Over the years we have been asked a number of question which help customers understand the value NPI brings. Hopefully this will provide a good starting point for our discussions.
To bring real value to a client, NPI is positioned to supply products that have the following characteristics:
- The products have some complexity (high part content, multiple processes, variety of component types). Usually this is a mix of plastics, sheet metal, electronics/electrical components, etc. For example, it is unlikely NPI can be competitive supplying a molded plastic or sheet metal part.
- High volume competitively priced products demanding high quality, aggressive cost reduction, and superior delivery performance.
- Low to medium volume, high cost/mix products that have unique performance requirements and/or supply line challenges.
- Razor/Razor Blade products – Many of the products NPI has produced would be considered “Razor” type products. These products are usually dispensing or facilitating devices requiring customer supplied refills or consumables. For example, a paper towel dispenser requires paper (a consumable). The paper is a core product of the client.
Because our clients ask us for a variety of products and have other special needs related to their customers or markets, it is difficult to cost effectively develop a single, unique factory capable of meeting these diverse needs. For example, if NPI had a factory capable of producing high quality medical products, how could we address the needs of clients requiring low cost products such as toys? We believe that our customized solution better serves our clients.
NPI has both capabilities to enable clients to select only the services required to fulfill their business objectives. As China experts, we have the unique ability to utilize these capabilities to assist customers with the numerous challenges associated with controlling manufacturing performance and entering into the lucrative China Market.
If your company has the resources and functional expertise to effectively operate in China and manage all the activities and problems that can be encountered, you will be successful; but we have learned from some of the best companies in the world that having the appropriate resources at the right time can be extremely difficult. Normally, it takes a long term commitment and exceptional experience and expertise to achieve such an objective. Does your company want to invest (time and money) and take the risks associated with such an endeavor? Does it make sense to develop these capabilities for every product and accessory? NPI has 15 years of experience handling these challenges for many well known companies. Clients have frequently told us that our cost for managing their manufacturing needs is less or comparable to what they can achieve internally.
It couldn’t be simpler. We begin with a detailed conversation to understand your needs and establish mutual interest. NPI then proposes a solution (manufacturing consulting, contract manufacturing, or China market development) that will best address these requirements, which includes initial pricing, timing, and deliverables. If our proposal is accepted, a seasoned account/project manager is assigned, who will serve as your single point of contact for your project.
The major contract manufacturers normally specialize in extremely high volume production, and frequently demand that the product be fully documented to be considered. Many of these firms focus on well established commodities such as cell phones, MP3 players, and computer hardware. Their goals are to keep their factories fully utilized and minimize their overhead costs. Product and cost improvements are often low priority for many of these large firms. Occasionally, large contract manufacturers can also become competitors after producing products for unsuspecting clients. NPI serves clients that need more customized assistance in managing the product launch cycle and is focused on continuous improvement after product launch. The NPI U.S. account/project manager serves as the director of these activities and our NPI Asian team manages all of the execution details. This support is unlikely for most of the larger contract manufacturing firms.
Our clients recognize the difference between our services and what is normally considered to be a middleman. Some companies or agents simply serve as a matchmaker assisting clients by identifying potential manufacturing partners. These firms or agents often have agreements with a few factories to direct business their way for a commission, either from the client or the factory. In some instances, these firms and agents will also provide outgoing product inspection services to verify products meet quality requirements. NPI is truly a technical organization that handles all of the technical and logistics aspects associated with the launch and ongoing production of your products. We have teams of account/project managers in the U.S. and technical resources in Asia that take care of all of your manufacturing needs. Our personnel have been hired from some of the best companies in the world with expertise in project management, supply/sourcing management, logistics, quality management, quality inspection, and engineering support.
For manufacturing NPI engages with its customers based on the work to be performed on a fees basis. For contract manufacturing, NPI relies on its ability to identify cost effective manufacturing solutions to achieve predefined profit margins. We have proven that we are very competitive with clients attempting to work directly with offshore factories, because of our component sourcing and negotiation skills. Clients benefit by working with NPI, because we can provide the additional services without the complications of working directly with a foreign factory. We have the ability to leverage factories making other products for other NPI clients to achieve improved costs and service.
Many of our clients have experience sourcing in China, but choose to work with NPI for the following reasons:
- Customers don’t have the requisite support personnel in China to manage their product launches and manufacturing and supply line activities effectively. This often leads to mistakes, misunderstandings, and the inability to fully address product or factory issues.
- NPI can manage product and factory process changes, reducing last minute surprises.
- The client’s current manufacturing partner doesn’t meet its cost, quality, delivery, or service performance goals.
- Some clients lack the resources or expertise to launch and manage certain new products or accessories. This is especially true for client non-core products.
- Dealing with Chinese suppliers can be challenging due to language, cultural, legal/regulatory, and time zone differences.
- When working with NPI, clients are dealing with a U.S. company that becomes the Manufacturer of Record. This increases accountability and reduces the risks, hassles, and liabilities associated with customers wanting to manufacture in China.
- Cultural barriers to communication
- Language barriers to communication
- Time zone barriers to communication
- Fragmentation of the market into regional idiosyncrasies
- Overcoming barriers to mutual trust
- Understanding the interwoven relationship between government and business
- Finding the right sourcing, regulatory and distribution partners
- Managing product launches, costs, quality, and delivery
- Standard operating procedures vs. best practices
- Lack of adequate “boots on the ground”