Author Topic: Asian Manufacturing Questions  (Read 2082 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline kevyk

  • Contributor
  • Posts: 21
  • Country: us
  • Mac software by day. Electronics by night...
    • My Living Desktop
Asian Manufacturing Questions
« on: July 11, 2011, 03:54:35 pm »
I have a product idea in design and looking to find out what it takes to get it manufactured in Asia.

Can someone who has actually dealt with inexpensive Asian manufacturing please comment on:

1) What are the potential start-up costs?

2) What are usual lead times to get something back in your hands to ship out to customers (first run testing to final product runs)?

3) How reliable are the companies to deal with and what are a few of the better ones?

4) How is unit testing handled?

5) Anything else I might need to know to get something manufactured and shipped back to the US given a schematic / PCB layout / sample product.

Thanks!

Kevin
Amuse, Inc.
www.mylivingdesktop.com
Kevin
 

Offline ipman

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 170
  • Country: ro
Re: Asian Manufacturing Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2011, 04:12:41 pm »
You are requesting a lot of business information, which I doubt you can get them here, in a engineering blog. Here you will find mostly engineers and hobbists, not bussiness-oriented people.
As for what we experience: some products made in China can be good, other bad, depending on price paid, but that's the case everywhere.
Anyway, been there, an advice: if you are going there, don't forget that you are in a communist country. Different rules, except one: money rules, lots of them.
Wife hates words like Fluke, Ersa ...
 

Offline gregariz

  • Frequent Contributor
  • **
  • Posts: 550
  • Country: us
Re: Asian Manufacturing Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2011, 05:16:42 pm »
I have a product idea in design and looking to find out what it takes to get it manufactured in Asia.

Can someone who has actually dealt with inexpensive Asian manufacturing please comment on:

1) What are the potential start-up costs?

2) What are usual lead times to get something back in your hands to ship out to customers (first run testing to final product runs)?

3) How reliable are the companies to deal with and what are a few of the better ones?

4) How is unit testing handled?

5) Anything else I might need to know to get something manufactured and shipped back to the US given a schematic / PCB layout / sample product.

Thanks!

Kevin
Amuse, Inc.
www.mylivingdesktop.com

I'm going through the same process Kevin, albeit very slowly, on some products i would like to bring to market. I don't have specific answers for you. I suspect if you are looking for a full turnkey provider of product such that you can send the design off and get back finished product you will probably need someone with local knowledge in a place like Shenzen. Theres a china electronics show there twice a year. I had been uncomfortable with the idea of such a full service from the Chinese side for worry of product walking out the back door as well as the front door. On that note I decided to enquire about simply assembly services. For example, I use goldphoenix for my prototypes, they also offer a PCB assembly service. You will have to make specific enquiry on your product to one of the PCB houses who also offer an assembly service. You will have the option to have them source parts for you, otherwise you will have to provide the entire BOM to them. I have chosen not to have plastics done due to expense. I found that I was looking at quite a few $K to have any types of plastics done, and they came back to me and recommended using an existing housing and having it machined. I then tracked down a local machine shop to have custom modifications done. I have been looking at about $20 per housing to have it machined ontop of the $15 for the raw housing. Because of the decisions I've made I decided to have final testing and assembly done here at home. This consists of little more than screwing a board into a case, downloading firmware and connection to a jig with a few pieces of test equipment connected to a labview program with a few sequences included. It really will be up to you to define what an acceptable passing test is for your product. It will also be up to you to decide what level of assembly you are comfortable with, and whether you are comfortable managing the supplier relationships yourself.

Here's a couple of tips I have basically learn't along the road.

1. It sounds business school but its needed. Look at the competitive environment - segment who is currently in the market - their pricing, features etc and make sure you are confident there is a market for a fair price. Are their any gaps in the current market environment? The question is - if your product was on the market today, would you buy it and why? Don't try and guess future demand.

