A site visit can be an invaluable exercise in helping you to better understand your electronics manufacturing services (EMS) outsourcing options and to see first-hand the operational capability, procedures and culture of a prospective EMS partner.
If you’re looking to outsource to an electronics manufacturer for the first time, then it’s an opportunity for you to assess whether this is the next logical step for your business.
And if you’re already outsourcing, but are considering alternative options, then a site visit could help you to decide whether it’s the right time to hand over that responsibility to someone new.
In this blog post we explore some of the key questions you may want to consider if you choose to visit a prospective electronics manufacturer in person.
A tour of your potential assembly partner's manufacturing facility can also offer useful insight which simply isn’t possible to glean from brochures, sales calls, websites or proposals.
While a site visit doesn’t constitute in itself a full site audit, it can form a vital element of the stringent research process that will help to guide your outsourcing decisions.
If you're at the stage of having short-listed several prospective suppliers, then you’re likely to have already asked them to complete a pre-qualifying questionnaire to determine they're a possible fit for your company.
You'll also want to gather your own independent references and will want to conduct out checks of the ownership history, directorship and financial health of your potential EMS provider - all of which takes time.
Before you put together your Request for Quotation (RFQ) however, it may well be worth booking in time for a site visit first.
Depending on its complexity, an RFQ can take considerable effort on your part to compile - and can take several weeks to be returned by your prospective assembly provider.
So before you get too entrenched in paperwork, it makes sense to ensure that any potential partner looks, and feels, like the right match for you.
Key questions for your potential EMS partner
Once you’ve confirmed a date for a site visit, what are some of the questions you may want to consider?
- First and foremost, do you think you can work with this company? Can you see yourself working alongside their management team? And can you visualise your product being produced in that environment?
- Is your prospective assembly partner comfortable for you to see every aspect of their business in action and are they happy to be quizzed on all elements of their capabilities and operations? Is their workforce skilled, dedicated and passionate about what they do?
- What’s their capacity to meet seasonal demands or spikes in activity? Do they operate dual manufacturing locations within the UK or do they have off-shore facilities which may offer cost-saving advantages or assist with disaster recovery solutions?
- Will the people you’re in conversations with now be part of the same team that will oversee production in the long term? If not, then it may prove a frustrating and time-consuming experience to have to repeat your requirements further down the line to people who weren't part of those initial discussions.
Whilst the boardroom, sales pitch and company presentations can help to to build up a picture of a potential assembly partner, a site visit can provide invaluable insight and a vital first impression of an electronics manufacturing facility, its personnel and the type of products they build on behalf of other customers.
Your instinct also has an important role to play. If you find it difficult to get answers to key questions, or if the chemistry on a site visit “feels wrong”, then at least you’ll be able to reach that conclusion early on.
A site visit offers a chance for face-to-face contact with the key members of the manufacturing and engineering teams who will oversee production of your products. And crucially too it’s an opportunity for a potential assembly provider to gain a better understanding of the individual needs, unique challenges and desired outcomes of your business.
Intuition counts for a lot and, when it’s combined with thorough research, it can help you to establish with complete confidence that your prospective EMS provider is the right fit for your company.