In This Episode...

Renaud Anjoran, Sofeast's CEO, catches up with Adrian from the team to talk about reducing lead times from suppliers in China or other Asian countries.

They cover why reducing lead times is important, the benefits of doing so, what causes longer lead times, and some strategies you can follow to reduce them and receive your products faster.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introduction & chat about the COVID-19 situation in South China which does have a hand in delayed shipments and increased lead times.

04:05 - Why should importers be striving to reduce lead times? 

08:55 - Another reason why... 

13:55 - Some of the common causes of lengthy lead times. 

  • Where the manufacturing is taking place. 
  • The time it takes for the supplier to start production.
  • Your order size.
  • Incoming and outgoing QC checks on materials/components and products.
  • Customs delays or time spent waiting to get a container.
    And these might also cause delays...
  • Poor communication with the supplier.
  • Processing time.
  • How much inventory they keep.
  • Having a large number of components from different sub-suppliers.

24:45 - Renaud's key strategies for reducing lead times. 

40:47 - The role of vetting suitable suppliers in obtaining good lead times. 

42:52 - Wrapping up 

 

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In This Episode...

Renaud Anjoran, Sofeast's CEO, joins Adrian from the team to discuss packaging! We take a close look at how packaging has a serious effect on your products' chances of arriving with you in one piece from wherever they've been manufactured.

Packaging materials, supply chain risks, and packaging reliability testing are all scrutinized to give you a good introduction to this topic and help you choose the right packaging for your needs.

You'll see why considering packaging and developing the right inner and outer packaging for your needs should be done during the product development process and should neither be left until the last minute nor to your supplier to handle.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introduction & how COVID-19 is affecting logistics, especially in China in Summer 2021 

02:25 - What is packaging's role in the protection of products? 

04:37 - The role of pallets and crates 

06:59 - What's 'the rule' when you're thinking of packaging for protecting products? 

10:39 - Why deciding on the packaging should be an important part of the NPI process

14:04 - Examples of different kinds of products that have varying protection needs from their packaging 

17:20 - What elements are critical to choosing the right packaging? 

20:16 - Outlining which packaging reliability tests are done to replicate real-world conditions 

24:30 - Renaud's key takeaways about selecting the right packaging for the job 

27:18 - Wrapping up 

 

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In This Episode...

Renaud Anjoran, Sofeast's CEO, joins Adrian from the team to explore product development agreements that clarify your expectations, protect your IP, keep leverage over your supplier, provide you with transparency and control over your supply chain, and make it 100% clear who is responsible for what when working with a supplier on developing a new product that is going to be manufactured in China or other Asian countries.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode

00:45 - What is a product development agreement? 

03:46 - Common risks that a PD agreement will protect against

07:03 - Is working with a contract manufacturer best when developing a new product?

12:04 - The 3 key phases of a product development agreement -

17:44 - Key points that a development agreement needs to clarify

25:31 - The difference between owning Intellectual property rights and the 'deliverables' 

29:44 - Retaining the ability to switch to another manufacturer as a worst-case scenario 

31:04 - Wrapping up 

 

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In This Episode...

Renaud Anjoran, Sofeast's CEO, joins Adrian from the team to talk about rapid prototyping and rapid tooling methods to make prototypes a lot faster than production tooling, with a focus on electromechanical products and plastic injection molding.

You'll get answers to the following questions: What are rapid prototyping and rapid tooling? What do we discover from different rounds of prototyping? What are the features of hard tooling? What are the pros and cons of the different technologies used for rapid prototyping? And much more...

Ultimately, you'll see why rushing into production without utilizing prototypes to test and validate your product design is a big risk.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode

01:01 - What is rapid prototyping?

04:37 - Why to perform rounds of prototyping to get to a minimum viable prototype

06:33 - The difference between additive and subtractive manufacturing for prototypes 

08:55 - Rapid prototyping rounds and PP samples and making the distinction between rapid prototyping and rapid tooling 

Read our Guide To Rapid Tooling Prototyping for more details and a handy table that compares the different methods.

