08/10/16 6:45 am

All contract manufacturers are not created equal. When it’s time to choose one for your electro-mechanical assembly and PCB manufacturing, it’s helpful to ask a few key questions:

  • Do they offer design and engineering services?
  • Are they ISO certified?
  • Do they have the capacity to handle both small and large jobs?
  • Will they monitor and control inventories and cost?

In this article, we’d like to discuss some of the things to consider when choosing a CM. But first, we’ll look at some things not to consider. Here are a few common misconceptions about the process, courtesy of the manufacturing publication Industry Week.

“Once we pick the right CM, our work is done.”

The companies that get the best results and end up the happiest with their CMs are ones who take an active role in the relationship. They’ve set up their organizations in such a way that they have their teams aligned and communicating.

“It will look better if we go with a ‘Tier 1” manufacturing firm.”

“The general convention of grouping CM’s into various tiers, generally from one to four, was developed by the financial markets in order to help explain differences in valuation multiples across the industry,” Industry Week writes.

For your purposes, remember bigger isn’t always better. Look for other factors beyond the size of the company, such as technology, business model, and management style.

“This firm gave the best presentation, making them the best choice.”

Don’t confuse the work done by a CM’s marketing team for their ability to produce. Check out their references, research their background and talk to their operations team as well as their sales staff.

Now that we’ve covered some of these misconceptions, let’s look at four basic questions to ask when finding a CM.

1. Are They Good Communicators?

A good CM is a good communicator. Your project is in their hands, so you should choose someone who will keep you informed through each step of the process, explain their quality control procedures, and show that they have the proper certifications for your product.  They should utilize interactive project management and cloud-based document systems to share files and documents.

2. Do You Get Along With Them?

This might sound like a silly question, but it’s important. Finding a CM with whom you click can lead to a relationship that lasts for many years. Find out who the point person will be when dealing with the CM. Make sure it’s someone you and your team enjoy working with.

3. Do They Fit Your Budget?

As with most decisions you make, cost is a factor in choosing a CM. You need to find one who fits your budget, but if you get a quote that seems too low, you should ask for more details about the pricing.

4. What’s Their Capacity?

Does your CM have the room to accommodate your project? If they’re operating at full capacity, your project could get held up. Find out if the contract manufacturer you’re considering has room for growth.

At Mars International, our customers can expect close collaboration as we work to provide the best-in-class- solutions that exceed their requirements in terms of quality, budget and time-to-market. Contact us today to learn how we can meet your contract manufacturing needs.

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