We literally met one of our fastest growing customers walking down the hallway of their office after a meeting with the engineering and purchasing teams when the Global Sourcing Manager stuck his head out of his office and quipped, “Hey, can you guys make this?” Turns out the answer was, “Yes!”
While timing, karma, good fortune, or just plain luck is lovely, it should never be on the Marketing Plan to you submit to your CMO under “Strategic Growth!" I can see imagine his face when you have X% of your yearly growth tied to, Providential Relationships!
So how do engineers find the right contract manufacturer?
I’m a big fan of keeping the simple stuff simple. Engineers are no different. The first best way to find the right contact manufacturer to assist with your project is to ask your network. They might be college friends, people you worked with in the past or even other engineers from your current company. Don’t underestimate the depth and breadth of your circle. You will be amazed at who you know - knows who you need to know.
I see you shaking your head and saying, “Duh.” Most engineers are process driven. At work and with manufacturing capabilities. If you search “Contract Manufacturer” you’ll get more results than are helpful. If your project requires components or sub-assemblies to be aluminum die-cast the results may actually help you. Try this instead: “High-Pressure Die-Cast Contract Manufacturers.”
Once you leverage the magic of Google Algorithms you quickly have a short, focused list of potential manufacturing partners.
As you search this list look for relevant capability experience and as much value-add as possible. Will your new partner just make your one component? Will they offer Design or ODM services, DFM review, and supply chain logistics or warehousing options?
Determine what is most important, what can you live with and what can you live without. You’ve read somewhere before, I’m sure, that the pain of poor quality lives long after the pleasure of a cheap price. If your components, sub-assemblies, or finished product is mission critical then be leery of the outlier who quotes a price too good to be true!