Article written by Jack Daniels, East Bridge Engineering
We were recently approached by a new customer who asked for assistance with qualifying suppliers of toys, some designed from scratch, some modified standard products an then guiding the build cycle. Knowing that we source many high tech products, he asked if EastBridge was interested in supporting their offshore procurement activities. This got me to thinking, what’s more difficult: manufacturing high tech products or “low end” consumer products, such as toys?
When we’re tasked with building a high tech products, we generally can depend on the vendors, our customers and us speaking a common (engineering oriented) language, being able to mutually follow understandable specifications and applying well defined & proven manufacturing methods and quality standards to the process.
For fast moving/low cost consumer products (think something you’ll find in a big box retailer or at the local dollar store) the process isn’t quite so well pinned down. Even if the vendor is mid sized, it’s unlikely that they’ll have much process engineering depth, well written SOPs, quality infrastructure or significant control of their supply chain.
This segment is characterized by mom & pop proprietors… Long on gumption, short on discipline. While it’s bad for strain gauges, printed circuit board assemblies and peristaltic pumps to be defective or fail in the field, it’s really (REALLY!) bad when a low cost baby or juvenile product hurts a kid.
This all translates into high tech products being “easy” to build and consumer products being a “challenge”. If you’re in this market, best to expect a bumpy ride.
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Filed Under: Design World articles