The resurgence of manufacturing in America definitely has both US based companies, as well as International based companies, establishing criteria to locate a premier manufacturing partner in America. Numerous factors are driving companies towards new and / or strengthened relationships with a US based vertically integrated manufacturer for their product requirements including prototypes, first articles and scalable production volumes. Their US based manufacturing requirements may be for US consumption but are now also for International markets as the US landscape becomes more competitive relative to foreign markets. You may now here the term “On-shoring”, which for US manufacturers is a welcome change from the historical trend to “Off-shoring”.
These factors include:
- A strengthening US economy relative to world markets.
- US productivity gains relative to equipment automation and labor efficiencies through embracing cellular and lean manufacturing techniques.
- A new focus on understanding the full costs that impact a “Landed cost equivalent” comparison to Made in America that include transit, international management and quality costs.
- The reality that many challenges that have existed in America for years are now landing in Asian manufacturing markets such as labor inflation, union presence and cost of quality barriers.
What criteria should world class companies utilize when searching for the optimal US based manufacturing partner? The following factors are instrumental in the evaluation process:
- Case Study References: Can your potential partner demonstrate recent or existing successful relationships as a manufacturing partner on a project with similar product requirements? Ask for examples, references and production capacity results. Was the product for US consumption only or did the partner handle international logistics as well? Was it a new venture or was the product previously manufactured overseas and relocated or “On-shored” to this potential partner. There are numerous factors that can be reviewed with a potential manufacturing partner to ensure they have previously successfully handled a project that is similar in scope to your requirements.
- Breadth of Experience: Management experience is critical. It is important that the manufacturing partner has the facility, equipment and processes in place but it is even more important that there is experience and depth on the management team. Does the team have the technical and product experience to be successful with your product? Do they have experience in international procurement and the management of a deep, complex BOM if this is required? Do they understand the management of work instructions, cost management and visible shop floor quality metrics? Are long term supply chain relationships in place? What about logistics and service relationships? Evaluating the capability of the management team is critical and should involve a shop tour to visibly confirm a strong management presence.
- Design & Manufacturing Engineering Capabilities: In order to be successful as a manufacturing partner for turnkey products, there must be an in-house design and engineering capability. If the product is new, having an internal expert that is familiar with the manufacturing capabilities of the facility can be critical in the upfront management of “Manufacturability for cost and efficiency” factors. This can have a huge impact on product cost and time to market issues if it is addressed up -front. If the product exists and is being relocated to a new partner there are numerous transition steps that must be addressed. Are the designs, drawings and assembly instructions clearly documented and are they consistent with the potential partner’s capabilities? Is there an engineering point person that will lead the technical relationship for a successful transition?
- Integrated In-House manufacturing & assembly capabilities: The optimal US based manufacturing partner can offer a Total Solution to a customer’s product demands. This includes complete diversified in-house manufacturing capabilities so that the customer is engaging a “One Stop” partner solution. In addition to an experienced management team, the right partner must have in place excellent proven management procedures that track the product seamlessly throughout the manufacturing process. Dedicated program management should be available where required. Automated material loading equipment as well as robotic equipment ensures that management has invested in their facility capabilities to compete on the world stage. Lean manufacturing principles and cellular manufacturing techniques should be evident on your plant tour. Designated cells should offer efficient electro-mechanical assembly capabilities for both sub-assemblies and total turn-key final assembly and test.
- ISO 9001 Approved Quality Management System: The international standard for approved quality management systems is governed by the ISO standards. Your manufacturing partner should have an ISO 9001:2008 approved quality management system. This ensures that an independent auditor has reviewed the company’s processes, standards, organization and quality assurance methods. It covers numerous activities including the handling of part rejections (both internal and external), on –time delivery statistics, customer feedback surveys and strategic initiatives to continuously improve the organization. The auditors are on site annually to ensure that compliance is a continuous process. Another factor to ask is whether the facility has been approved by one of the product safely agencies such as UL, EL or CSA to manufacture products for companies that require these safety ratings. This is additional evidence that your partner has a focused quality management system in place.
- In-House Processing Capabilities: Many products require powder coating, silk screening or graphics applied for branding purposes. Does the manufacturing partner control these processes in-house? This is the most efficient way to provide a total turn-key service solution to the customer. It provides a process for improved quality control as well as a shorter lead time service.
- Warehousing and International Logistics: Delivery schedules are usually critical to maintain but can sometimes be subject to revisions with little or no lead time. Does the partner have in-house capability to manage fluctuations with buffer stock or a warehousing option? Is there a logistics department that can manage and track world-wide delivery services for the customer?
- Customer and Technical Services: Another critical service that your manufacturing partner should excel at is both customer and technical services. This should be in place from the sales and order entry process right through to the field installation and technical service function. During the manufacturing process, dedicated program management and a full management ERP system should be in place to provide program status updates when required. Product serial number tracking is often required for product warranty purposes and the management system should ensure that this feature is available.
Fabrication Concepts Corporation (Fabcon) is a leading US based contract manufacturing company located in Orange County, near Los Angeles, California. We are a state-of-the-art precision sheet metal fabricator and turnkey contract manufacturer that is an integral partner to a diverse list of customers including numerous Fortune 500 companies. The company is a “One Stop” resource with complete vertically integrated manufacturing and program management resources. Fabcon is housed in an ISO 9001:2008 approved, 125,000 square foot state of the art facility.
Fabcon services a wide range of Industries and Markets and provides an extensive array of Products and Services. For over 35 years, Fabcon has served both domestic and international markets with a stellar reputation for adhering to stringent tolerances and cosmetic standards. The company has proudly transitioned several products from international supply chains to “Made in America” at our Fabcon California facility.
We manufacture products to your exact OEM specifications and requirements. Our team of Manufacturing Experts will work with you and show you how we can help your team design for manufacturability to give you a competitive advantage in your industry. In addition to quick turn prototyping, our resources provide plenty of scalability for large scale production run manufacturing.
Our commitment to Lean Manufacturing and continuous improvement ensures that we are never satisfied. In conjunction with our ISO 9001-2008 certified quality system, you can rest assured that we are providing the highest quality products with the shortest lead times… all at competitive prices supported by the highest standards in Customer Service.
Let the Fabcon team provide you with the solution to your manufacturing challenges. We will demonstrate our extensive Capabilities, our passion for excellence and exceed your expectations.