2. Finish your product before you get anyone to sign off on any manufacturing. Some of my rev. numbers ended up being pretty high for one of the products simply because available components changed as I went along. And its better to get absolutely everything right before moving on. I find this is hard and can lead to a few more revs when you are doing it via midnight engineering as there are no second pairs of eyes that can look over your work. When you pull the trigger on manufacturing you don't want any surprises. So that means finish it, get it in the final form with enclosures, test it to death and finally put it through FCC/etc approvals (this I've found to be the hardest and is something I'm still struggling with - not because its hard but because of expense - expect 5-10K). Because I chose to use a number of suppliers and do final assembly, my proto process morphed into my final assembly process. I think the trick is to design things that need as little work on your end as possible - ie nothing more than screw it in a case - no soldering required. So you'll have to design with manufacturing in mind. If you need a lot of manual labour then maybe you do need a full service provider, otherwise unless your product has extremely high margin's you won't have a life.

3. Do your numbers. With an essentially finished product, how many do you need to make to break even? Are you confident you can shift that many even if there is minimal interest? As I went along, when I had proto quantities priced and delivered I always asked for 1K,2K quantity quotes in addition. Use these to do your break even analysis. I did this analysis all the way along from the beginning, it will change, - this can give you some confidence of what cash level you are going to have to fork out. I also needed a lot of test equipment to get through product development. I chose to buy this second hand. Figure out what you need and do full costing and then amortise this cost across your expected sales.

I understand ipman's reservations, but I disagree, I think its extremely important engineers take up the challenge of business and market themselves, their ideas and products. I think the general avoidance of the business environment by engineering schools has damaged the reputation, confidence and skills of engineers themselves. The reason we need this is that there is a lack of high quality engineering employment. Many employers in the tech space treat engineers like cattle to be pked and proded for whatever disaster controls the day. To change this we need alot more tech startup's in the west by people capable and confident enough to bootstrap themselves without reliance on other peoples money and hence control. Traditionally we've had some good success with 'hobbyists' doing it in their garage first. Lets continue the tradition!

Now I am by no means an expert but am coming to the end of the process myself so take what I said with a grain of salt.
 

Offline vk6zgo

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4448
  • Country: au
Re: Asian Manufacturing Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2011, 07:24:26 pm »
My experience has been slightly different,being a Tech,trying to make Chinese sourced stuff work.
We didn't have any direct Engineering input into the design of this equipment,apart from a basic specification.
The units (Radio transmitters) seemed to have had no quality control at all,as most of the faults we found were due to absolutely lousy  assembly & poor choice of materials.
The rest were due to bad design.
Initially,of 5 units,1 almost worked,4 did not work at all.
We tried to get some sense out of the factory,but they gave us a lot of double-talk.
Eventually,they said "Send 'em back",so we did.
When they came back,they all "sort of" worked,& with a bit of work were useable.
After a week or so,they started blowing up the PA stages.

We never got any sense out of the factory,& ended up fixing most of the problems in house.

I believe that one of our mistakes was excessive cultural sensitivity,in that we were so  worried that we might make the  Chinese suppliers "lose face",that we "lost face" ourselves,& they thought they could put anything over on us.

Obviously,this is a different situation with a small number of high cost items,rather than mass production.
In fact,most of the mass produced Chinese stuff I've seen has been fairly reasonable.

What would be best,if you could do it,is learn Mandarin,or find a translator who understands the technology,--& who does not defer to the high powered bosses of the company you are dealing with.
(In other words,an old grump ,not a young Engineering student).

VK6ZGO
 

Offline saturation

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 4788
  • Country: us
  • Doveryai, no proveryai
    • NIST
Re: Asian Manufacturing Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2011, 08:45:03 pm »
This is a key concept.  I have a good friend who has to fly to China from the West,  almost monthly, to keep track of their contracts.  They are a very big manufacturer and have been in China for most of a decade, and until now, they are still fighting from getting screwed by the companies they've worked with for decades; no loyalty there, not to mention IP theft.  Every batch requires duplicate US QC, even after years of meetings and requirements.  Only threats of nonpayment prevents discord.

Over the recent years they have slowly moving contracts to India and Mexico. 


I believe that one of our mistakes was excessive cultural sensitivity,in that we were so  worried that we might make the  Chinese suppliers "lose face",that we "lost face" ourselves,& they thought they could put anything over on us.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2011, 11:34:13 am by saturation »
Best Wishes,

 Saturation
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf