Your product is your brand’s baby. Whatever your company does internally, the only thing that the majority of customers will ever know about you is the product that they hold in their hands.
That’s why quality matters. It matters to your customers and it matters to you.
When you’re ready to bring your product to market, it’s vital to get to know the manufacturer that will be producing your product or a part for your final product.
You can think of your custom urethane manufacturer like the doctor that will deliver your baby. They’re going to be responsible for helping you produce something very important for your business.
You need to feel confident about your manufacturer’s capabilities and your relationship with them. The only way to get that confidence is by discussing your project and their processes thoroughly before signing a contract.
Don’t make the decision of who manufactures your product lightly. We’ve put together a list of questions that you might want to ask potential urethane manufacturers before signing the contract.
What Equipment Do You Use?
Even if you’re not an expert in cast urethane molding, your manufacturer should be. Send them the specifications for your part and talk over the details.
They should be able to make recommendations about the manufacturing process like what kind of equipment will be needed and how best your prototype should be created.
If your end product is also urethane, will the mass production look different or require different machinery than the prototypes? These are a few considerations and questions that a trustworthy manufacturer will be able to address with ease.
If not, that’s a red flag to keep looking.
Where Will the Parts Be Manufactured?
Good parts depend on good equipment and skilled workers. Ask potential manufacturers some questions about their plant. How big is it? How often are tools and equipment updated?
Ask if they cover the entire manufacturing process in-house or if they outsource some steps.
Don’t forget to ask about how the volume of your order will affect their business. Will your order be large or small for them? It’s important to understand how your order can fit in with their other orders as you should assume you aren’t their only client.
What Kind of Turnaround Time Can I Expect?
The turnaround for your order depends on a number of factors. Some of these include:
- What kind of equipment is being used
- Number of staff present
- Experience of the company
- Size and complexity of your order
A reliable manufacturer will have enough experience to estimate the time it will take to fulfill your order, and let you know of any risks that could disrupt the projected timeline. Be sure that this timeframe is included in your quote before you sign with a urethane manufacturer.
If the turnaround time isn’t quoted, or if you don’t feel confident in what they’ve quoted, ask some more questions. The manufacturer should be able to explain how long different processes will take and where things could take longer than expected based on past experience.
By the way:
If you have important deadlines, this is an important time to bring them up and find out if they can be met realistically and what kind of guarantees the manufacturer can provide.
How Experienced is Your Company?
Throughout the conversation with a potential urethane manufacturer, you should get the feeling that the representative you’re speaking with actually knows what they are doing and feels confident about completing the order to your needs.
If you aren’t certain, ask for some extra background information. Such as:
- How long has the company been in business?
- What kind of orders has the manufacturer completed before?
- Have they provided parts for any reputable brands?
- How often have they completed projects similar to yours in the past?
- What potential problems could be encountered and how will the manufacturer look out for your needs if they encounter a problem with your order?
Beyond being technically capable, make sure that they’re professional. Are your calls and emails returned in a timely manner? You should feel that the company is interested in earning your business and your respect.
If they have the technical capacity but aren’t diligent on the business side of things, you could end up with a product that isn’t made to your specifications, is delivered late, or any number of other problems that affect your bottom line.
Do You Create Custom Castings?
It’s important to make sure that the manufacturer you’re working with is flexible enough with their molds and formulations to accommodate your product. Your product or part is unique to your application and you need a manufacturer that is prepared to work with you to get it right.
Ask about their design process and material selection. Are they ready to adapt their processes to get hardness, flexibility, and colors right? What do they have readily available in their stock?
What if Materials for My Order Are Late?
Your project could use parts or materials that the manufacturer will provide but doesn’t keep in stock. What will happen if something they order arrives late, or there is some other delay?
Find out if the manufacturer provides a discount for orders that are late or reimburses costs for ordering from another company if they are unable to complete your order in time. Make sure they have a plan for these types of scenarios and are comfortable explaining it.
These experiences shouldn’t be the norm it is important to work with a urethane manufacturer that is organized and has a plan for a variety of unfortunate situations.
What Is Included in My Quote?
This might sound obvious, but you want to make sure that you know at the beginning of your contract everything that will be charged at the end.
Does the quote include all final costs or just materials and labor? Will there be additional fees charged for delivery, fuel surcharges or returns? Are there any other fees that might arise during or after the manufacturing process?
To ensure the project remains within your projected budget, understand the quote and everything that was included.
Manufacturing your product is a major process with major costs. Your urethane manufacturer is your manufacturing partner in the process, through good or bad. Think of the search for a manufacturer like a search for that doctor to deliver your baby. You want to find someone experienced that you can trust not to let you down.
Take some time to make a list of questions for potential urethane manufacturers. Think over your product and any special requirements you may have. Consider worst-case scenarios and how you would like your manufacturer to respond.
We hope that this article has given you a good starting point and gotten you thinking about other questions you might have.