Assembly lines began back in the 19th century in meatpacking factories. The famous Henry Ford used this idea as a solution to produce his widely known automobiles. Ford realized the benefits of a product assembly line as it decreased his costs dramatically, to both his own products and those of Ford customers.
As the demand for eCommerce grows, more companies are selling their products online. These products are being sold and then shipped from an external warehouse where products are assembled in massive quantities.
Keep reading to learn more about the process of product assembly, its benefits and challenges, and how China has become the greatest manufacturing superpower.
What Is Product Assembly?
Product assembly is the process of creating products in sequential steps. Each step has its own materials to put together in specific ways. All leading up to the final product.
This process was originally set up like a regular assembly line. It involves a number of workers standing in a line of some sort by a specific machine or piece of equipment. In some cases, they are sitting at a workbench with their own set of materials and tools.
Product Assembly Methods
You may recognize the classic assembly line as a large industrial-type room filled with different work stations or product lines. The workers are either sewing clothing, piecing together a television, and others.
The process of product assembly boosted the production of goods and manufacturing. This massively increased efficiency and decreased the amount of time it took to produce large quantities of products.
The higher the quality and the greater the availability of technology in modern times, the greater the need for a smooth process for businesses. There is also the perfecting of operations and mass manufacturing of products.
These manufacturing plants and warehouses involve a lot of detailed operations, management, and technicians to ensure the regular flow of systems. It becomes an entire business operation in itself and requires proper function.
The classic assembly lines using factory workers are still very much in place. However, switching to using large factories with heavy machinery has become more popular for big players in the field.
Through automated processes, different machines or large pieces of equipment are used to put a product together piece by piece at different stages. This was done to create an end product with great speed and efficiency.
Which Product Assembly Method Do I Need?
Depending on your product, the method of product assembly will differ. For example, there will be no need for something like weld assembly if your product is clothing. Ask yourself, is it large and complex needing automated product assembly or can it be done with a classic assembly line?
Also, is your product one that is shipped out fully assembled, or is it completed elsewhere? This refers to things like furniture that’s shipped to a storefront in pieces versus an automobile that you don’t expect a customer to complete themselves.
With product assembly, millions of products and goods are shipped across the globe daily. It has provided hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of factory jobs.
Assembly lines have grown to include large factories across the world, with the most manufacturing being done in China.
Product Assembly in China
China has perfected the product assembly line through decades of practice. They are trusted as the top manufacturing nation in the world for many reasons.
There is no requirement to employ highly-skilled workers. Unless it’s an engineered product, factories can usually hire many more people at low costs. It’s great for the plant as more workers means more hires and increased productivity and goods production.
China has also optimized on factories or manufacturing plants being concentrated to one industry. What this means is that textiles will be produced in one area and electronic parts in another. These are generally referred to as production clusters.
This process results in streamlined manufacturing for more goods in one place. It has really put China above the rest of the world when it comes to production.
What You Need to Know When Choosing to Produce in China
The most important thing to consider is to figure out what type of assembly is required based on your product. Are you looking to manufacture textiles? Is there a need for engineers in your assembly line, or do the steps require low capacity?
The process of the product assembly itself depends on the operations of the plant. This can also involve what type of product you have and which method of assembly you choose.
Is it line assembly where workers are assigned to each step in the process, whether it be quality testing at the end or checking for issues from the start? Your warehouse might have an inspection line in itself.
It’s important to think about production times. Take into consideration the product, type of assembly, and how these two can affect each other.
Of course, for businesses, there is a lot of legal paperwork involved in selecting a product manufacturing plant in China. Additionally, agreements need to be made before any production begins and plans are finalized.
To ensure you choose the best option for you, be sure to research different manufacturing warehouses in China. Research can be done through looking through all their social media (if available). This will give you a sense of their following and their level of popularity in the community.
Another great way to do research would be by looking up company reviews. Do they have a lot of happy customers? Do they have long-lasting business relationships or testimonies? You can also research any news about the company.
Tour the Space
As a business owner about to invest in a manufacturing plant, there are structural and operational things to look out for too. Check the condition of their warehouse in terms of cleanliness, safety protocols, and more. Look at the size of the space and check out the quality. Given the current travel restrictions in China, it is unrealistic for many businesses oversea to physically pay a visit. Hire a qualified 3rd-party QC agent to perform factory audits for you.
