I’ve compiled what I consider to be the 10 essential questions to help entrepreneurs understand what they’re really trying to accomplish so they can figure out their manufacturing approach early. These questions can be applied to any product in development:
1. Do you have the right resources for manufacturing? This is an especially relevant question if you plan to produce off-shore.
2. How important is initial tooling cost versus part cost? This will often influence what processes you end up using, though there are many other factors that come into play.
3. How much labor is involved in product assembly?
Can you make your product easier to make, or is the labor impossible to avoid?
4. How long will you need to make those parts? Do you want to make 20,000 and be done with it, or do you want to still be making parts fifteen years from now?
5. What are your minimum order quantities? The total dollar volumes at stake have a lot of influence over a manufacturer’s interest. Starting production on a product or part requires a hefty time investment from your partner, so it needs to be worth it from their point-of-view.
6. How do you want to pace production? Do you want a few big batches, or lots of small batches? Have you set aside time for pilot production?
7. How critical are the materials used during production? Understanding what is going into your parts and product sometimes requires a lot of oversight and external testing.
8. How important is intellectual property protection? You may decide that you can’t show others certain steps in production or that you need to spread out production among multiple partners in order to protect your ideas.
9. Does off-shore makes sense? Can you wait six weeks for a boat, or do you need to airship it?
10. Who do you click with? In almost every situation, manufacturing requires a massive amount of back and forth and good communication. Making sure you and your partner are aligned on expectations is the most important criteria I have found for success.
Director of Engineering, Bresslergroup