If you’re considering manufacturing overseas, you are almost certainly aware that you will need to deal with different cultures and accept a significant increase in product delivery timescales.
However, you may want to consider a supplier closer to home as research has shown that there is a growing trend to ‘reshore’ manufacturing back to the UK, partly driven by the weakness in sterling together with rising wages in China. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of those questioned in the research – organised by General Electric, the US industrial goods company – said in the past year they had increased the amount of purchases made from UK-based producers.
When sourcing a membrane keypad or graphic overlay from an overseas supplier, there are also a number of other factors to consider. For instance, you need to ensure that your product is robust and will withstand harsh industrial environments. Also, some industries require products to meet certain standards or to be labelled with quality marks and seals, which not all overseas manufacturers are certified to give.
Service is also important; as different cultures and language barriers may affect the technical assistance you receive, the access to experienced designers, quick product turnaround, and additional benefits as standard.
So before going into production, you should be sure to check, does your overseas supplier…
1. Have certification to print the UL logo? – The UL mark is the most widely accepted safety certification mark in the US by consumers, regulatory authorities and the insurance industry, and can open up opportunities to new export markets.
2. Have the ISO9001:2008 Quality Standard certification? – The ISO 9001:2008 quality approval system means that jobs can be traced through every stage of manufacture and that all materials used on each individual product can also be traced.
3. Comply with the RoHS and WEEE? – The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) prevents the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment, and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE) means manufacturers must reduce the amount of electrical and electronic equipment that is disposed. In short, check that the equivalent regulation is adhered to by your overseas manufacturer.
4. Have a CSR policy – A Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy ensures that staff are treated correctly and that child workers are not used. A visit to your overseas manufacturer is therefore critical.
5. Use a state of the art barcoding system? – This provides customers with the ability to fully track products. Travelling half away around the world naturally creates greater risk that product can go missing, so barcoding (or its equivalent) is therefore essential.
6. Use state of the art technology? – Manufacturers who use the latest state-of-the-art technology can provide a high quality product at a fast turnaround, often with a low carbon footprint. Last year, Fascia invested in the first Sakurai servo-driven cylinder press in the industry to provide these benefits to customers.