In this episode...

Our CEO Renaud is back with Adrian and talks about a serious problem for buyers: unauthorized subcontracting.

This is where the supplier you think is manufacturing your products, outsources the work to someone else that you have no knowledge of and haven't given permission to work on your products. This, obviously, is not a good situation...let's explore it in more detail.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings, catching up with Renaud, and some discussion about his India trip and the various content we created about it (check the links below).

04:13 - Introducing the topic: Unauthorized subcontracting.

05:04 - What is subcontracting/unauthorized subcontracting?

07:45 - Why this happens in China quite a lot and how it affects social audits.

What problems does unauthorized subcontracting cause?

12:41 - Non-compliance. 

13:41 - Poor quality.

17:51 - IP at risk.

19:26 - Products made in banned areas or staff where slave labor is a concern.

How to reduce the risks of unauthorized subcontracting happening?

23:16 - 1. Factory data collection.

26:45 - 2. Plan to improve capacity and reduce delays.

32:40 - 3. Sign a manufacturing agreement with the supplier.

34:09 - 4. Give the supplier a pre-order confirmation.

35:57 - 5. Follow up on production.

36:38 - 6. Utilize unannounced audits.

41:14 - Extra: Travel to China in Summer 2022.

44:13 - Wrapping up. 

 

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In this episode...

The Sofeast Group's head of New Product Development, Andrew Amirnovin, joins Adrian to talk about the process of getting a new product to market and, in particular, the one key thing you must do before you start mass production.

You'll get a good insight into the different kinds of testing you need to do in order to get your product to market with low risks.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings, introducing Andrew and the topic.

02:25 - What's the difference between validation and verification?

05:59 - What MUST you do before you go into mass production?

13:00 - Is a qualified design and prototype a golden sample?

16:28 - Product qualification.

18:05 - Manufacturing line qualification.

21:02 - Compliance and regulatory qualification.

24: 33 - How to get started with product qualification?

27:40 - In summary. 

 

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In this episode...

Our CEO Renaud and Adrian from the Sofeast team delve into what a great Quality Assurance program for new electronic products looks like, as new products come with a large number of unknown risks (there are many things that can go wrong in terms of components, firmware, testing, production processes, and more, which we'll get into).

Controlling these risks has become harder for importers since Covid as it's not always possible to travel to China (and other Asian countries to a lesser extent) easily or at all, meaning that they were not able to oversee the development and manufacturing of their products increasing the risks of them going into production with problems.

So, how to use local resources to do Quality Assurance activities to control those risks in your new electronic product, and what does a QA program for new electronics include?

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings, mentioning Renaud's recent trip to India to check out component suppliers.

01:55 - Introducing the topic: Why Quality Assurance is particularly important for new electronics that have a lot of risks.

Electronics QA Program

07:21 - Activities to do at the start of product development.

20:34 - Activities do when the design is frozen and we're transferring to manufacturing.

27:49 - Activities to do during mass production.

31:08 - Wrapping up. 

 

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In this episode...

Renaud comes to you live from Chennai where he's been travelling around India for two weeks exploring a lot of different types of component suppliers. He reports back on what he's learnt on this visit, how India has been changing, and why there seem to be many reasons now to consider India as an alternative to China for, at least, some of your production.

Renaud covers:

  • Which areas he visited & regional differences
  • Political stability
  • What types of suppliers could be alternatives to Chinese counterparts
  • Manual Work VS Automation
  • Where China still trumps India, for now
  • Who has already been moving to India
  • Benefits he found about dealing with factory owners and managers, and their operations, over those in China
  • Is India still let down by a lack of component suppliers for your supply chain?

Sofeast does a lot of work in India, and some of our clients are asking about moving sourcing and production out of China to more stable countries. If you're thinking the same, this quick bonus episode will be very educational!

 

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In this episode...

Sofeast CEO Renaud is joined by a returning guest, Clive Greenwood of SMC GLOBAL Manufacturing Consultants, to talk about new EU regulations that are coming in soon about supply chain transparency and 'Ecodesign.'

If you sell products in Europe you're going to be affected by today's topic soon, and the regulations promise to spread globally, too, in due course, so hit play to listen to what the future will be bringing in terms of supply chain transparency and Ecodesign.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction to today's topic

01:19 - Some background.

03:29 - What is the Ecodesign regulation going to be?

07:12 - Verifying the supply chain

17:12 - A LOT more due diligence will be required by buyers.

21:00 - What's the difference between an EU directive and an EU regulation?

23:10 - Compliance with the Ecodesign for sustainable products regulation will be taxable.

25:00 - Targeting 'bad' industries like Fast fashion.

28:23 - How ready are YOU?

33:01 - Traceability using a product passport.

38:09 - The CSRD (EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive) will replace the NFRD (EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive) reporting requirements starting in 2023.

41:02 - What can YOU do to cope with these changes?

44:40 - Summary of what the EU Ecodesign regulation focuses on. 

45:40 - Wrapping up. 

 

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In this episode...

A common problem that buyers from China particularly suffer from is a lack of transparency and control over their supply chains.

Do you know exactly who supplies your main supplier at all times? If the answer is no, this episode is for you, especially if you are worried about compliance, safety, quality, reliability, and the reputation of your business. 

Sofeast CEO Renaud and Adrian from the team go over the risks of lacking visibility over your supply chain, why it's becoming even more important, and some best practices that will help you have more transparency and control.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction to today's topic: how to increase visibility over your supply chain

03:05 - Does everyone know who's in their supply chain?

