From the Desk of the CEO: Why Taking a Break from Work is So Important

Last year I took a ten-day vacation and enjoyed sunshine, beaches, books and drinks that came with umbrellas. It had been almost 2 years since my husband and I were able to walk away from our careers, dogs, and the normal day-to-day to relax. Several people questioned the wisdom of a 10-day vacation. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago and I would have questioned it.

Most of my career and life has been sans vacations, or at the most, limited vacations. I was raised with a very strong work ethic and there was always work to be done. I believed that I owed it to myself and my employer to be dedicated to the work. I only took rare vacations for very special occasions or to go and visit loved ones. This work style also meant that I often skipped lunch or ate at my desk while working. I was driven to have increasing levels of productivity and since we all have 24 hours in the day; I had to optimize every single one.

This mindset has been part of many company cultures and individual work ethics for several years. Promotions and career advancement often followed those who demonstrated dedication by working long hours. In some cultures, the focus was on the effort more than the results. Research now shows that this behavior rarely led to better results and increased productivity.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a book, Peak Performance, which explored and explained why my method of work was a less than an optimal process. Disappointing for someone who took pride in her effectiveness and productivity. This book’s research and insights were completely opposite and counterintuitive to what had been my standard of productivity. Turns out I was missing a key element to the formula for ultimate results. Working hard was only a portion of what was required. Research revealed that all the top producers in their field take breaks frequently. While they work hard, they also rest hard.

I really do want to make my hours in each day count for what is important. I truly love being productive. So as I read the research, I realized that I need to change my day-to-day if I really wanted to sustain a lifetime of productivity in whatever I was doing. I also realized that as a leader, I’m modeling for my team how to be most productive. This has become especially important as the impacts of stress on our employees continues to rise.  Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report, 57% of all groups surveyed were experiencing stress on a daily basis, which is up from the prior year. Not unusual considering that we have been living through a global pandemic.

Peak Performance made me realize why breaks and vacations were actually going to increase my productivity. The research they provided, as well as other readings I did, crystallized for me that the work hard and never rest mentality was actually harming my growth and productivity. The authors, Brad Stulberg & Steve Magness share a formula that sums up the research: stress + rest = growth. Just to be clear, they were not referring to being stressed out, but the stress like making a muscle stronger.

I began to realize that as I took even short breaks and set better boundaries about when I would work and when I would not, I had breakthroughs in my thinking. Those “aha” moments don’t break through constant activity. Only in combination of work and rest can true breakthrough happen resulting in growth and increasing innovation and creativity.

So, my 10 days of rest was required to reset after an intense 2020 and with the supply chain challenges that began and are still continuing , it was important that I had time to reset, so that I could bring my best ideas and self to the table at E4D Technologies. I learned an important lesson in my time off, giving yourself a break is just as important as keeping up your work ethic. Be sure to explore the rest of our blog page to find more information on what goes on behind the scenes at E4D Technologies!

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

From the Desk of the CEO: Women in the Workplace

Last month, it was International Women’s Day. I’ve been processing my reaction to this day, and I’ve found myself feeling both hope and discouragement. On one hand, I love seeing that the great women in my life, at E4D and around the world, being honored. On the other hand, I am disappointed that we still need a day to try and balance the gender disparity.

This day celebrating women goes back to 1909 in the US and, more than 100 years later, studies show that we still have:

  • 47% of women in entry-level jobs, which reduced to only 21% at C-Suite
    • Women of color are still vastly underrepresented, with only 3% of C-suite jobs (1)
  • COVID-19 challenges (childcare, work from home, etc.) are impacting women in the workplace more significantly than men
    • 76% of women vs. 54% of men (1)
    • Moms of young children lost jobs at 3x the rate of fathers (2)
  • US Census Bureau shows that little was done to bridge the gender wage gap between 2018 and 2019, with women earning $0.82 for every dollar earned by men
    • If you add controls for skills, education, occupation, age, etc., it’s still only $0.88 on the dollar per Pew Research

Just to be clear – I’m a strong advocate for men in their career, as fathers and contributors to the greater society. Regretfully, I’ve also seen men face discrimination because they were involved parents, co-sharing parenting responsibilities with their partners.

