We carried out a survey directed at people using manufacturing as a service. The objective was to see the manufacturing industry’s pain-points from a customer’s view.
We’ll take a look at the results and analyse the reasons behind them. Also, we summarise by bringing out how Fractory, as a manufacturing service provider, combats these issues.
The Burning Issues with Manufacturing
We used a poll instead of an open question to get more engagement. Based on our previous research and industry insights, the options were as follows:
- Lousy customer support
- Long quoting times
- Finding quality manufacturers
- Long lead times
Inadequate Customer Support
This answer gained 21% of the votes.
Inadequate support has 2 sides. Firstly, it is very important to get insightful feedback on large orders. Minimal changes in production methods can lead to huge differences in total costs. Knowledgeable sales engineers can be of great help to customers.
The other side is clients with small orders. Their queries often get neglected in an industry tailored for big money orders. A few people who have ended up as our clients have been on the verge of giving up on their production idea for that reason alone.
Long Quoting Times
17% of people picked this as the most pressing issue.
Quoting is somewhat related to customer support. Sales engineers who are busy with ongoing work tend to leave new requests for quotes unnoticed.
At the same time, a more underlying problem here may lay with the methods used for giving out quotes. A lot of the calculations are still done on Excel spreadsheets.
Although a well-tested and reliable method, it takes a lot of time. With customers trying out new suppliers with small orders, the ROI on the allocated time is unknown. So sometimes those things are put on the back burner, resulting in days waiting for a reply.
Finding Quality Manufacturers
Of all the people voting, 19% chose this option.
There are plenty of companies providing manufacturing services on a huge market. However, it may prove difficult to find one with the right expertise for a specific job. Laser cutting aluminium, bending Hardox plates, ensuring flatness, etc. all require certain know-how.
Admittedly, some mistakes are bound to happen with lots of work coming in. It’s just a matter of minimising it. Another challenge here is finding skilled labour. A lot of the final quality depends on the machine operators. But how can you pinpoint companies that already have those people?
Usually, it’s either through trial and error or good peer reviews. And when you finally find someone capable enough, you’ll stick with him.
Long Lead Times
It was the most popular answer, with 43% of votes coming this way.
Lead times are closely related to the last point. Once you find someone to trust, you’ll forward most of your queries in the same direction.
Thus, long queues form at some doors. This often stretches lead times above 2 weeks from confirming the order to actual delivery.
While doing industry research, we found out that manufacturing machinery sits idle for over 50% of the time. With this in mind, we can say that such lead times are pretty much unnecessary.
Unfortunately, many companies in the industry may possess great technological capabilities and knowledge, but little marketing nous and are therefore difficult to find.
Solution to Manufacturing Troubles
When it comes to customer support, we acknowledge the power it has. We have been hard at work trying to identify people who have the required skill-set to help you with valuable advice.
Long quoting times are an issue Fractory has resolved. Our proprietary algorithms give automated quotes for cutting and bending jobs based on STP models or DXF drawings. The prices are final and orders are sent to production right after confirmation from the client. There’s no difference if you’re looking to produce 1 part or making a big order, the cloud manufacturing platform doesn’t discriminate.
Finding quality sub-contractors is an issue we are well aware of. Fractory has a large network of manufacturing partners who are all pre-vetted. Admittedly, we have to turn down a considerable amount of suppliers because of lacklustre efforts towards providing a good service. Therefore, we have done the sifting part for you. We know where each supplier’s expertise lays at.
When going through the list of potential suppliers, lead times are an important factor we consider. As we take full responsibility for service, we have gone to great lengths in order to find suppliers who combine quality with short lead times. We are aware of their availability and only forward work to ones who have the capacity at hand at a given moment.