Industries of all sorts have been impacted, some more than others, by the dawn of the digital age. The publishing and entertainment sectors were essentially turned on their heads and forced to develop entirely new business models. Even the retail and healthcare industries have faced enormous pressure to change in ways that better support the way people live today. The business of manufacturing is not immune to this new reality. Although change has been slow, the evolution has begun.
New manufacturing companies are starting to change how we can think about getting products produced and into the hands of customers. Here are some of the ways they contrast with the traditional approach.
Old way: Most manufacturing was performed overseas, adding a level of cost and complexity to the process.
New way: Products are manufactured onshore, simplifying, speeding and reducing the cost of getting things made.
Old way:Quotes were delivered over email or fax, sometimes taking days or weeks to be completed.
New way: Instant online quotes give hardware developers the information they need to begin their project in real-time.
Old way: Prototyping, especially for PCBs was difficult and expensive. Many manufacturers didn’t accept prototyping orders at all.
New way: Modern manufacturing companies welcome prototyping orders and will help customers iterate. Sophisticated software makes it possible to keep the costs of prototyping down.
Old way: Sourcing parts and negotiating with suppliers was in the hands of the product developer.
New way: Your manufacturing partner handles most sourcing seamlessly for you, using the leverage of their entire customer base to keep prices low and pass those savings along.
Old way: Producers were responsible for inventory storage and management, along with the costs of shipping to their warehouse location.
New way: The most popular of today’s cloud manufacturers will store and manage your inventory for you. Some even provide integrated fulfillment services so that you can put your product in the hands of your customer without ever lifting a finger.
Old way: Improvement in manufacturing focused on productivity and cost control.
New way: The best manufacturing companies today are focused on taking as much friction out of the process for developers as possible. They want to be drop-dead easy to work with and to build a partnership that helps inventions come to life and businesses to grow.
It is hard for industries to change, but not impossible and certainly necessary. Manufacturing companies will continue to become more aligned with the needs of today’s new crop of inventors. And that’s a great thing.