05:18 - Background: Regulations coming into action requiring more supply-chain visibility.

11:29 - Real examples of people we've worked with at Sofeast who suffered problems caused by a lack of visibility over their supply chains.

14:06 - Do Chinese suppliers often try to hide supply chain info and why?

19:18 - The drawbacks of NOT having visibility over your supply chain.

  1. You will suffer from more unwelcome surprises because if you don't have visibility, you don't have control. 
  2. You are at risk of very bad PR. 
  3. Product quality issues are probably going to more common. 
  4. Production will be more inefficient. 

31:19 - Best practices that will help you have better supply chain visibility.

  • Tips if you're developing your own products
  • Tips if you're buying products off-the-shelf
  • Confirm that you're buying from a manufacturer rather than a trading company
  • Have a manufacturing agreement

38:18 - Wrapping up. 

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In this episode...

We’re diving back into our series of episodes on how to do your own sourcing from China, from finding suppliers, getting the products manufactured, and through to post-cooperation soft skills such as building rapport with them, following up on production, and today’s topic: Improving the product quality that you’re getting from your now current supplier with 6 tips and best practices from Sofeast's CEO Renaud Anjoran.

Who doesn't want better product quality from existing manufacturers, right?

By the way, this is part 8 of this series, and if you want to go back and listen to every earlier part of this series check out the links below.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction

02:29 - Are product defects impossible to avoid?

Some advice for getting towards zero defects (with low/no capital investment)

07:53 - The supplier needs to be incentivised to care about quality

10:54 - Tip 1: Beware of batch and queue

15:57 - Tip 2: Local management needs to build up a disciplined culture

21:06 - Tip 3: Getting operators to do some QC work

26:23 - Tip 4: Implement a usability engineering approach & mistake-proofing

31:35 - Tip 5: Clear work instructions & staff training

37:18 - Tip 6: Process controls

41:54 - Wrapping up. 

Related content...

These resources will also help you understand how to build relationships with suppliers or improve (or end) those that you already have:

And, if all else fails and you need to ditch your current supplier and switch to a new one...

 

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In this episode...

Our CEO Renaud is joined by another special guest, Belinda Jacobs founder of Techpacks.co, a company that has been helping soft goods designers and brands improve production & decrease waste, through tech packs since 2016.

On the podcast we have often discussed electrical and mechanical products, but how do you develop and bring new apparel to the market? Who better to help Renaud explain than Belinda who's an expert in the field! Together they explain what tech packs are and go through the apparel development and production process step by step pointing out best practices and potential pitfalls along the way.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction to today's topic.

01:07 - Belinda's background and business, Techpacks.co

02:58 - What are tech packs?

05:51 - Do apparel manufacturers have the tendency to skip a lot of pre-production steps and rush straight into mass production unless they're told very clearly what actions to take beforehand by the customer?

The apparel development steps one by one

08:42 - Initial design.

09:53 - Why using another brand's garment as a basis for yours is dangerous.

12:52 - What comes first? Sizing, or an initial sample from the supplier for you to check the look of the garment?

14:18 - After your preliminary plan, the importer asks the manufacturer to prepare some elements. What are they?

17:18 - How do designers communicate their ideas for colors to the manufacturer, and what do they give you for approval?

20:08 - The manufacturer has produced a sample in the right style, color, and fit, what's the next step?

21:44 - Full size set samples. Needed, or not?

24:02 - When do labelling and packing need to be documented and confirmed?

27:26 - What's the best way to communicate with suppliers once you start working with them?

29:34 - At what point will importers feel confident to pay the downpayment and start mass production?

33:07 - What are 'TOP samples?'

36:01 - Summary: The garment development process that designers need to keep in mind

39:53 - Wrapping up and how to contact Belinda and Techpacks.co

 

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In this episode...

Our CEO Renaud is joined by a special guest in this episode, Andrew Hupert, a cross-cultural management and communication expert, coach, and trainer who spent 10+ years in China, is currently based in Mexico, and also creates a podcast you should check out: Globalism 2.0.

They discuss why companies are starting to leave China, in particular, American companies, where they're going, and why Western companies need to start thinking about diversifying supply chains rather than focusing on China alone. Andrew also gives some helpful insight into the business environment of Mexico and why it is a candidate for near-shoring supply chains for some American and Canadian companies.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction to today's topic.

03:04 - Andrew's background.

04:21 - What is 'Globalism 2.0?'

13:29 - What is a bad scenario in the next few years that companies who manufacture products in China for sale in the USA need to plan for?

21:59 - Is there a timetable where the situation between China and the US becomes very hard for importers?

22:57 - Implementing China +1 and going further.

26:27 - Is Vietnam a potential China alternative?

29:56 - Have a lot of companies selling into the USA & Canada already near-shored their supply chains into Mexico?

33:15 - What's the relationship between Mexico and China?

40:22 - Wrapping up. 

 

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In this episode...

Renaud answers 3 great questions that came in from our listeners, assisted by Adrian from the Sofeast team.

He'll cover how to communicate fabric quality to suppliers, tactics for coping with US tariffs on China-made goods, and strategies to cope with volatile material costs today.

 

Show Sections

00:00 - Greetings & Introduction

01:43 - "How to communicate the quality of materials/fabrics you want to buy to your supplier..? There are qualitative aspects that are outside a fabric spec description."

13:02 - How to minimize tariffs on China-made goods imported to the USA under our brand?

24:58 - Any tactics for handling volatile material and shipping costs today?

32:03 - Is China as affected by energy cost rises as other regions right now?

34:32 - Wrapping up. 

 

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