Selecting a contract manufacturer can be knotty

Even for supply chain professionals, well experienced in setting up and optimizing complex global supply chains, the selection of a contract manufacturer (CM) is a special case.  And because the contract manufacturer sits at the center of the supply chain—or supply mesh—they are typically the most important supplier for any OEM who outsources.

Colourful Ropes

Here at Zebulon Solutions, we have decades of experience in contract manufacturing from both sides of the table, yet still selecting the right CM is often a Gordian knot. And while a swift slice with a sharp blade occasionally is the right solution, a more subtle solution is often to be preferred.

We start with generating a list of musts and wants collaboratively with the customer:

  • location
  • type of manufacturing needed
  • specialized skill sets
  • size of product
  • target cost of product.

We then pull together a long list of contract manufacturers to query as to interest and capabilities via a Request for Information (RFI).  In parallel we develop a Request for Quotation (RFQ), which we send to qualified contract manufacturers. Once the RFQ responses have been analyzed, a CM visit is scheduled for face to face discussions, extended factory floor walking tours, and a chance to kick the proverbial tires. After the site visits, and probably several more detailed conversations with the contract manufacturer, a selection is made.

And then it’s time for contract negotiations. Manufacturing Services Agreements (MSAs) are special beasts that require careful attention.  We can help with this too.


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