A few decades ago, a company only really had two options if they wanted to make their own products. They could produce their stock on site, which is expensive, or they could outsource to a third party.
Outsourcing back then was tricky, and a business would have to have a close relationship with its manufacturer to make sure any production problems could be swiftly resolved. With custom manufacturing, a lot of these headaches disappear.
But what exactly is custom manufacturing and why is it so good? Are modern processes truly that innovative?
Find out this and more today. Keep reading to find out where some of the world’s best custom manufacturing happens.
What Is Custom Manufacturing?
Though there were initial issues with manufacturing when the first big industrial boom happened, many companies all over the world have found a good balance between producing their products internally and contracting their work to external businesses. This is especially helpful if you need custom-made parts or made-to-order products.
Ultimately, that’s what custom manufacturing is. It’s engineering, designing, and building products based on a set of unique specifications, which include:
- Built-to-order parts
- One-off runs
- Short production runs
- Mass customization
The people doing this are referred to as OEM companies or original equipment manufacturers. They’re most closely associated with the automotive and IT industries, but the true scope of OEM manufacturing is limitless.
Mass Production vs. Custom Manufacturing
While the concept of manufacturing typically summons images of massive factories, churning out the same parts over and over again, this is not what custom manufacturing is all about. This is mass production.
This involves using a lot of raw material to make a lot of items as quickly as possible. Custom manufacturing is more streamlined and is a far more effective method for producing fewer quantities of goods in a shorter amount of time. Custom manufacturing is distinguished not only by the number of raw materials used but also by the variety and uniqueness of these goods.
Mass production involves more time, materials, labor, and space, all of which exist on a bigger scale than custom manufacture.
The final distinction lies in the production line, which is a key component of mass production. In these situations, you can produce large quantities of items with little to no direct interaction from factory workers. This translates to an assembly line, where people can construct things without having to hold up the entire process if waiting for supplies or other components.
Custom manufacturing can certainly work similarly, but it employs fewer people and fewer machines and equipment. This is because the goal is to help clients build and create their goods in specifically tailored ways. Yes, the production is smaller, but it’s often more efficient.
Prototype and Production
Prototype and production are the two main divisions of custom manufacturing and they’re both important. Prototyping or “mock-up manufacturing” is an invaluable part of the process.
Prototyping is the act of testing, evaluating, or changing a part or component before using it in a final project. It could mean making a mock-up, or it could involve creating a simple model or sample. Custom manufacturing supports the use of prototypes in a big way since it can save both you and your company a lot of time and money.
For example, with items that have large or unusual designs, like aircraft wings, a custom mock-up can nip any potential issues in the bud.
The Production Process
Production or “serial production” manufacturing is the second type of bespoke manufacturing. This involves a business making a product in big quantities, typically for commercial use. They can still be custom-made, and often are, but the scale at which they’re made is bigger.
For example, car companies may use custom manufacturing to produce small quantities of parts for older vehicles, as opposed to the mass production line they would use at the start of a new car run.
The Best Benefits of Custom Manufacturing
Although mass production, and even in-house manufacturing, has its advantages, the benefits of custom manufacturing far exceed the capabilities of the other two methods. TAs a service, it’s exceptionally useful for accommodating material variations, changing design requirements, and unique finishing options.
For things that can’t be mass-produced, custom product manufacturing is the perfect answer. Here’s why.
When you’re commissioning bespoke products, there’s greater scope for customization. This also means that as a client, you’ll get your exact specifications fulfilled, which is great for you and your consumers. Plus, bespoke manufacturing raises the quality of an item.
This means you get exactly what you need without having to settle for the next closest thing on a mass-produced line-up.
Because an OEM manufacturer must produce precise and high-quality products, there is less wastage and fewer production failures. In this way, you’re not losing time in having to return or rework a design, which means greater productivity for your business. When you use prefabricated parts, there’s always the risk that they won’t fit or work.
Custom manufacturing breaks this cycle by fulfilling the requirements right off the bat. This is only helped through the use of prototyping, which can eliminate potential areas at the start of a project.
Custom manufacturing solutions are inherently more accurate than most conventional production processes. This is because there’s no waste, and each product is made identical to its companions, whether it be size, shape, or material.
You also get to work with a team of experts who know exactly what they’re doing and can deliver state-of-the-art products through exceptionally high-quality machining.
