5 Things To Remember For Manufacturing In Asia


By Brian Sather

Doing business internationally can be incredibly overwhelming. Having your personal business depend on the work of someone on another continent is even more daunting. Before you move manufacturing operations overseas, there are five things you need to remember.

  1. IP can be protected
  2. Prototyping (correctly) is key
  3. Communicate clearly, effectively, and frequently
  4. Quality Control is meant for professionals
  5. Logistics requires preparation and planning

 

1. How to protect your IP

Many people are familiar with the concept of a patent to protect their intellectual property. What you might not know is that a patent may only be applicable to products made and sold in a single country. If you are currently manufacturing overseas or have plans to do so, it is wise to file for patents in any country you will be selling or producing in.

Without securing protection in other countries, your product can be legally manufactured and sold there. While patent filings have the potential to become time-intensive and expensive processes, do not cut corners. The same goes for NDAs, factory contracts, and any other legal protections. Always take the time to know and understand local law. You need local knowledge and most likely, local attorneys to do it right.

Once you have legal protections in place, you are good to go! Well, not exactly. While legal protections are a must have, you also need to make sure you are dealing with reputable factories.

The very best protection you can have isn’t a contract — it is strong relationships. Only work with those who will protect your interests by refusing to work with copycats, always maintaining quality standards, and never disclosing proprietary secrets. That way you can also make sure that your factory names and locations are kept out of the public record, and competitors cannot find and attempt to utilise them.

One last thing - always remember that shipping records are public information. If you do not want a competitor to know where you manufacture your product you must make sure your factory is not the shipper of record. Find another party who can act as a shield by becoming the shipper of record.

2. How to prototype correctly

Before you can begin production with a factory, you must provide certain specifications and samples. Prototyping and sampling can be quick and efficient or long and complicated. It all depends on the information provided and communication given to the factory.

Far too often companies skip this critical step thinking that they can avoid upfront costs and get moving faster by simply sending a physical sample and asking the factory to copy it. That is a big mistake that usually ends up costing more and taking longer. To avoid these issues always create a tech pack.

A tech pack is a document that outlines your product in detail. It includes measurements, materials, colours and various other details pertinent to the function and appearance of your design. Creating this tech pack is critical to the success of your product and should be done during the development stage. Creating it will help to test your product. Does it function the way it should? Can you clearly explain the process by which it is to be assembled? The simpler and more detailed the tech pack is, the less likely you are to run into any confusion or error when moving to full production.

3. Communicate clearly, effectively, and fequently

As mentioned, it is important to establish clear and effective communication with the factory from the beginning. Failure to do so can lead to a slew of speed bumps in the future. The most obvious issue you’re going to run into is a language barrier. If you aren’t local or don’t have access to a local team who can assist you, trying to communicate your needs and specifications can be difficult.

One instance of misunderstanding can set you back weeks in your production process. For this reason, it’s a no-brainer to get someone on your team who can speak the native language. In addition to understanding the written and spoken language, you must understand the language of the industry.

When you receive correspondence about your production with the terms MOQ and PPS, are you going to understand what is happening? You don’t have time to delay a response, because waiting a few hours here can mean a whole day overseas due to the time difference.

It is important that you have a clear and firm understanding of the established timeline of your production. You will find that extra days and even weeks can be quickly added onto your delivery date. Whether it’s an issue with QC, or an unexpected holiday, these instances need to be planned into your manufacturing timeline.

Not all hiccups can be prepared for, so knowing how to handle unexpected delays is essential. This is another example of why proper communication is vital.

4. Quality control

The entire purpose of going into production is to receive a product ready to be sold or used by your customers. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting weeks or months for your finished product only to open the package and find that much or all of your product is defective and can’t be sold at all.

Quality control is a step that cannot be skipped or taken lightly. If you don’t have a team overseas to inspect your products during and after production, it is more likely you will have a higher percentage of defective goods. The factory will offer to perform quality checks for you, but what they offer and what you need are typically two different things. Never leave this step to someone who is unqualified or who puts the interest of the factory ahead of yours.

5. Plan and prepare your logistics

Not all pitfalls of the manufacturing process happen in the factory. You don’t want to finish up your production run on time just to have shipping slow you down. Once your goods arrive in port, having your paperwork in order can keep you from getting stuck in customs. If you do get held up, it’s important to know who to call and what to say to get the goods released.

Doing your research about duty rates and how to categorise your product for customs will save you from extra expenses and halted shipments.

 

Don’t let the promise of larger volume and regular quality checks keep you from evaluating all aspects of this process. If you follow these five steps before manufacturing overseas, you’re sure to save time, money and a few headaches.

By: Brian Sather - CEO at Blacksmith International

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