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!