13:30 - Discussing hard tooling and its pros & cons 

18:32 - The benefits of doing iterations of prototypes during pre-production - based on this blog post: Prototesting: Reap All the Value of Proof of Concept Prototypes

21:57 - The pros & cons of the different technologies for typically making plastic parts -  Renaud talks through the different technologies that may be used for rapid prototyping:

  • 3D printing
  • CNC machining
  • Die casting
  • Silicone tooling
  • Soft tooling
  • Altering standard parts: An example here is the original Tesla Roadster which used a lot of standard parts from a Lotus.

37:57 - Renaud's key points to take away if you're an importer who is looking into doing rapid prototyping  - here are the takeaways that will be helpful:

  • Look at similar products and avoid reinventing the wheel by creating something similar but with added features
  • Keep the product as simple as possible for a V1.0 in order to get to market as quickly and cheaply as possible
  • Work with an industrial designer who has good communication and understands your vision (Andy Bartlett is a great example and we spoke with him about tooling for plastic injection molding on the podcast already).
  • Be aware of keeping control over your IP and designs when approaching manufacturers. Vet the suppliers first, get them to sign an NNN agreement and product development contract before you get them to start developing the product
  • Take your time in the product development stage to play with the design, refine it, speak to users, research alternatives and ways to simplify it

41:24 - Wrapping up

 

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In This Episode...

Renaud Anjoran, Sofeast's CEO, is back with Adrian from the team this week and they're discussing why pre-production samples (also known as golden samples) are such an important tool for obtaining your desired results once your products go into mass production.

What are PP samples? How do they evolve over time until they're a final PP or 'golden' sample? What problems do they help avoid? How to specify your exact requirements? Who pays for them? These questions and more are answered in this episode!

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode, discussion about the COVID situation and problematic raw material cost rises 

03:34 - What are pre-production samples and where do they fit in the production process? 

12:57 - Specify what YOU mean by a PP sample 

14:58 - About 'Golden' samples

16:07 - How do you assure that your external inspection company gets hold of the PP sample?

18:52 - Some issues that we can expect to iron out during pre-production sample development

21:58 - Is it common for the PP sample process to be skipped? 

23:00 - Why do suppliers deviate from your PP sample during production and what can be done to guard against this happening? 

27:28 - How to reduce variations? 

29:00 - Should importers pay for PP samples? 

31:01 - Does the inability to visit China or other Asian countries hinder an importer's ability to approve samples? 

34:05 - Wrapping up

 

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In This Episode...

Renaud interviews Greg Fleming, an experienced merchandising and manufacturing operations manager who went from New Zealand to Australia to China and finally is now based in Ho Chi Minh City in South Vietnam.

Greg's background is mainly in the apparel trade, from fabric production to retail. Due to his experience in both Vietnam and China, he is well-placed to give us some really interesting insight into manufacturing in both countries.

Since Vietnam is a very popular China-alternative for many importers, let's hear more about it from Greg here!

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode, Greg, and his experience

01:51 - What's the COVID-19 situation in Vietnam? 

04:51 - What are the main differences between working with Chinese or Vietnamese manufacturers? 

09:11 - What have been the main obstacles that have prevented Vietnamese manufacturers from digitizing their processes? 

12:23 - Is there a particular software Greg suggests for apparel based on his experience? 

15:56 - How software can save on costs of getting a new apparel product from concept to production (example) 

17:22 - How software can save on costs of getting a piece of new furniture from concept to production (example) 

19:29 - When starting the digital transformation on a factory, where to begin? 

28:57 - Summarising Greg's approach of implementing IT  

31:15 - Is there a risk that some importing countries will start to demand more proof that products are truly made in the country claimed, materials are not from certain contentious areas, they are sustainable, etc? What is the solution to this? 

