Foreign entrepreneurs to tell: China hardware business how to work with

when hardware entrepreneur mind suddenly the idea of a product, how they want to choose the appropriate factory manufacture they cherished baby? Chinese factories have strength and worthy of trust? A product from a good idea to actually deliver goods need how long? Recently a foreign entrepreneurs and venture capital field the Chinese hardware production factory, let’s listen to how he said.

I have to admit, I decided this week to fly to southern China in the past and ecosystem of hardware production do their homework before, I don’t know anything about manufacturing. I don’t know how long the enterprise makes a hardware product need to spend how much time and money, if they want to do messed up what consequences. So I chat with several manufacturing experts sit down, or introduced by fully developed new consumer electronics products, or substantial roles, and I didn’t do anything, just ask them questions.

this is the most important thing I learned, but these things before and I can see almost all the runs counter to the plan of the hardware business: delivery of new products for 12 to 14 months budget is sensible, reasons are as follows:

if you are manufacturing parts of products have been sold in the market, such as solar battery charging board, but you use the new idea, and your products are not as with small flash USB memory sticks. So the following to talk about is your product all the steps needed for mass production.

before enumeration step, I’ll be the first to assume a prototype products used in the production of manufacturing (DFM). This hypothesis, by the way, shouldn’t be done by the investors, because not all makers or engineer knows how to design a perfect from the start to determine the prototype of the product. In fact, for the new product prototypes hypothesis is not an easy thing.

now, assume that your prototype almost is the stage of DFM, then what happens? Quick let’s have a peep at the factory production process of black box!

1. First of all, find manufacturing factory, send inquiry (RFQ). Assume that you have been looking for, and probably know what they want, and you may have several trust industry references to help, so this process will cost you 1 to 2 weeks.

2. Second, the site visit decided to choose which factory (for a small company in the phase of seeds hatch, you may only cooperate with a factory). Choose good after signed a cooperation contract. The phase and need 1-2 weeks.

3. The next phase of work, including factory drawing engineering drawings and should be done before the final production you finish all the other work. You must pay in advance, we call them one-time pay or non-refundable costs (NRE), because they are during the process of new product design, development and testing of one-time charges. This process will take 4 weeks.

4. Now, you have to do all the preparation, the factory can start to make the first batch of product or project inspection test (EVT). Usually, a group of test object have 5-10 pieces of products – most of them are hand made very rough blank piece – here only look at the product manufacturability, shape factor and the general quality of the product. Factory really understand your product specification? Where garage, laboratory and other products and you make the same? The production and testing it takes 4 to 6 weeks.

5. If you are satisfied with the test, then begin the ready to die. Most of the time your product need special mould and plastic materials, such as factory need to order steel, contact mold mold manufacturing company, the process fee have to pay in advance, because the material is often outsourcing, in addition to others you may not need it. Hope that you have already made our steel, because this is the moment you only have two weeks to mold. If you’re really ambitious, know exactly what you want, this kind of situation will sometimes appear in the second generation product manufacturing process, before you have successfully made the first generation of products), you can be in engineering stage to complete the mold at the same time. But we do not recommend a novice in these two stages at the same time. This phase takes four to six weeks.

6. Now when the design validation test samples, according to what you are doing the mold factory produce samples with machines, 20-50 each test. You should just stepped down from the production line of products strict test, ideally will take 1 to 2 months, but at least two weeks to complete. Different product testing process took an average of 4 to 6 weeks.

7. Most of the products many times before can improve the yield of the product need to this small batch test. At the beginning of this is because the product is probably not the way you imagine, especially when you are in the “stress test” under different conditions. This into the design refinement phase, the phase will be minor changes to the product rather than the big changes. You may have seen many times test, but optimistic to say that you only need to do a test is enough, because your product is not the super complicated, and you are very lucky to know these steps. This phase takes four to six weeks. At the same time, if your product is about the same, you can save some time on to obtain all kinds of documents, including the UL certification, CE certification, CSA certification or ETL certification, it depends on what you sell products and the flow of products. You also need a few testers “live”, that is not closely involved in the product details of the testing process, in order to find out the product significantly.

8. Finally, the pilot production or pre-production stage. Factory to begin production of your product, one over ten of the quantity is your order quantity, to ensure that the process run as smoothly as predicted. You can have a good rest at this stage, because to improve working efficiency and guarantee proper completion of the work flow are the factory. But, the final purpose is from the production line to produce a product already have user and can be delivered to them, so it is not nothing to do with you. The rest of the product will be used plant learned at this stage to improve efficiency and production management experience. It is great that, at this stage spend the least time, of course also depends on the quality of products. Made into a finished product takes about 1-2 weeks.

so, how long has in the past so far? If you’ve been in addition, as a relatively simple product of a production cycle need at least 6 months. How likely it is that six months delivery? It’s hard to say, but I’m afraid that most cases are unable to finish it on time, which is why only 16% of the top Kickstarter task to be delivered on time.

most of the team, especially in the first step into the world manufacturing center – China’s team, perhaps can only dream of having such a smooth manufacturing process. 4-6 weeks to add one or two product iterations and one or two months of testing, certification and packing time, from prototype design work to deliver a funny and manufacturability of new hardware products, easily occupied our 12-14 months.

this is for those who are immediately set out to work and immediately put into the supply chain, they have no workers went on strike, shortage of materials, holidays or inadequate capacity factory closures (don’t you think that all of the factory and your cooperation well-funded?) Wait for a problem. Even if in my time is not long in the two years of investment experience (of course also includes Kickstarter funding), and I know that seems to be plenty of time is always fleeting.

let’s face it, set up the hardware enterprise is not fun, investors and entrepreneurs also should try to know more about the potential pitfalls of this field. In this article, I introduced the basic schedule directly with the factory cooperation.

in the end, I gave those ambitious entrepreneurs a piece of advice: hardware, at least in the first 2 to 4 weeks for your chief technology officer or chief product engineer field visits to the spot, then at least once a month. Pilot production or pre-production stage, especially in the field becomes very important, because it can ensure the product development process have done really implement all improvement in factory production.

most Chinese entrepreneurs willing cooperation factory will put a table in the workshop, there will be a few English is good, so you don’t need to worry about no place to stay or communication problems. If you’re going to factory manufacturing products in China, so don’t hesitate, because there is no reason not to choose here.


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