Local Support: Why It’s Critical to International Manufacturing
Remotely managing any project or facility is a difficult task. There are subtle elements of communication that you may not be able to pick up without being in the same location, and the things left unsaid can pose major challenges. Without any support on the ground at a manufacturing facility, you could be blindsided by problems that seem to come out of nowhere from your perspective but have really been simmering for some time.
It can be difficult enough to manage a domestic supply chain without strong connections and local support. Why would you expect international supply chain management to be any different?
Local Support Mitigates Risk
International manufacturing can have multiple benefits to your business. You can save costs in multiple ways—per-piece operating costs or capital savings from not having to invest in equipment or processes that are tangential to your core business. Precious resources can be used to focus on your core competencies. You may even be able to benefit from a manufacturer’s superior expertise in producing certain types of parts or assemblies.
However, all of those benefits can be negated by problems caused by the lack of in-country resources. If you are dealing directly with an overseas manufacturer, you may have to assign your own personnel to run periodic checks on the factory, thus negating some of your costs savings, and/or completely rely on your own quality checks upon receipt of the product. These issues increase the risk of missing critical delivery dates or receiving parts that aren’t up to your quality standards.
In that situation, the benefits of a more local source with a trusted network of international manufacturing facilities and established in-country support come into play. It’s important to have “boots on the ground,” so to speak—but those boots don’t have to be yours or those of your direct employees.
The Benefits of Local Support
With a manufacturer that provides in-country local support, you don’t have to worry about language barriers and customs that can cause misunderstandings. Since the manufacturer can directly observe the facilities and interact face-to-face with the factory workers and management, it’s possible to achieve higher levels of quality and overall supply chain confidence.
Here are some of the ways those potential benefits can be realized:
- Planning – Standard methods of ensuring quality processes, such as the use of FMEAs and control plans, require an understanding of the facilities and equipment that can only be acquired on-site. It’s too easy to miss critical factors with a remote analysis.
- Quality – Quality control on the final parts or assemblies can be measured after delivery at your domestic facility—but why should you have to do that? With a partner handling inspections at the factories, there’s no need to use your own labor resources. In addition, quality assurance (building quality into the processes and maintaining it to meet specifications) is extremely difficult without a local presence to work directly with the factory.
- Process Monitoring/Continuous Improvement – The Industrial Internet of Things hasn’t reached the point yet where you can successfully monitor processes and implement continuous improvement programs in faraway lands—and even if you could, it’s unlikely you could efficiently deal with any issues that arise. Manufacturing partners can use their own in-house support as part of a collaborative effort between you and the factory to maintain quality processes and improve them when necessary.
- Delivery – In-country support personnel will be aware of all the local logistics and regulatory issues, and will be able to quickly deal with any potential delivery bottlenecks far better than you would be able to do from an office halfway around the world. They will also be aware of local holidays and cultural events that require altering a schedule to keep goods flowing smoothly.
In essence, local support allows you to be just as proactive in managing an international manufacturing supplier as you can with your domestic suppliers.
Expect Local Support From Your Manufacturing Partners
At Smartrend Manufacturing Group, we understand the value of local support. We have in-country local support at all of our international factories to ensure that your manufactured parts are delivered on time with high quality. There’s no miscommunications or guesswork involved.
Any questions or concerns can be quickly resolved without the need to travel to remote factories and struggle with local customs and potential language barriers—not to mention the “joys” of international travel. Racking up mileage points pales in comparison to the peace of mind that you can achieve knowing that your parts are in good hands with local support.
Who needs jet lag and misplaced passports? Take a look at our capabilities and see if Smartrend can help you enjoy the benefits of international manufacturing while removing the risks.