For all the conversations and even laws that have been passed, the scales are still not balanced between men and women in the workplace. Research has shown that one of the primary causes for the ongoing gaps is that more women than men miss the first rung of the ladder. There are several reasons for this, and you can read more of the details in the study.

In my experience, one of the biggest challenges is that women in the workplace aren’t included in the day-to-day natural interactions that occur between men. The men gather together grabbing lunch or beers after work.  They plan golf events and just simply gather around the “water cooler” and talk. Naturally, both personal topics and work topics get discussed. Relationships and networks get built, and some degree of informal mentoring takes place.

When it’s time for that first level of promotion, it’s natural for recommendations to be made for the men who have been building this network. They just don’t know the women candidates as well. Unfortunately for women, once you miss the first rung, each rung gets harder and harder for many of the same reasons.

There are several other reasons, often related to unconscious biases. While there are many different ways we can be biased, one simple expression I’ve noticed more as I’ve worked in the south is the way men often refer to the women on their team as “girls” or “ladies”.  While many do not initially intend to create a bias, the message is that one is less mature or experienced, maybe even dependent on the men. For many, it’s an inadvertent behavior; they might even think they are being polite. But it sets the tone for others to power up over those same women, that their value is not equivalent to the men.

When I informally poll my women and men friends who are in leadership, almost universally, the women have had an experience of being accused of sexual favors in response to a promotion, none of the men have. This has been my own experience.

So, all of us, myself included, need to continue to check our behaviors and bias to ensure that the world we leave our daughters, nieces and sisters, as well as our sons, nephews and brothers, is finally balanced for all genders. There is great information available to give specifics, and I encourage us all to continue making this a critical part of our leadership. We have the power to make this right.

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

Here’s How We Do It: Gage R&R Manufacturing to Validate Testing and Continuously Improve

At E4D Technologies, we have a wide variety of tools, systems and processes that help us ensure we are doing everything as efficiently and accurately as possible. Gage R&R is one of the tools we use to validate the accuracy of our measurements. We believe that by creating reliable products, we can create safer medical devices for consumers and doctors alike. Here’s everything you need to know about gage R&R manufacturing with E4D Technologies:


What is Gage R&R Manufacturing?

Gage repeatability and reproducibility (gage R&R) is the process of finding the variation in the measurement data gathered from gauging equipment to determine its accuracy. Essentially, this is a process used to determine the accuracy of a measuring system. By gauging the quality of your measurement system, you are able to determine if there is variation in the manufacturing process. Our goal is to limit the amount of variation in the process to provide accurate products.


What’s the Process of Gage R&R?

First, you must determine if your product will require gage R&R. We do this by examining the risks involved with creating products that don’t require a high level of accuracy. Some products, such as plastic forks, may not require gage R&R due to the low risk associated with inaccuracy. Other products, however, such as pacemakers, quite literally create life and death situations if the product isn’t as accurately manufactured. Due to the resource required to perform a gage R&R, we only perform these tests based on the risk assessment and customer requirements.

Our goal with gage R&R is determining if our manufacturing process is repeatable and reliable. In a typical gage R&R process, appraisers start by taking measurements of samples from different trials and collecting the data. Different appraisers collect data from samples using the specified measuring equipment and compile the data. The compiled data would then be calculated to determine the variation amongst the different samples for an accurate gage R&R.


What Factors Determine if the Variation is Acceptable?

