Fire Your Contract Manufacturer If They Ignore Lean Training

Posted by Craig Zoberis

Nov 25, 2014 9:22:00 AM

lean-training-benefits-from-contract-manufacturers.jpgWhen you form a long-term partnership with a contract manufacturer, the relationship involves a great deal of trust. After all, the entire production process for that product line or piece of equipment is out of your hands – and entirely in theirs.

But sometimes that trust is misplaced and the contract manufacturer, who was supposed to save you money and take production headaches off of your hands, ends up costing you more than expected and causing even more difficulties than the original production process itself.

For many Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) companies, a soured relationship is an all-too-common occurrence with their contract manufacturing partner, especially when it comes to issues of price changes and unmet expectations for efficiency. Yet, many OEM companies aren’t sure how to detect a poor contract manufacturer from a superior one.

The secret for sifting out the right contract manufacturer from a sea of mediocre alternatives lies in their approach to lean manufacturing: Do they merely give lip service about a lean culture and company mindset? Or do they take the lean approach seriously by implementing regular lean training and development opportunities?

While lean training might not seem like the most important facet of a contract manufacturer’s operations, it’s the one measure that tells you how seriously they invest in manufacturing efficiency and customer satisfaction. Many private label manufacturers might look competitively similar when it comes to their equipment, processing time or initial prices, but it’s easy to tell whether or not a manufacturing partner invests in lean training.

Here are four reasons why you should fire your current contract manufacturer (or never hire a new one) if they don’t invest in lean training:

1. Reduced Time To Market

Lean training ensures that all employees at your contract manufacturer are continuously streamlining processes and completing tasks faster than before – at no cost to the quality of your product or equipment. In turn, this consistent training in the lean manufacturing mindset reduces your OEM company’s time to market by involving a contract manufacturer earlier in the product development process. And, when outsourcing domestically, lean training ensures that your OEM company retains the advantage of a quick time to market without incurring significantly higher costs than offshore outsourcers.

2. Fewer Errors, Greater Savings

Lean manufacturing isn’t just a trendy toolkit or manufacturing fad, it’s a philosophy and mindset that need to permeate every aspect of your private label manufacturer’s business. With a lean manufacturing approach, a contract manufacturer doesn’t just enact one-time process improvements to reduce errors or increase efficiency. Rather, they focus on continuous improvements brought about by lean training and team development. These training sessions and incremental improvements translate into logistical simplicity and financial savings for your OEM company.

3. Closer Partnership

When your contract manufacturer’s team members are trained on the benefits of efficiency, communication and value, they respond better to the needs and desires of your OEM company. Lean training also places a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction, so employees are consistently looking to please both you and your end-user customers. By forming a closer partnership through lean training, your private label manufacturer becomes a seamless extension of your business, and not just a vendor to be managed.

4. Long-Term Quality Assurance

The lean manufacturing mindset keeps employees aiming for perfection when it comes to the quality of your products or equipment, and lean training ensures the improvement cycle never ends. As lean training progresses, it empowers employees to make more decisions regarding quality and long-term process improvements, all of which translate into greater cost savings. In the end, greater employee empowerment from lean training means better bottom-line growth for your OEM company.

While it’s easy to dismiss lean training as an insignificant aspect of picking out a contract manufacturer, it’s not a factor your OEM company should ignore. Rather, lean training should become one of your defining factors for finding a quality contract manufacturing partner – and you should fire any partner that doesn’t invest in your future through lean training.

Want to learn the secrets to more profitable lean manufacturing practices? Call me, Craig Zoberis, at 630-948-4879 or click below to download this whitepaper from Fusion OEM and learn how to harness the 80/20 rule for more effective and profitable lean manufacturing – whether in your own facility or when working with a contract manufacturer.

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