In Part I of this article, (here – https://www.morphomfg.com/7-steps-to-start-manufacturing-products-in-china/ ), we went over the key aspects of Validating your idea and finding out if there’s a strong market for it. If you have just had a very successful Crowdfunding campaign, you are relatively safe.
But, wait! It’s not enough by itself. If you take a lesson from the story of Pebble, it’s still a good idea to do some independent market research.
Next, we went over the key aspects of great product design, such as aiming for simplicity and usability, sticking to conventions, and such.
Lastly, we went over the game plan you need to come up with in order to protect your intellectual property.
Now, we go over the remaining steps to take your product idea, design, and game plan to the next level.
Again, a quick disclaimer – While the list is supposed to be exhaustive, it is not intended as a definitive or a legal guideline for you to follow. It’s a good idea to hire the services of an expert while undertaking this momentous task of manufacturing your product.
Let’s begin –
7 Steps to Start Manufacturing Your Products in China the Right Way
To continue with Step 4,
Step 4 is producing a…
IV) Bill of Materials –
A Bill of Materials, is usually split into 2 categories, An Engineering Bill of Materials, or EBOM, and a Manufacturing Bill of Materials, or MBOM.
Let’s cover EBOM first.
So, what’s an EBOM?
The engineering bill of materials (EBOM) is all about how the product is to be designed, with lists of components, parts, assemblies and sub-assemblies, etc. Basically, it’s a product design to help with its engineering.
Say, you are manufacturing a children’s toy that speaks and interacts, the EBOM designed by the engineer will have a design and list of electrical and mechanical components, such as chips, buttons, resistors, screws, speakers, batteries, lights, wires, etc.
The EBOM is prepared by engineers using CAD (Computer-Aided Design) or EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tools.
To avoid going into too much technical detail, this is the step where you need a specialist hand-holding you through the design and bill of materials.
There’s another bill of materials called the MBOM or the Manufacturing Bill of Materials.
Once the EBOM is complete it is handed to the Manufacturing department, which produces the MBOM.
While the EBOM deals with the design of product, the MBOM deals with product assembly, and is much more detailed than an EBOM.
Right now, let’s talk about the importance of having an accurate EBOM, before we head over to that of the MBOM.
Having an accurate EBOM will help in –
1) Precisely manufacturing quality products that work as intended,
2) Make the path easier in the long run for manufacturers to source parts, run tests, ramp up tools for production runs, etc
3) Speed up product introduction and development
4) Get competitive rates on bulk-sourced product parts and components and have them delivered on time
5) Avoid expensive revisions that cost you both, precious time and money
An accurate EBOM makes the Manufacturing process that much smoother and helps your Manufacturer not only correctly manufacture your products, but deliver products on time, get the best prices on parts and components, save time and money on revisions as well as logistics.
Go the extra distance in preparing a complete EBOM with all the necessary and accurate details about design, parts and their required quantities precisely to save time, money, and efforts down the road.
MBOM (Manufacturing Bill of Materials) –
The MBOM consists of the product assemblies and sub-assemblies. Without it, your product will take a lot of time to manufacture, or it will be manufactured inaccurately and likely won’t work as intended.
The MBOM basically comes in a document form. It includes a list of all the components and sub-components, product assemblies and sub-assemblies, and quality control that go into building and shipping a consumable product.
So, using our earlier example, if you are manufacturing a children’s toy that speaks and interacts, the MBOM will have design, list, assembly, and sub-assembly of all parts including the interior electrical components as well as the exterior of the toy such as the eyes, the wool, the color, the adhesives, the knitting materials, etc. to put together the toy.
It will also have the packaging box, Instruction Manuals, the warranty cards, and so on.
So, the MBOM consists of every little step outlined in detail that goes into putting together a complete product ready for shipping to your customer.
Now, let’s talk about the importance of having an accurate MBOM.
Having an accurate and detailed MBOM will –
1) Help the Manufacturer in producing your products speedily and accurately,
2) Cut costs by outsourcing the manufacturing of specific parts either by manufacturing them separately or sourcing them from another vendor in bulk.
3) Enhance product quality by outsourcing certain stages of product development to specialists such as the electronic circuit and chip being outsourced to specialists to add more sophisticated features in the toy that allows it to interact with children in a live setting;
4) Make the product adaptable to changes and revisions by dividing the production stage into stages.
An accurate and complete MBOM makes the Manufacturing process that much easier, adaptable, cheaper, and faster.
It’s the difference between a product transitioning efficiently, smoothly, and cost-effectively from just a concept to an actual item bought and used by your customer, versus a haphazard concept with delayed production cycles due to last-minute inventory upgrades at skyrocketed costs, undergoing multiple revisions, over-stretched timelines and schedules of your operations department, and rising development costs ultimately ending into less than optimal products.
It’s a good idea to do the hard work in the beginning preparing an accurate and detailed MBOM with all the necessary details about product assembly, sub-assembly, parts and sub-components, their required quantities, quality control, and development stages to save time, money, and efforts down the road.
Now that are done with this super-important stage of building a Bill of Materials, it’s time to head over to the all important step of –
V) Selecting your Manufacturer –
This all-important step will either make or break your product idea.
Why so? There are a number of reasons for this.
