Are you planning to launch production of a customized product in a China factory? There are many ways this project can get derailed, resulting in long delays and significant cost overruns.
The more “new and untested” the new product design is, the more ambitious your project, and consequently the more help you and your supplier will need. This first step will influence the approach of all subsequent steps.
Can you use one of your existing suppliers, and how much will they need to adapt their processes? Or do you need to search a new supplier, and in that case what criteria should you be looking at? Our consultants can help evaluate the risks related to potential suppliers.
In case you are working in a new company starting to manufacture in China, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of suppliers and sub-suppliers — they are probably the main cause of new product introduction delays.
Let’s say you have selected a main supplier that will take care of some fabrication/machining as well as assembly and testing. Have they set up their processes in a way that will make it easy to reach your quantity and quality requirements? Maybe they have not dedicated some lines to your new product — in that case will this cause issues? We can assess their line setup and provide suggestions for improvement.
If your product is different from what the factory usually manufactures in at least one significant way, the people who will work on your product need to get some training.
This is an area most Chinese manufacturers tend to overlook, and it has serious implications at the time of production launch. The reason is, factory management doesn’t want to slow down their regular production schedule. But there are easy ways to get workers trained, for example on a small NPI line on the side.
Making a few pre-production samples does not uncover all the issues that you will face once mass production is launched. One of the steps of the PPAP (Production Part Approval Process — an approach very common in the auto industry) is to force the line to “run at rate” for a certain time. It is the only way to find many of the issues that might affect mass production and to fix them without delaying the first shipment.
There are several ways to “go live”. Depending on the complexity of the product, production rate might have to be ramped up progressively and special measures might have to taken in order to ensure quality is good.
If steps 1 to 5 were done right, step 6 should take place at the expected timing and should not uncover serious issues. It means that following the process we outlined above is the best way to get your new product made in China and launched with favorable results.
New Product Development is a process, and should be designed and managed as such. The PPAP approach, coming out of the auto industry, is an excellent basis for this.
Hank has proven expertise in driving change and lean manufacturing transformations, especially as it relates to NPI, engineering team management, and worker training.
Our consultants have experience in the following industries: automotive, electronics, medical devices, aerospace, oil & gas, metal (die casting, machining…) and plastic , toys, furniture, food, battery & chemicals, and cut & sew.
We mostly work in the following provinces: Guangdong (Shenzhen, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Shantou), Zhejiang (Hangzhou, Ningbo, Wenzhou), Shanghai , Jiangsu (Kunshan, Suzhou, Wuxi, Nanjing), Fujian (Xiamen, Quanzhou, Fuzhou).