If you notice some equipment is broken or sitting unattended ask questions. Be prepared to ask about how they operate. Do they only hire skilled workers, or are they open to having different skill levels of staff? Remember this might not be as important depending on your product.
Have a Trusted Source
Contracts should be laid out with every detail included to cover any possible scenario that could halt production such as delays. There need to be planned solutions for issues with unmet timelines or quality expectations.
Meet with your manufacturers before you make a choice. If you can, visit the warehouse or plant location to have a look for yourself. If not, you should have a liaison in China who can do this for you. A trusted resource to communicate issues and updates to you is beneficial.
The Benefits of Product Assembly in China
Over time, the quality of outsourced production has increased with more and more North American companies using warehouses in China for several reasons.
Production in China has much lower costs for higher reward. The cost of labor is lower so more employees can be hired. The production level is massive so products can be ready quicker resulting in more purchases.
There is no need to track down a manufacturing plant because they are so readily available in China. They are usually already operating for other companies as well. This removes the need for a business to build one themselves, which would require hiring your own staff and paying for your own space.
Choosing a China assembly service for manufacturing jumpstarts the process of product production. This means a quicker start to making revenue.
The Challenges of Product Assembly in China
With the efficiency and ready-to-go structure of a manufacturing space in China, there are some challenges.
There will be a need to have someone on your team to oversee general factory setbacks that may occur. Because you aren’t able to just drive over in an emergency, it would be good to have a contact who lives in that country. This could be the owner of the plant itself.
Communication is Key
It’s important to keep communication smooth, open, and at a steady pace. There could be things lost in translation or miscommunications that can cause very big problems. Imagine asking to change a part in assembly and it happens to be the wrong one?
Also related to communication, there could be massive time differences between your country and China. This can make it difficult to have regular communication. It could make it tough to have a good relationship with the manufacturer.
Depending on where you reside, China is across the world and in an entirely different country. This can make you feel very disconnected by the inability to be on-site regularly.
Ensuring your supplier of parts and materials are also openly communicating is crucial. This refers to communicating with the business owner and with the manufacturing plant. Issues can arise if parts aren’t being sent on time or are incorrect or missing.
Remember that some companies can be committing fraud. Keep an eye out for fake websites, no contact information, no reviews, or a location. There have been cases of companies accepting deposits or a related hold and backing out without contact.
In terms of shipping times, they will increase dramatically when your products are being outsourced from China. Standard shipping can take up to two weeks.
Take into consideration that production is so vast in China that it sometimes negatively affects the environment. The levels of air pollution from factories has only increased over the last few decades. But efforts have also been made to improve the air quality and the improvement is significant as well.
There is also the challenge of a lack of resources from the massive production in China. The availability of resources and materials in China to produce goods across these warehouses has dwindled.
In 2018, President Trump also enacted an increase in taxes on imports from China. This caused a riff in the relationship between production in China from US-based companies. Some actually moved their production out of China as a result.
The Future of Product Assembly in China
China has plans in place to continue holding its spot as the largest production superpower in the world for many years to come. With the growth of intelligent technologies and a never-ending need for low-cost manufacturing, this seems very likely.
There has even been discussion around using data from manufacturing plants to understand customer product needs. This can increase happy customers and thus potential revenue for businesses worldwide.
Contract manufacturing in China is on the rise. Think about how many products you buy that are ‘made in China.’ It’s no surprise that companies outsource their business in this country. The benefits certainly outweigh the cons outlined in this article.
Get a Consultation
Based in the UK, Shield Works has 16 years of experience outsourcing product development in China and product assembly on-site, fostering long-term relationships with their clients.
Its founders and leaders are experts in the field of manufacturing with direct connections and communication with China as partners of their business sphere. They have worked to assist both large and small businesses through the process of finding the best manufacturing facilities in China, while also supporting manufacturing in-house.
If you are interested in product assembly services in China, connect with our professionals in the product assembly and product manufacturing field for assistance. If you are manufacturing in-house and looking for a new space, we can help with that too.