We determine if the gage R&R collection data is acceptable compared to the industry standard of acceptable variation. We determine three different factors, each with its own set of industry standards. The three factors to determine in a gage R&R study are the percentage contribution, total gage R&R and the number of distinct categories. The acceptable results are as followed:


Percentage Contribution:

1% or less – Acceptable

Between 1% and 9% – Conditionally Acceptable

More than 9% – Not Acceptable

Total Gage R&R:

10% or less – Acceptable

Between 10% and 30% – Conditionally Acceptable

More than 30% – Not Acceptable

The Number of Distinct Categories:

5 or more distinct categories – Acceptable

3-4 distinct categories – Conditionally Acceptable

2 or less distinct categories – Not Acceptable


What is the Importance of Gage R&R to E4D?

There are risks involved with not understanding the measurement system you are using to create a product. Let’s use a tire for example: if you need to refill your tires with air and the measuring system is faulty, you could overfill your tires and it could explode. Measurement is an integral part of any manufacturing process. That’s how we determine if the product is good or bad before we ship it out. It’s basically predicting the quality of our manufacturing process.

The value of working with a technology manufacturer and designer like E4D is that we are able to coach you on what manufacturing your product will require. We are here to help you save time and money by only using tools that are necessary for your product. To us, it’s all about risk management, safety and efficiency. Want to learn more about our processes? Check out our blog today!

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

Prototyping the Perfect Product with Subtractive and Additive Manufacturing

Bringing a product to market is a massive undertaking. There’s a lot to consider from defining the initial product concepts to shipping the final product to the customer. At E4D Technologies, we know what it takes to bring the product you’ve imagined to life. As a contract manufacturing partner, we can offer expertise every step of the way. In the beginning stages of product development, the focus is always on prototyping and testing. There are many different rapid prototyping technologies, and the best choice depends on your product and your needs:


What Is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is the quick production of a physical part using 3D computer-aided design (CAD) coupled with manufacturing technologies that don’t have the delays of custom tooling or the limitations of machining. Whether you’re thinking of a product’s enclosure or an internal part, when the finished prototype closely matches the proposed design of the part for the product, it’s said to be a quick or rapid prototype instead of a tooled or machined.


Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing isn’t the only way to prototype a part for a product but can be the least expensive and quickest. Other processes include subtractive manufacturing, injection molding, and compression molding. Subtractive manufacturing is when blocks of materials are milled or carved to remove the excess and produce the desired shape. In contrast,  injection molding and compression molding are processes where a liquid or semi-solid material is forced into a shape before going through a solidifying process. These processes are typically more costly and take additional time to get the initial parts which makes them not as desirable for rapid prototyping.


How 3D Printing Can Be Used for Prototyping

People have become obsessed with 3D printing because of how quickly it can produce prototypes as well as manufacturing assembly fixtures. It is a more cost-effective solution for fixtures or prototyping in a low volume than some of the alternatives like injection molding, compression molding or subtractive manufacturing. One advantage of 3D printing is that you don’t need to buy an expensive mold or compromise the design so that it can be milled to make the prototype, allowing you to create things that are difficult to produce based on cost and capability factors. But the most significant advantage is how quickly 3D printing can produce a new iteration of a concept or an idea. It may take 2-3 weeks to make a machined or molded prototype, but with 3D printing, new adjustments can be produced within a day or two (depending on the complexity of the prototype).


When it comes to prototyping a product, 3D printing allows you to quickly create intricate designs for a relatively cost-effective price. How cost-effective it is to prototype with 3D printing depends on the complexity of the product. At E4D Technologies, we use our engineering and 3D printing capabilities in house to iterate product improvements. Our engineering and design teams can iterate through the design possibilities and work through the solutions physically with these prototypes in days when machining or casting the same pieces might have taken weeks.  


Rapid Prototyping from a Manufacturing Perspective

Our team is certified in lean manufacturing principles, which focus on eliminating waste while maximizing production speed and quality. With this in mind, our design and engineering teams are constantly questioning what tool or fixture might make the assembly process faster, more efficient and more easily repeatable. We utilize 3D printing internally to create new tooling fixtures to use in our manufacturing processes. For example, this is a solution for creating something unique that is perfectly designed to hold a piece in place while you work on assembly. We find this incredibly useful when it comes to optimizing a manufacturing process over time.


