Many buyers are struggling to visit suppliers or their own factories in China or South East Asia due to the coronavirus pandemic. This can cause a lot of problems, as the inability to monitor production first-hand can lead to cost overruns, delays, and quality issues, not to mention a lack of compliance and improvement.
Here are a number of negative consequences that a lack of production follow up can cause buyers:
- You have no idea about the level of compliance with established procedures
- No understanding of the current risk level (quality, delays, cost, …)
- Local staff has little pressure to drive improvements
- The know-how is not documented and is lost when a key resource leaves
- There is no systematic approach to focus on the most important problems and prevent recurrence
To put this into perspective, here’s a common scenario demonstrating the above that we regularly see in factories here in China and can help solve:
Image Source: Stop Fighting Fires, in HBR
So, if you can’t visit a supplier in, say, China, how to avoid these negatives? The Sofeast team steps in to handle your development and production follow up on your behalf.
Sofeast’s team works as your proxy on the ground at your supplier’s factory (or your own) to follow up on different areas of production specific to your needs. For example, if you need us to keep the pressure on factory management in order to control quality and spur improvement, we can prioritize this.
Our team is composed of different profiles that, together, help fulfill your needs in these areas:
- Quality systems (health check, implementation, auditing)
- Manufacturing processes (risk analysis, efficiency analysis, assistance in new process setup, the suggestion of better process controls, documentation in a control plan)
- Improvement follow up based on to-do lists and regular meetings
Our team has expertise in the following areas and can follow up on them for you to suit your project and requirements. This will be agreed at the start of your project with us and can be adjusted as and when needed.
We don’t just passively report facts to you, either. Our team also includes experienced engineers, project managers, and inspectors who suggest positive changes to your supplier or factory in order to get them back on track where needed.
# New product developments
- Follow up on tool making, trials, and signoff of first samples
- Support from our office-based mechanical and electronic engineers
- Plan of new manufacturing layout & processes
- Process flow chart, operator work instructions
# Reducing risks in your manufacturing process
- Risk analysis (process FMEA) and suggestions for improvements
- Evaluation of current process controls and suggestions
- Equipment maintenance: moving toward a preventive plan
- Quality inspections (IPQ, FAI, IPQC, OQC) reviews & improvement
# Upgrading of the current team’s skills
- Setup of new systems & processes with them
- On-the-job training & coaching on important concepts (e.g. line balancing)
- Explanation & illustrations of the customers’ standards
- Documentation of the improvements, so people don’t forget
# Keeping pressure on factory management
Any buyer who wants to keep control of their overseas production in China and SE Asia and who is having trouble monitoring results and driving meaningful change.
We will develop a program that addresses your needs and then typically send 1 or 2 people on-site on fixed days each week. The initial period might be more time-intensive.
We usually conduct such programs in South China (usually in the Shenzhen/Dongguan area), but flexibility on location is possible depending on the project or your requirements.
Your English-speaking project manager sends you emails about progress and difficulties (if any) on a regular basis. They are also available by phone when needed.
You will also find sample evaluation and comparison helpful in order to assure that the samples you’re getting from a potential supplier or from pre-production with your current supplier reach your expectations and you can proceed without the fear of damaging issues with your production batches later on.
How much does development and production follow up cost?
This is usually a program that takes place over several months. We will make an offer depending on your exact needs. Price from 300 USD a day.