How to Find a Factory to Manufacture Your Product

Congratulations! You’ve launched a new product. As an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), you’ve iterated through several products, refining your design until you’ve settled on the production design configuration, passed relevant safety tests, and completed design verification and validation. This innovative new product can’t actually launch, however, until you find a factory to make it.

This is the point where many OEMs realize they can’t do it alone, and they need to partner with a contract manufacturer who has the factory necessary to put their product into paying customers’ hands.

It’s not just small OEMs that outsource their production to a contract manufacturer. Even larger firms get to a point where the benefits of teaming up with an outside factory are just too compelling to ignore.

Maybe you too are looking to either augment or fully outsource your production. How do you find the contract manufacturer that’s right for your product(s) and for your company?

Here are several things you should look for in a potential contract manufacturing partner:

Look for a contract manufacturer who specializes in your industry and product type

Is your product an implantable medical device? Do you make plastic children’s toys, or consumer electronics? Are you an apparel maker?

To start your search, look for a contract manufacturer with experience making the same type of product you do. Each industry has its own technical, logistical, regulatory, and competitive challenges, so it’s best to pick a factory that has encountered, and successfully resolved, all of them. Such a contract manufacturer can also help in terms of Design for Manufacturing (DFM) and other optimizations for material, cost, performance, yield, production volume, and turnaround time that you may or may not have considered on your own.

Find a contract manufacturer that has a large supply-chain network

By partnering with a contract manufacturer, you can benefit from their bargaining leverage with suppliers. The benefits for you are lower part costs (which can increase your profit margin and keep your retail price competitive) and shorter lead times. This is one reason many smaller OEMs opt to hand over a BOM to a contract manufacturer and let them do the sourcing and part procurement, as well as the assembly, packaging and distribution.

Select a contract manufacturer that is ISO 9001 certified

This increases the odds that your contract manufacturer’s quality system will match the same regulatory requirements yours does. Not only does this decrease your noncompliance risk if you’re in a regulated industry, but conforming to these standards ensures better products, higher quality and gives you peace of mind knowing that they’re regularly audited by their ISO registrars.

Evaluate the Scalability of Any Potential Contract Manufacturer

You want a factory that can deliver the scalability you need. If you’re a small niche manufacturer that may mean very small production runs of hundreds of units. For larger OEMs, you’ll require millions of units every year. When you’ve whittled down your list of potential contract manufacturers using the above criteria, visit and personally inspect the remaining top suppliers.

Scale is about a lot more than just the square footage of a shop floor. Inquire about the age, conditions, preventative maintenance and throughput of their machines. If your product requires a custom made printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), ask how many pick-and-place machines they have and what their components per hour (CPH) rates are.

If you’ll be relying on your contract manufacturer for the warehousing of parts and finished product, consider the size of the warehouse area in addition to temperature and humidity controls. Especially if housing your product in an unregulated area could cause degradation at elevated temperatures or moisture levels.

Can you handle their minimum order quantity?

Remember that initial small scale production is just as important as meeting future demand as the product popularity grows. Overseas factories often require much larger minimum order quantities than contract manufacturers based in the U.S., so that is one reason to pick a domestic factory.

By joining forces with a contract manufacturer that meets all the above criteria, you will be well on your way to enjoying the logistics, cost, and other benefits of outsourced manufacturing, all while staying focused on some of the other important tasks of innovation, strategy, and sales.

With all of the contract manufacturing partner choices out there, we know it can be difficult to find someone that not only understands your business model but also has your best intentions in mind. Partnering with RiverSide Integrated Solutions has proven to always be a win-win focused relationship.