34:40 - Wrapping up

 

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Remember, Sofeast provides most of our solutions in Vietnam, too, such as product inspections and factory audits, so if you are importing from Vietnam and need assistance, we can help. Visit our website at Sofeast.com

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In This Episode...

Sofeast's CEO Renaud Anjoran joins Adrian from the team to explore the best practices importers could follow when sourcing a new contract manufacturer or component supplier in China, or beyond. This includes sourcing options (who to use), the typical sourcing process, if the lowest prices are always best, IP protection, manufacturer types, and CM sourcing tools and steps.

The purpose of this episode is to give you the awareness of risks that await you, suggestions on how to qualify better supplier/CM options, and an understanding of the different types of manufacturers you may encounter and what their expectations may be.

Hopefully, you'll find a CM or supplier who better aligns with your needs.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode 

00:49 - Who should be doing the sourcing? Is working with a sourcing agent necessary?  - Renaud explains the different sourcing options and some of their pros and cons:

  • 01:53 - Commissioned agent
  • 05:00 - Third-party sourcing agency. (This is the model Sofeast's supply chain management team follows when sourcing suppliers for you). 
  • 05:52 - A trading company. 
  • 09:07 - Buy direct from a factory yourself. 

12:41 - Exploring two typical sourcing process 'templates' that can generally be followed by most buyers. 

  1. If you buy standard off-the-shelf products...
  2. If you develop your new product with confidential IP...

After going through a thorough and careful sourcing process you can end up with a preferred supplier and keep one in reserve as a backup factory, too.

20:14 - Is chasing the lowest price the best strategy? - choosing the lowest price comes with risks which we explore here.

26:33 - Tips to protect IP when sourcing manufacturers or suppliers - don't send designs, etc, to 20 potential suppliers, as you are leaking it yourself. Don't assume that your local NDA will protect you in China, it won't. 

🤔 Explore further: We spoke before about manufacturing contracts/agreements here.

32:38 - Which of the different types of manufacturers is suitable for you? ODM, OEM, or CM? - Renaud explains each of your manufacturer options:

🤔 Explore further: We covered OEMs, ODMs, and CMs in detail in this episode.

41:35 - What kinds of tools and steps might buyers follow when sourcing a CM? - if you develop a new product you need to consider the following tools and steps...

47:11 - Wrapping up

 

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In This Episode...

Sofeast's CEO Renaud Anjoran is joined by Adrian from the team for a conversation about some of the things that smaller companies who are getting products manufactured abroad either cannot or will have great difficulty negotiating with suppliers in China, Vietnam, or other popular manufacturing destinations in Asia?

This list of 9 items will give you some idea about what is realistic if you're manufacturing lower volumes.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode 

02:24 - How do you define what a small importer is? 

9 Things Small importers can't negotiate with suppliers in China & SE Asia

04:41 - 1. Negotiating with large contract manufacturers 

10:34 - 2. Reserving production capacity for the mid- or even the long-term 

13:56 - 3. Negotiating directly with large sub-suppliers 

17:59 - 4. Gaining open-book visibility about the supplier and their costs, facility, etc  

24:37 - 5. Forcing the factory to use your own ERP system 

26:32 - 6. Negotiating ‘open account’ payment terms 

28:08- 7. Negotiating product warranty & liability from the supplier 

30:52 -8. The ability to physically shape the supply chain 

32:25 - 9. Having their own teams on site all the time 

34:17 - Wrapping up

 

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In This Episode...

Adrian from the Sofeast team is joined by special guest Phil Brown, owner of Phil Brown Consultancy, who is an ISO 9001 and 14001 consultant in the UK.

Phil talks us through the ISO 9001 QMS, the requirements that make up this standard, benefits, the difference between good and bad implementations, and some tips from him to follow if you're implementing the QMS sometime soon.