Check out our video below to see research and design in action:


What Is the Solution for Prototyping the Perfect Product?

The short answer is that there is no single solution for prototyping every type of product. Many factors go into prototyping, such as cost, complexity and turnaround time. When you’re looking for the ideal contract manufacturing partner, you need to consider if your needs match their capabilities. Subtractive manufacturing and additive manufacturing both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right contract manufacturer should be able to determine which method you need to produce your perfect prototype. 


Whether you’re looking for a new design partner or you aren’t sure where to start, E4D Technologies is here to help. Our team works together, under one roof, with unique specialties that cover all major technological disciplines. We have the experience you need to design, develop and manufacture your perfect product to bring to markets worldwide. 


Contact us today to learn more about what E4D Technologies can do for your business. 


Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

Here’s How We Do It: How We Use the Lean Manufacturing Pull System

At E4D Technologies, we have a long list of tools and systems that we use to maximize the efficiency and productivity of our manufacturing process. One of the tools that we use to reduce waste and increase efficiency is the lean manufacturing pull system. While this is a common practice in manufacturing, it has proven to be valuable at E4D Technologies by ensuring that we only produce enough products to meet demand. Here is everything you need to know about lean manufacturing pull systems from E4D Technologies:


What is a Pull System in Lean Manufacturing?

Pull systems are a lean manufacturing strategy with the overall goal of reducing waste in the production process. Generally speaking, manufacturing companies that use the lean manufacturing pull system will only replace components used in the manufacturing process once they have been consumed, so they are only making enough products to meet customer demand. By using this system, all of the company’s resources are able to immediately be sold, optimizing inventory turns and cash flow.


Lean Manufacturing Pull System Vs. Push System

The pull system and the push system are two forms of manufacturing products, but the two sharply contrast each other. They are essentially opposite forms of deciding the quantity of products or components you will produce in a certain period of time. While the pull system only manufactures components as they have demand, the push system manufactures products to meet a demand plan. Essentially, the pull system can be described as “just in time” while the push system is “just in case.”


The Benefits of Using a Pull System

Since E4D Technologies follows the guidelines set in place by lean manufacturing, we are able to greatly benefit from the advantages of using a pull system. We are able to reduce waste throughout the process since no overproduction occurs, as well as reduce the cost of storing excess inventory. There are times, though, when a hybrid approach is required.

Whether you decide to use a pull system or a push system in manufacturing will depend on the demand of your product and how quickly you can manufacture your product. If one component of your process has a much longer lead-time or process time, you may need to push that component or process while pulling the balance of the components and products. The goals are to always consider what can bring the most value to the customer, while also eliminating the most waste. Want to learn more about our manufacturing process? Check out our blog today!

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

Here’s How We Do It: How We Use the SMED System Lean to Change Over Quickly      

At E4D Technologies, we work hard to simplify our manufacturing process as much as possible to reduce waste and maximize efficiency. One of the tools that we to accomplish this goal is the SMED system, or single minute exchange of dies. Here is everything you need to know about how E4D uses the SMED system to maximize efficiency in production:


What is SMED in Lean Manufacturing?

SMED stands for single minute exchange of dies, which is a system to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to perform equipment or process changeovers. While originally, SMED was for changing over machinery, the principle is relevant to any change over in your production process. Changeovers of any kind can take hours away from production time if companies aren’t constantly working towards making them as simple as possible. The overall goal of SMED is to reduce changeover time to single-digits, working to complete each changeover in minutes.


Internal Vs. External Components of SMED

The main components of the SMED system are internal and external elements of changeover. Internal elements must be completed while the equipment or production line is stopped, while external elements can be completed while the equipment or production line is running. The goal of SMED is to reduce the number of internal elements via streamlining, removing or converting to external elements in your changeover process. Using external components will allow you to work on changeover while the production line is still moving.


