Welcome To Same World Networking

Sameworld.net is the networking blog for Supply Chain Specialists interested in creating channel partners around the globe.

A key essence for success in a new market is to identify the ‘Right Partner’. We appreciate the huge importance of this aspect and are willing to invest the necessary time and effort to get it right. There is NO substitute for "Grunt Work" and it is essential to meet the prospective partner, understand their technical capabilities, visit their manufacturing unit and assess the management team. With the partners who add to this blog we hope to achieve that. Mark Kennedy Same World Trading

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

.... 10 ways to avoid the Pitfalls of Sourcing from China . . Part 4 & 5

4. Avoid complex manufacturing processes

This is a huge pitfall to avoid, as you could waste a fortune trying to source a product that just doesn’t fit the Chinese model.

There are many manufacturers in china that produce complex products such as digital cameras and consumer electronics, to a very high standard. However these are usually produced directly for large global companies that have their own strong presence in China, exerting direct control of the manufacturing process, ensuring nothing goes wrong.

Follow this simple rule

The more complex the product, the more ways it can (and will!) go wrong when sourced from China.

Sometimes Chinese assets can become liabilities.

Let me explain.

In the UK we often have a high degree of automation involved in our production processes. This allows us to avoid costly labour when producing.

However, we should not forget that automation often brings repeatability and reproducibility. Microprocessor controlled machinery has not only reduced cost but also enabled precision and quality without the need for expensive rework and scrap.

In most cases, the low labour cost in China more than wipes out the cost benefits of automation.

Enthusiasm for the resultant low cost price can also blind us temporarily to the product problems caused by variation in the process.

This is often hidden during development because endless samples can always be cheaply produced, but the ones submitted for approval may have been selected from a large population of “off spec.” parts.

The Chinese solution to this is often to throw labour (a cheap resource) at the problem. Provided labour content is high and the product not too complex, this solution prevails.

If your product is too complex, or tolerances too tight, this solution will not work.

In general, the Chinese labour force is relatively unskilled, when compared microprocessor aided UK operators, so complexity is always going to be an issue when sourcing Western Standard Components from China.

Need help deciding whether your product is too complex to source from China?

5. Don’t take quality for granted

There is a huge variation in the quality level of products being sourced from China, and this should be an area you pay particular attention to.

It’s simply not sufficient to take a back seat, and let the manufacturer worry about this, as they probably won’t worry about it at all.

In my experience, an ISO certificate in China is no guarantee of quality. So when sourcing from China, managing the level of quality is a great way to remove risk.
Here are some general guidelines, direct from my own experience to help control quality

1. Provide your Chinese contacts with a very clear and understandable product specification. Remove all ambiguity and cover all the angles. Try to predict areas and scenarios that could go wrong, and specify the minimum level of quality in each case. Assume nothing.

2. Walk through the entire product development and production process with the manufacturer to ensure that you both fully understand, in detail what will happen at every single stage. Don’t forget to include how your product should be packaged.

3. Never delegate control of the manufacturing process. You must always own and dictate the process, in order to control the level of quality. This may initially mean frequent visits to China, but without this direct ownership, you are throwing the quality (and reputation!) of your product to chance.

4. Be aware that there a two unofficial quality levels in China with two separate price lists: European and Chinese, so if you’re supplying a European based market, you’ll need to specify this.

It is essential to get your supplier to explain all your requirements to you many times until you are absolutely certain that he or she understands perfectly.

If you don’t have access to a trusted local agent you may be working through an interpreter. These are often young people selected for their excellent language skills. It is very unusual to find a good interpreter that is also a competent engineer, or technician.

If you’re looking to source a product from China, and are concerned about the level of quality, contact me to see if I can help you minimise the risk.
Just contact me via my website www.sameworldtrading.com

No comments:

Post a Comment