(Here’s an article by our founder that will convince you how important it is to do your homework in advance: ‘Fidget Cube – How a $6.5 million Kickstarter campaign fucked up’ – https://medium.morphomfg.com/fidget-cube-how-a-6-5-million-kickstarter-campaign-fucked-up-52af1ef0d038)
If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to go over Part I of this article again where we went over how to protect your intellectual property. (Here – https://www.morphomfg.com/7-steps-to-start-manufacturing-products-in-china/)
The first step in selecting your manufacturer involves choosing what region you are going to manufacture your products from.
Since, this article is specifically about manufacturing products in China, we will stick to China.
(We have a detailed article to help you select the right manufacturers in China right here – https://www.morphomfg.com/selecting-the-right-manufacturing-partner-in-china/)
The steps go like this – i) choosing North province for Industrial goods and South for consumer goods.
ii) Researching your shortlisted manufacturers’ background for experience and track record of working with other clients.
iii) After that, you check their credentials, find out if you are dealing with middlemen or the final supplier, go over their licenses and accreditation, find out their production capacities, and then ensure there won’t be any language barriers while dealing with them.
iv) It is also very important to visit the factories personally as things on the ground are always different from what is represented on paper and from pictures. This will also allow you to verify costs, production equipment, and the production scale.
VI) Prototyping –
The prototyping step itself involves 3 stages –
The first stage of Prototyping generally involves 3D Rendering using tools such as AutoCAD, Solidworks, Autodesk Inventor, etc.
This is the process which allows you to decide and calculate the appearance of your final product by attaching the components involved in their desired location.
The more realistic and detailed your rendering, the better working picture it will give your product design and manufacturing teams versus a conceptual plotted drawing.
The second stage in prototyping is to create an actual initial prototype so you can go over it with a fine-toothed comb and decide on revisions. Remember, this prototype will not be perfect by any means.
It is something for you to go over and decide if it works, to help you see how your final product will look like and if the quality, working, and appearances fit your needs.
Some of the techniques available for rapid prototyping include 3D Printing, CNC Milling, etc.
Again, this stage is only for you to see iterations of your design and whether or not your product parts fit together and work as intended.
It will help you save time and money on design and testing versus testing with a traditional prototype.
If you are looking to crowdfund your product idea, you can use this prototype to start raising funds on platforms such as Kickstarter.
Depending on who you are working with and the kind of product you are manufacturing, this stage can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 3 months.
You can play with your product design and suggest improvements in this stage.
The Last Stage in Prototyping involves producing a Mass Production sample.
This is where you have gone over the product in detail and are ready to get the final sample done in order to see how the final mass produced item will look.
You won’t be able to make big changes to this sample, so be sure to get the improvements done in the earlier stage before you start this prototyping stage.
This stage can take anywhere between 2 weeks to 12 months depending on what kind of product you are manufacturing, how complex it is to manufacture it, your manufacturer, and so on.
Now, we reach the final step, which is –
VII) Logistics –
You have designed, protoyped, and manufactured a great product. Now, how do you handle the shipping, deliveries, customs, and logistics?
Generally, your manufacturer may have their own shipping policies.
Since China is a different land with its own unique policies and challenges, the supply chain to and from China, too, has its own unique challenges.
Here’s a simple 4-step process to succeed in establishing your own supply chain from China.
1. Qualify based on your suppliers background and track record. A courier service like FedEx International will likely have higher rates compared to your manufacturers’ shipping rates.
2. Put in the time and effort to go over every little detail involved in fulfilling your orders right down to having the product in your hands; Don’t take any detail for granted. Duties, tariffs, and other taxes are not included in the shipping costs. The rates change according to the type of your product and the quantity you are importing.
3. It’s important to have a China-specific strategy when developing your supply chain. You have the option to manage the freight process by either taking full control of your freight, or working with a U.S or a Chinese Freight Forwarder. Each of the options comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
It’s also very important to know the liabilities and responsibilities involved in loading your goods on the containers, risk of damages and losses, insurance, selecting container options, port handling costs, customs clearance, over land trucking, and so on.
4. Lastly, it’s a great idea to keep on testing alternative shipping options to save on costs and time. This is the thing you will perfect over time rather than the first attempt.
And now, assuming you have followed all the above steps, take delight in holding your finished dream idea in to your own hands!
It is not an easy process, but highly worth it, almost like giving birth to your baby.
The above list is not definitive. We did skip a few steps, say for example, getting your product certified to meet global standards.
This is because we believe it is more important to start racking up your product sales and minimizing the time between product conceptualization to product sales.
Once your product is selling like hot cakes, it is a good idea to go over the entire supply-chain process with a fine-toothed comb and optimize each aspect.
Here’s a question for you –
Would you rather focus on the business aspect of things and let someone else handle the technical stuff from Engineering & Prototyping, selecting and vetting Manufacturers, Protecting your Intellectual Property, right down to Shipping the final product?
This is exactly what we do at Morpho-Manufacturing.
We are a Kickstarter.com recommended Contract Manufacturing partner with 150+ clients from all over the world!
MorphoMFG has over 100,000 factories located just within a 100-mile radius of the office!
As such, we have worked hard over the years to develop a network of consistently reliable factories over the years and we are always refining this list.
This benefit has accrued to our clients in the form of a fully flexible arrangement where we can tap the best partner for every specific case having already done most of the legwork in advance.
Reach out to us if you’d like to learn more about how we can help you choose the ideal manufacturing partner and bring your product to life.
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