The Benefits of Using a SMED System

Utilizing the SMED system can dramatically reduce changeover time for manufacturing companies of all sizes. No matter the type of machinery or production line, there is a simplified process for completing most of the changeover steps externally. Companies that use this system are able to lower manufacturing costs by reducing equipment downtime, while also producing smaller lot sizes and increasing their responsiveness to consumer demand.

Since we follow the guidelines set in place by lean manufacturing at E4D Technologies, we utilize the SMED to increase our productivity, while also standardizing our changeover process to improve consistency and quality. Want to learn more about the manufacturing process at E4D Technologies? Check out our blog today!

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

Is Outsourcing Manufacturing Right for You?

The core reason to consider outsourcing manufacturing for any company is to gain a competitive advantage in the market place. There are numerous reasons for partnering with a manufacturer and many reasons to choose one over the other. The team at E4D Technologies is here to help walk you through the reasons why contract manufacturing could be a good decision for your business. Here are a few things to consider before you sign a contract:

The Financial Benefits of Outsourcing Manufacturing 

First and foremost, outsourcing isn’t the ultimate solution to saving money. Sometimes, it doesn’t make fiscal sense to outsource at all. In other situations, outsourcing might be the best decision. One strong reason to consider outsourcing is to address gaps in your business’ capabilities. Finding the right contract manufacturer can create a hybrid approach where each organization plays to its strengths and helps save the expenses from duplicating those resources in-house that may not be needed long term. Often the ROI doesn’t make sense when the skills and resources exist with the outsourcing partner. If you have available capacities in both facilities and people, outsourcing may not be right for you at this time.

The Case for Resources or Skill Gaps 

One common gap that can be solved through outsourcing is related to capacity. You may not have any manufacturing facilities, and the costs to build and fit-out space is not a good ROI. You might not have enough space or capacity, and so instead of using capital to increase the manufacturing space, you can partner with an existing factory at an outsourcing company. 

You might also have a gap with specific skills. Perhaps you need support with a design project and your core design team is overbooked, or there is a unique technical skill required for the project that is not part of your core team. Finding a full-service contract manufacturer like E4D Technologies can help your company solve those problems. A full-service manufacturing team consists of individuals who have all the disciplines needed for global supply chain manufacturing and management. If you’re looking for a partner who will help you every step of the way, our team is here to help you with all of your manufacturing needs. 

What Is the Outsourcing Partner Security and Confidentiality around Your Products and Intellectual Property?

Protecting your Intellectual Property (IP) is important, and having trust in your manufacturing partner is critical. As you consider who should be your outsourcing partner, you need to understand how they manage and protect customer propriety and confidential information (including your IP). You should also expect to clearly see defined responsibilities and ownerships of intellectual property (IP) in your contract. Typically, the manufacturer will own their methodologies and processes around the manufacturing system, and the customer will own the product’s IP. 

Reputation, experience, and capabilities are some of the major factors you have to consider when choosing a partner. Some of the questions you should ask yourself and your team when deciding on contract manufacturing companies are:

  • What do other people say about the manufacturer? 
  • Do they have the reputation of protecting their customer’s data?
  • How long has the company been manufacturing products? 
  • Does the manufacturer have controls in place that keep the customer and the IP safe? 
  • Is their factory open for you to visit? 
  • While touring the factory, how do you feel about the protection of other client products by the manufacturer?

As an outsourcing partner who has both their own IP and has managed and protected our customer’s IP, we know that IP protection is essential for any partnership. That’s why the team at E4D Technologies has specific protocols and safety guards to make sure our client’s IP is safe 24/7. Our team consists of highly-skilled and talented manufacturers who give our company the feel of a large manufacturer but gives our clients the customer care of a small contract manufacturer. 

How Aligned Is the Contract Manufacturer with your Products, Requirements and Size?

Another factor to consider when thinking about outsourcing manufacturing is who will be the best fit for your needs. When deciding which contract manufacturer to partner with, you might want to review the median size of companies that they work with, the types of products they currently support and any regulatory experience they have that could align with your product needs. 