 

Show Notes

00:51 - Introducing the episode and introducing Phil and his business

01:16 - Explaining the ISO 9001 QMS and its requirements - ISO 9001 is a standard designed to assure that companies deliver their customers' expectations and requirements. Phil goes through the different requirements for the standard:

  • 01:45 - Leadership
  • 02:09 - The way inquiries, quotations, and orders are handled
  • 02:29 - Using approved suppliers
  • 03:19 - Noncomformances
  • 05:05 - Records of employee competencies
  • 06:30 - Setting targets for improvement
  • 08:04 - Regular review of the business systems
  • 08:22 - Management review
  • 08:57 - Production planning and scheduling
  • 09:40 - Control of design and development
  • 10:18 - Documented information (and analysis of it)
  • 11:28 - Identification and traceability
  • 12:43 - Control and measuring equipment
  • 13:53 - Continual improvement

14:25 - Drawbacks of implementing a QMS - ISO 9001 accreditation can sometimes be used as a 'badge' by management rather than a means for real improvement of the business. 

16:17 - The importance of everyone being involved in ISO 9001 QMS implementation - this is from top management down to the individual operator. Renaud recently wrote about the mistake some management make by relying solely on a quality manager to implement the QMS and otherwise not getting involved.

17:19 - Communication's role in staff retention - a dialogue between workforce and management is far better for the company than if workers are kept in a vacuum and unaware of how the business is doing. 

18:37 - What's the difference between 'good' and 'bad' ISO 9001 implementations? - a good implementation is where (in the case of a 3rd party consultant) the person/s implementing the QMS becomes like a part of the company, gets involved in the ISO systems, but also helps encourage operators to do what the system requires. Whereas, bad implementations are often where there's no real personal involvement in it, such as when software is used. 

20:13 - Some real examples of QMS implementations that Phil has been involved in 

24:30 - Some tips from Phil for manufacturing companies who are planning to implement ISO 9001 

25:33 - Wrapping up

 

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In This Episode...

Sofeast's CEO is joined by Adrian from the team and they discuss Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) costs for manufacturers. As the name suggests, these costs are usually one-off and accrue towards the start of a new product development project and are what it takes to get your product into production. These costs are perhaps better known as R&D costs, and it's important to get to grips with them as they have a great impact on your product's sale price, as well as the feasibility of manufacturing it in the first place.

So, let's get to grips with NRE costs in this episode.

 

Show Notes

00:00 - Introducing the episode

01:15 - What are NRE costs? (A brief summary) - essentially NRE costs are all of the one-time expenses (investment) that you need to pay in order to get your product into production.

08:01 - Some examples of common NRE costs for the different production processes:

  • Plastic injection molding 
  • Metal parts 
  • Electronics 

14:37 - Going through some of the other processes and materials, and their costs - extrusion (plastic or aluminum), compression molding, silicone, etc.

17:11 - Why your NRE costs are probably higher than you're initially anticipating - Renaud shares an example of real Sofeast customers who believed that their NRE costs were fairly modest until they did the research.

19:24 - Do some suppliers pay the NRE costs for you? - it may be that when purchasing very standard products, or white labeling products which have already been developed, that you won't need to pay NRE costs as they have already been paid by the manufacturer who supplies them.

26:02 - Using a development or development & manufacturing agreement to protect yourself 

27:55 - Most manufacturers are more interested in mass production rather than product development, so how does this impact you during the R&D stage? 

28:55- How to gauge what the manufacturer is comfortable with doing for you - in general, the closer you are to production the more appealing a prospect you are to manufacturers...

30:57 - If you have a prototype that is fully functional, you're ready to give it to a factory and go into mass production, right? - No. This would indicate that you aren't even halfway yet! 

33:26 - NRE costs you need to consider when projecting your costs - these activities typically full under the umbrella of NRE costs.

34:40 - Typical recurring costs - for comparison, here are some of the typical recurring costs you will also need to consider when developing and manufacturing a new product.

37:50 - Wrapping up

 

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