Companies in the United States are increasingly turning to factories in China to manufacture their products. China manufacturing can benefit both U.S. manufacturers and their domestic consumers. However, if the process isn’t handled correctly it’s possible to run into serious issues of product quality and availability.
How can U.S. manufacturers eliminate the roadblocks, downsides, and potential pitfalls of China manufacturing? The answer is to hire a manufacturing liaison to handle the process for you.
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What Types of Companies Need Help with China Manufacturing?
Many U.S. companies have profited from their relationships with Chinese manufacturing firms. Chinese factories offer lower labor costs – typically about a quarter of those found in the United States – which help companies offer lower-priced goods to their customers. In addition, products manufactured in China are of typically high quality, which lowers returns rates and improves customer satisfaction.
However, working with an offshore manufacturer can sometimes be challenging. That is especially so for startups and companies new to China manufacturing. It’s not uncommon to see temporary success turn into ongoing frustration as companies engage with their offshore partners. The resulting issues can make for a challenging relationship or completely counteract any benefits otherwise accrued.
What Issues Might a Company Encounter with China Manufacturing?
It’s one thing to work with a manufacturing partner down the street or in another part of the state. It’s quite another to deal with a company located across the ocean, in a different time zone, where all your contacts speak a foreign language.
What kinds of issues might present themselves when working with a Chinese manufacturer? There are many.
Locating the Best Offshore Supplier
Before most U.S. businesses have their first contact with Chinese manufacturers, they have to select the best offshore supplier to work with. Given the distances, language barriers, and cultural differences involved, this can be challenging. There is often little detailed information on the supplier’s website, and employees can’t easily visit facilities half a world away. It is difficult to ascertain a company’s reputation from such a distance.
Managing Negotiations and Meetings
The first experience most U.S. companies have with Chinese manufacturers is meeting and negotiating with representatives of the offshore company. U.S. businesspeople have to work through language barriers, understand a new and different culture, and learn appropriate business etiquette. In addition, there’s the issue of communicating with partners whose workday is during our nighttime hours.
Dealing with Contracts and Legal Issues
Dealing with a manufacturer in another country presents unique legal issues. When preparing contracts, you need a thorough understanding of Chinese law and how it differs from U.S. business law. It’s important to know both your rights and the rights of the factory in China. You also need to protect your intellectual property, as IP laws are much different in China than they are in the U.S.
Understanding Materials and Specification Requirements
When you’re getting ready to send an order to the Chinese factory, you need to thoroughly communicate what you need and expect. The specifications you send must be clear and thoroughly understood by the other party. It helps to provide samples, mock-ups, and the like so the factory knows exactly what to produce. It’s also important for both parties to understand what is necessary when you need product changes, revisions, and upgrades.
Understanding Production Schedules and Logistics
Know that holidays and work schedules differ between China and the U.S. You need to understand the manufacturer’s production schedules and logistics so as not to be surprised by any shipping delays.
Communicating with Offshore Partners
Effective communications are key to a successful relationship with any offshore partner. Language and time zone barriers must be overcome, as constant communication is necessary to make sure production remains on schedule. It’s also important that the factory quickly updates you on any production changes midstream.
How Can a Company Avoid Issues with China Manufacturing?
There are several things a company can do to avoid any issues that might arise with China manufacturing.
First, research all your options before choosing a partner. Don’t rely on a factory’s website to provide all the information you need; it’s important to reach out and establish a direct connection with key players. You should also request quotes or ask to see prototypes before making a decision. The more you know about a company, the better decision you can make.
It’s also important to maintain constant communication with the partner you choose. You need to clearly convey your requirements and expectations early in and throughout the process. Ensure that there is no confusion about what you want and what your partner can provide.
That said, you can’t micromanage the manufacturing process from thousands of miles away. You need to rely on your offshore partner to do their job; your job is to take advantage of their skill and expertise.
How Can a Manufacturing Liaison Help with Your China Manufacturing?
How can you make sure you choose the right partner – and that all the details are properly managed? The best course of action is to hire a manufacturing liaison, such as ITI Manufacturing, to manage the relationships with all your offshore partners. A manufacturing liaison knows how to locate the best companies to meet your company’s manufacturing needs, negotiate the proper contracts, and handle all relevant legal issues.
A manufacturing liaison can also manage the entire manufacturing process for you. ITI and similar liaisons know how to navigate the ins and outs of offshore manufacturing and ensure that your company’s products are made to your exact specifications, on your time schedule, with a high level of quality control.
Let ITI Manufacturing Help You Eliminate the Downsides of China Manufacturing
With more than 45 years of experience working with overseas manufacturers, ITI Manufacturing knows which companies make good partners and which don’t. We’ll help you negotiate contracts and then put our professional staff onsite to manage the entire process. We make sure that you get the products you want, when you need them.
Contact ITI today to learn more about our manufacturing management services!