Selecting the parts for your product is without doubt one of the most difficult processes you’ll undergo. It is critical to the success of your project, and will likely define your vision as a business for the short-term. You’ve got a raft of things to consider: power, complexity, availability, market life, obsolesce, future upgrades, vendor location, customs and import/export taxes, and of course, the base functionality of your entire supply chain (the bit where you knit it all together).
It should go without saying, choose good parts. Pay attention to what a manufacturer is saying. Can they appropriately scale their production should your own product take off? Or can they outsource to another factory producing to the exact same standard? How about curating a list of alternate vendors should their operation be disrupted, be that finance, mechanical, or natural causes?
You can build a successful supply chain, but can you hedge against manufacturing uncertainty?
Now, you’re going to need certification to actually sell your product. Certification can vary between countries, but means the same thing everywhere. Your product needs verification to ensure it meets specifications dictated by the market you’re attempting to sell within. For instance, in the US, you’d need FCC certification, or in the EU, you’d likely need Conformité Européenne (CE) approval. Electrical products usually need multiple certifications.
Your product will need to be tested according to the standards set by the certification. It will be reviewed, and then hopefully, approved. Some products also need periodic recertification to assure certifiers standards are being maintained, and to check if any changes in standards are being adhered to.
There is an obvious temptation here to ship your manufacturing requirements abroad. The incentives of exceedingly cheap labour found throughout many countries can be alluring, but don’t be blind to the long-term potential of working with local/national manufacturers. If there is a manufacturer who can assist you, perhaps it is in your best interest to enter a mutual partnership, growing your businesses alongside one another.
Another thing to consider is quality assurance of your manufacturing process. If it is abroad, you’ll be heading there to ensure your product is completed to specification – this could be a costly process. Localised facilities have the immediate benefit of direct communications, centralised control over the manufacturing processes, and it will be much easier to monitor the quality of the production at each stage.
The Final Stages
The end of the line. You’re almost over the hill. There are still a succession of tasks you might need to consider. Does your product need specialised software or firmware? How will you deliver updates to the device? Will your manufacturer be able to assist with your development or testing of the software/firmware?
You should also consider packaging, and where the product will be shipped from. Equally, and something that can be overlooked, what about reverse logistics? How will your packaging work when a consumer must return your product (hopefully they never need to!), or if there is a malfunction only your factory can rectify? Consider how real-world stress testing differs from lab-testing. You may think you have pushed the product to limit, but consumers can often find exciting and mildly irritating methods for destroying things – things you’d never even considered!
Now you're good
Now, you’re good to go. Of course, you don’t have to stick to our guide, and likely, you’ll forge ahead and build later. A good friend of mine often refers to her startup as “jumping out of a plane and learning how to construct a parachute on the way down.” While this is likely a common feeling, you don’t have to tread water out of your depth. Good luck!
Want to discuss your project further with us?
Call us now on 01209 216 878!
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / freedigitalphotos.net.