Lower Overall Unit Costs
Depending on the demands of your organization, custom manufacturing may actually be more cost-effective than mass production. When compared to items of a similar style and form, custom-made items are often between 50-75% cheaper. Though it may initially seem more expensive, because there is less waste, there is less expense.
Lower Lead Times
Because there are fewer processes required in creating a custom product, the design process is quicker and simpler. You won’t have to wait for any pre-made pieces or parts to arrive, which means shorter lead times and better manufacturing. There’s no more need to sit idly by while you wait for some part or another.
It all arrives at once because it’s all made at once, which is good for you, your business, and your clients.
Improved Quality Control
During the entire process, you’ll have the power to check in and monitor the progression of your work. This not only makes it super easy to identify any problems, but you’ll have the chance to rectify any defects or issues before they become significant flaws.
This is helpful if you’re manufacturing a high-end product that must adhere to a set of strict quality standards.
While there are limitations to mass production, custom manufacturing has more freedom. Unlike other forms of production, there are no restrictions on material or technology the manufacturer can use, as long as they have the knowledge and expertise to deliver.
This makes it possible to develop a greater variety of items, whether completely new or new and improved. This can significantly help in the development of “the next big thing” in the market.
When you give customers a chance to personalize or customize their goods, you’ll likely see a higher rate of retention, as well as a spike in sales. Why? Because where there is customization, there is more commitment.
People like feeling like they had a hand in the product they’re purchasing, which is why bespoke services often do so well, even if they’re sometimes more expensive.
Have you recently launched a new product or are you just starting your business? You can start small with custom manufacturing and rise through the ranks. We know it’s challenging to get started when you don’t have a massive lump sum to work with, which can make stocking and keeping inventory an issue.
With custom manufacturing, you get to choose the quantity of your order, and you’ll never be pushed to buy more than you need, as you may be with mass production. This means you have what you need when you need it, but you don’t need to worry about storing it all.
Plus, when you’re ready to expand, you’ll find custom manufacturing particularly advantageous. OEM manufacturers can handle larger orders than your regular in-house business. So if you’re getting new customers and growing, you don’t need to worry about searching for a new supplier.
Finding a Custom Manufacturer
It’s not always easy to identify a manufacturer who is fully equipped to meet all the needs of your project. And, chances are, you want to work with a firm that you can develop a long-standing relationship with. This means they need to deliver their products on time and according to your specifications, but there’s more to it than that.
You want to look at a few key points when choosing a manufacturer:
- How long have they been in business?
- Do they have testimonials?
- Is there website efficient and clear?
- Are they easy to communicate with?
- What does their logistical support look like?
When you work with a custom manufacturer, make sure you’re both setting and agreeing on clearly stated goals, so that everyone stays on course. This means asking for a detailed scope of the project, including success and failure factors.
Ask yourself whether your manufacturing partner offers the flexibility you need. This could apply to ongoing adjustments or changes at the start of the process. In customization, things tend to evolve and change more often than not.
This means your manufacturer needs to pivot and respond as needed! Have a conversation early on to make sure you’re both on the same page about what this looks like. However, in the spirit of partnership, it’s important to understand that they know what they’re talking about.
While it’s invaluable to have clear communication and vocalize your concerns, trust in their expertise.
What to Look For in a Quality Manufacturer
Typically, OEM manufacturing can be quite broad, and not all companies will suit your needs. Services can include anything from laser cutting to industrial stitching, so it’s important to ask yourself a few questions. When looking for a manufacturer, ask:
- What materials do they most commonly use?
- Are they transparent about their processes?
- Can they give an insight into their product development?
- How do they handle improvements and prototypes?
- Can they customize their processes?
- Do they work with you from start to finish?
When you can answer these, you’ll have a much clearer grasp of what the manufacturer can do, and in turn, what they can do for you.
The ideal partner should spend time with you to ensure that all the right quality control parts are in place, not just for standardization and safety, but to make sure what you’re getting is what you asked for.
That’s why it’s important to work with someone reputable and trustworthy.
Finding Your Competitive Edge
With the freedom of choice may come uncertainty and fear, but with the right custom manufacturing partner, these should be a thing of the past. Not only is it a breeze to outsource to us, but we’ll handle all the nitty-gritty details of your project.
The benefits of custom manufacturing can’t be ignored, and maybe it’s time for your business to make the switch from mass-production to bespoke, tailored goods? If that’s the case, get in touch with us today, and let’s see what we can make together.