Since many manufacturers work within a specific industry, a lot of their capabilities and processes might be similar to the way your competitors build their products. Working with the same manufacturer that your competitors work with might give you an advantage or allow you to operate on the same playing field. The manufacturer will know how to produce your product giving you the high-quality advice you need while supplementing the experience you lack. If you do not want your outsourcing partner to manufacture in the same space as your competitor, you might be able to negotiate that in your contract. However, most contract manufactures gain their leverage by working on several similar or competing products. The crucial factor is if they protect all of their customer’s information and IP. If so, it should not be a concern if they have competitive products. Alternatively, you might be able to request that the same teams of engineers don’t work on the competitor products even if they are built in the same factory.

Lastly, the benefit has to outweigh the cost. As stated before, the price increases with the more exclusivity you want with a manufacturer. Yes, outsourcing can help with labor costs, expertise gaps, and factory space, but will it make fiscal sense for your company? In some cases, it might make sense to build specific parts of your product on your own while outsourcing other components. When it comes to our team, we have ample experience working with highly-complex products from anywhere from medical device manufacturing to product design. Our team is here to help walk you through everything you should consider while choosing a contract manufacturer, and we’re willing to help you determine the best ROI for your product. 

As a full-service contract manufacturer, we’re capable of handling the outsourcing manufacturing needs of many businesses. Our team is here to help you whether you need someone to reverse engineer, help you with your sketch to scale or manage your product life cycle. We can help companies in many industries, including optical, industrial, mechanical, medical, and software. For more information about our company, and to see if we’re the right fit for you, contact our team today.

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

How E4D’s Company Culture Contributes to Our Success in Design and Product Manufacturing

At E4D Technologies, we know that a company with a healthy organizational culture will outperform a company with an unhealthy culture. Many companies are smart, but many struggle with delivering timely results with minimal interpersonal drama and disorganization. Patrick Lencioni defines a healthy organization as one that “has minimal politics and confusion, a high degree of morale and productivity and a very low turnover among good employees” (The Advantage, Pg 5). Our smart and healthy organization has successfully competed with much larger organizations and withstood the test. While many of those larger organizations have a brilliant and skilled workforce, we have the advantage of having the strength of a healthy organization to complement our smaller but equally skilled team. As a company that has focused on organizational health and creating a culture where people want to come and work, more than two-thirds of our team has been with us for more than five years; and half of that has been around for more than ten years.

Our culture enables us to innovate technology every day while genuinely enjoying the work that we do and the people who work with us. It helps us succeed in creative development, problem-solving and a variety of essential components of our business. We know every company has a culture, but not all companies intentionally develop a culture that promotes their purpose and values while looking to bring their customers the best value.

Here’s how our company culture contributes to our success in contract design and product manufacturing:

We Like to Say E4D Means Employees 4 a Difference

We understand that progress in the technology industry encompasses more than producing a great product. Not only does E4D make a difference for our customers around the globe with innovative products, but we also bring value to our local communities. We want our company values and ideas to go beyond the walls at E4D Technologies and positively affect people outside of our organization. For example, we make a difference in our community of Richardson, Texas, by uniting our employees in our company-wide volunteer program. We are blessed to be part of a great community that is a vital part of our employees’ lives.

We exist to enable individuals, teams, and companies to have the freedom to move forward. Our team places a heavy emphasis on creating opportunities for our employees to help our neighbors achieve their freedom to move forward. Serving our communities also has the added benefit of building stronger, long-lasting relationships with our employees, which are strengthened as we work to serve the community together.

Leaving Our Egos at the Door

As the cliche goes, “cash is king.” But the reason to be in business is to use that cash to create value. Our team strives to create an environment for the benefit of our customers, employees, end-users, investors, and communities based on mutual improvement, growth, and overall service. Contrary to most beliefs about business, profit is not our only purpose but a direct result of our aim.

