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Asking the Correct Questions When Manufacturing in China

Jun 26, 2017 | General, Manufacturing in China

Okay, this will be a slightly odd jumping off point, but bear with me; there is a point to this.

What’s a dartboard made of?

It used to be that everyone knew that dartboards – the high quality, ‘real’ ones – were made from camelhair.

Except, of course, they weren’t.

Dartboards are made from Sisal fibres (a hemp like fibre from Agave species).

So what to take away from this? Sometime what ‘everyone’ knows isn’t actually true. This is why you need to ask the right questions. Camelhair coats cost quite a lot of money so a dartboard made out of that would be quite expensive (to say the least). Sisal fibres, on the other hand, are cheap and plentiful.

I suppose my point is that you will receive a lot of advice from well meaning (but not necessarily correct) friends, family and even professionals. The key thing taking your time to discover what it is that you want from your products and ask the questions to get the answers you need.

We at GHL have worked hard over the years to put together a list of procedures that we use when we’re working on a new project or when we meet a new factory. As a result of that, we know who not to deal with. We can pick out the signs to that say ‘this is a supplier to avoid’. That’s firsthand experience, but if you’re working alone you’ll need to develop your procedures. This is because, working with GHL or working alone, there is a focus on the customer to make sure that you make clear what you want from the product.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

What is most important to you? The cost? The colours?

What’s most important to the customer? The packaging? The branding? The product material?

What if you’re selling to a high street retailer? Do they specifications that your product will need to meet? Does it need to be colourfast? Is the material meant to be a particular quality? Does the factory need certifications? Does your product need to be tested to a particular ISO standard? If your end goal is to sell to one of the big guys it’s worth thinking about this at the very beginning of your journey.

If you don’t make it absolutely clear to the factory what they want they will use what they have available. That may be fine. Or it may not.

Other questions to keep in mind:

1) What are the factory’s payment terms? It will likely be 100% up front for your first order.

2) What is the lead time on your product? It’s usually 45 days on a brand new product (30 days on an existing one) but both of these are conditional on your order being tailored to the factory’s production schedule. Also, is your product being shipped by air or by sea?

3) Do you want the goods inspected at any point? Quality assurance is when the process of the production is inspected. they can include things like factory inspections and checking the normal production in the factory.

There’s also Quality control – which is when the focus is directed at the product. You could do this all the way through the production process, but normally a pre-shipment production is done (to make sure there are no major mistakes).

A company like GHL has staff in China who can do this as part of the services that we offer. There are also 3rd party companies who specialise in doing this type of inspection. Whatever service you’re using the same point applies, you will need to be clear about what it is you’re expecting from the factory. You could organise 100% QC of your product, but – except in exceptional cases – that probably overkill.

A company like GHL have the the experience to be able to adjust along with your expectations. We can meet your target cost,  help suggest less expensive materials and offer advice.

But that’s all it is – advice. If you decide that what the world really needs is a camelhair dartboard then we’re happy to help you achieve your vision. Although we might mention the price of sisal fibres a few times along the journey.

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