Manufacturing in China is a challenge. Granted there are companies doing it themselves with varying degrees of success. Those doing it themselves have been able to forge relationships and learn the ropes after years of trial and error. And, if you asked them, and they were truthful, they would say mostly error. Even then, when the do-it-yourselfers get into what they hope to be a smooth rhythm, something changes, or they need to change something, and the learning curve starts all over again. The “big boys” can afford people on the ground in China, or they establish a business presence by opening an office or investing in a factory. All are good strategies and necessary to be successful if a company has the time and money to invest.
For those companies that are not fortunate enough to have the years it takes to learn the ropes, or the deep pockets it takes to hire a staff or open a China office, there is a resource that can help “plow the road” to smooth the journey. One term to describe this type of business is “manufacturing liaison”.
What is a Manufacturing Liaison?
A manufacturing liaison, as it relates to China manufacturing, is a company whose people understand the manufacturing culture in China, the hurtles to be overcome, the rules and regulations of doing business there, and the “street smarts” and contacts it takes to get the job done right. An effective liaison will have a dedicated staff in China consisting of native speakers who understand the manufacturing and business culture as well as the intricacies of testing, inspection, transportation, customs, duty requirements, and international logistics. In other words, the “complete package”.
Understanding Your Product and Business
An effective manufacturing liaison will take time to fully understand not only product details, but the requirements of your business and your customers as it relates to the product. Most companies focus on product details and, of course, they are important. However, there is a large group of related details that must be fully documented. Some examples are: Is the product a retail or an industrial item? Will packaging be “ready for retail” or “bulk”? Where will you or your customer take delivery? China port? A US Customs warehouse? A distribution warehouse in Atlanta? A port in Australia or the UK? Amazon.com fulfillment centers? Will the package need to pass a “3 corner drop” test? There are literally hundreds more details that are important to a successful China manufacturing project.
Understanding both English and Chinese is a given. However, translating back and forth from one language to the other takes specific expertise especially when the smallest detail can cause failure or delay. An effective manufacturing liaison will be the buffer between you and the China factory. As such, this effectively eliminates misunderstandings, facilitates any “running changes” that may be needed, and smooths out the overall communication. Cultural differences can eliminate the effectiveness of a simple translation. This is where an experienced liaison’s real-world and real-time manufacturing expertise, as well as his or her command of business and manufacturing vocabulary comes into play.
The cheapest price usually turns out to be just that…cheap. There can be nothing more expensive to a company than putting a cheaply manufactured product on the market. There may be methods that can reduce the manufacturing cost of an item that are available in China that do not compromise quality that is not known to an American company. A good manufacturing liaison will seek these out and offer them as alternatives. On the other hand, if you want your product manufactured in a particular way the liaison will ensure that is done to your wishes.
Verify Materials and Components, Testing & Inspection
A trustworthy manufacturing liaison will ensure the specified materials and components are used the manufacture of your product. Substitutions of “equivalent materials” or substitute components are not allowed. For example, if a China factory suggests an alternate or “equivalent” material the substitution must first benefit the customer and enhance the product OR reduce the customer’s cost. If that is the case a sample must be made and sent to the customer for testing and approval. Only if the customer approves the change in material is that change made. Testing and inspection are performed to the client’s specifications ensuring consistent quality. This includes interfacing with a 3rd party, internationally recognized testing company and forwarding the resulting paperwork to you.
Supply Chain Management
Coordinating components such as “long lead time” components as well as transportation and logistics is part of a good manufacturing liaison’s daily responsibilities. Regularly communicating project status is another. There is no substitute for accurate and timely coordinating and communication.
Choosing ITI Manufacturing
ITI Manufacturing has been helping companies of all sizes successfully manufacture in China since 1974. We are a full-service manufacturing liaison. We are headquartered in Sugar Land, Texas near Houston and are a registered business in China with our main office located in Ningbo. We have a full-time, dedicated staff in China that currently manages projects for our clients in a majority of China’s provinces. ITI has only one source of revenue: the products manufactured to our client’s specifications. If our clients are successful, we are successful.
Connect with our experts for information and questions regarding China manufacturing. We have the know-how and experience to ensure your product is manufactured at a competitive cost, to your expectations, with guaranteed quality. Learn about our processes and guarantees, and put ITI’s years of experience to work for your company. Call us toll-free at 888-574-6823.