One of our core values is that we “leave our egos at the door.” This means that we acknowledge that it takes the whole team, regardless of title or role, to bring the best value to our customers and our employees. We value the diversity of experience, education and culture of our team. We recognize that we all have something important to contribute to each other, to our customers and to our community. Together, our team of experts has nearly 600 years of combined experience in all major engineering disciplines, and our team represents more than ten different countries. Under one roof, we work together to make complex technologies simple and bring our customers’ products to life. Through leveraging our diverse skills, cultures and experience, we provide everyone with the freedom to move forward.

This mindset and value breaks down silos and politics that can impact an organization’s health and deter the company from moving efficiently and effectively to what brings the most value. Our company culture brings our entire staff together with one motivating goal of moving forward. We want to make a difference in the future of design and manufacturing, and we’re working towards this goal every day.

Aversion to the Status Quo

We know that when you don’t innovate, you die. Sometimes it happens quickly, but often it happens slowly. We are motived to have an on-going, vibrant company and believe strongly in continuous improvement. Another of our core values says that we are “averse to the status quo.” Every day we look to improve our products and processes while helping our customers do the same. Throughout our 17 years as a company, we have refused to back down from the variety of challenges that have been presented. We have competed with industry giants, but with tenacious, creative, and innovative employees, we continue to transform every aspect of our organization.

No matter what you’re looking for out of a design or manufacturing partner, E4D Technologies is here to help you move forward. Our innovative approach to medical device manufacturing and regulatory experience has allowed our technology to be sold globally. We would like to offer that same opportunity for your product. Want to learn more about all of the ways E4D can help your company thrive? Check out our offerings today!

And if you want to work at a company with an organizational culture that makes coming to work every day less of a chore and more of a motivating factor, reach out to us today to see what opportunities might be available.

Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies

What Do I Need to Know If I’m Looking for a Contract Manufacturing Partner?

Key Questions to Ask a Design and Contract Manufacturing Partner

It’s time to find a design or contract manufacturing partner. It might be the first time you’ve engaged a 3rd party contractor or you may have tried it once before and it didn’t go well. Many companies can find it challenging to understand what they need out of a design or manufacturing partnership. There are companies of all sizes and specialties, so how do you choose the right one for your needs? Here are some of the key questions to ask a potential partner from the experts at E4D Technologies:

Successful Partnerships Are Based on a Good Financial and Capacity Match

The first step to finding a contract manufacturing partner should always be finding one that aligns with your financial size and volume requirements. Many times we see companies that are early in the product life cycle with lower volumes and revenues trying to align with very large companies that excel at high volume and high revenue accounts without great success– especially in medical device manufacturing. Your company and your future partner are looking at cash management and both parties will benefit when expected revenues and volumes are more aligned.

When you are researching the right partner, ask your potential partner about their sweet spot for the size of a customer. They should provide you with a range that aligns with your anticipated needs. If they don’t have an answer or their answer is significantly different than your companies revenues and capacity needs; they may not be your best fit for a design or contract manufacturing partner.

Matching Capabilities is Key for Design and Manufacturing

A second key part of finding the perfect contract manufacturing or design partner is matching their capabilities to your production or design needs. Some high-level things to consider:

  • Do they have the required certifications you require?
  • Do they have experience in products similar to yours?
  • Do they have experience in global procurement?
  • Do they have the necessary quality systems in place?
  • Do you need support with Design? If so, they should have in-house engineering?
  • Where do they manufacture and does it align with your needs logistically?

For example, if you have a high regulatory product like a medical device, it is much easier and effective to partner with someone who has already built medical devices and understands the regulations in the various countries you want to sell your device.

If you need design support, what types of engineering skills do they have in-house? What will they have to outsource?

Just like most relationships, the more you have in common the easier the partnership will be over the long term. The goal in this step is to try and understand how your future partner best aligns with all the elements you require to help you bring your product to market, scale it, and improve it.

Assess if This Manufacturing Partnership Will Provide Value

The first two steps help you narrow down the list to those partners who can best support you and your product. While there are many different factors to consider when determining a manufacturing or design partner, finding the one who will provide the most value to your business is essential. The most crucial factor is that you need someone who is able to ask the right questions and give the right answers. You need someone with the experience to be your coach in the process. The partner will help you, based on their experience, on how to reduce costs, improve efficiencies, refine designs, determine the right logistics for your products and, most importantly, tell you upfront if they don’t have the capabilities to help you.

If you are looking to engage design service from this partner, they should bring value not only to the design but around the management of the Intellectual Property (IP). Conversations over intellectual property are made during the contract negotiations and it should be clear if they own the IP or if you own the IP when the design work is completed. They should also be able to demonstrate that they have a track record of protecting IP. At E4D Technologies, it is always our goal to let our partners own their IP. We work with our partners to make sure that they understand the controls and contract agreements that protect their intellectual property. Because at the end of the day, a healthy partnership is built on trust and transparency.

Lastly, consider proximity. Depending on your needs, it might be important to have a partner who is located within easy travel distance so that you can go and see the process and products. This can be important in the early days of a product or relationship. Perhaps proximity is more important when you consider logistics and your end market. Depending on the product size and weight, it might be more important to find a manufacturing partner that is in relatively close proximity to your end market to mitigate logistic costs. Your choice between two manufacturing partners might come down to their time zones and how important it is to you to communicate quickly with them during your working hours. These are all important considerations in determining the value of potential design and manufacturing companies.

Ask for a Tour of Their Manufacturing Facility if Possible

One of the key factors in choosing a manufacturing contract partner is transparency. You want a partner who will open the doors of their facility to you, so you can see for yourself the site, the processes, products, and the quality they have currently in place. Keep in mind that this will likely require you to sign a nondisclosure agreement for your protection and for their other customers.

If you’re in the market for a new manufacturing or design partner, E4D Technologies would love to see how we can help your business grow. Our team works together under one roof, each with a unique specialty covering all major technological disciplines. We have a deep understanding of what it takes for a powerful product introduction into markets across the entire globe, especially in highly regulated industries.

Want to learn more about what E4D Technologies has to offer your business? Contact us today!

The Significance of the Six Sigma Black Belt with E4D Technologies

At E4D Technologies, we work hard to deliver exceptional quality in everything we do.  One of our core values is that we are “Averse to the Status Quo”. This drives us on a continuous improvement journey throughout the whole organization. Two of the tools in our continuous improvement toolbox are:  Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing. Here are the reasons why Six Sigma and Lean manufacturing are so significant to our processes at E4D:

What Is a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification?  

The Six Sigma Black Belt Certification is one of the most comprehensive certifications in our industry. Any person who can rise to the challenge to complete this certification is certified in the Six Sigma philosophies and principles, and they’re a master of using the DMAIC process to reduce variability while leading and supporting the Six Sigma team. We have one Certified Black Belt on our team, but the principles of Six Sigma are taught to our entire engineering team. These principles keep us focused on continuously improving the reliability and quality of our products and processes.

What is the Significance of Lean Manufacturing?

Lean Manufacturing is similar to the principles of Six Sigma in some ways, but completely dissimilar in others. The concept of lean manufacturing is based on eliminating waste while maximizing customer value. In following the guidelines of Lean Manufacturing, we look at the 8 wastes and continually look for ways to add value and eliminate waste.

eight wastes manufacturing

dmaic manufacturing

The Differences Between Six Sigma and Lean Manufacturing

As a leader in advanced technology used for manufacturing, we believe that every great system serves an important role in the workplace. Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma may sound similar at first, but the differences are important to understand. Lean manufacturing is a process for reducing waste in the workplace, while Six Sigma works to reduce variations. Both present tools that help make the design and manufacturing process more effective.

We are huge proponents of both Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. We work hard to deliver a manufacturing experience that puts our clients, and their products, first. To find out more about how we can help manufacture your products with future technology innovations and processes, contact our team today.

Header Photo Sourced from E4D Technologies