If you are in the engineering or product design world then you likely have some experience in qualifying manufacturing suppliers. You get a quote, you visit the factory, review their QA procedures, the part sample quality, check their service capabilities, check references and testimonials…all the normal things one would do when you qualify a supplier anywhere in the world.
But what about China suppliers? You have your quote, you love it and are ready to place the order, but you are a newbie to China so what else should you be doing to ensure your chosen China supplier is a good fit for you?
Tip 1 – Location, Location, Location
Air Travel – Is your supplier located near an international airport? Is there more than one international airport nearby to choose from? Just about all business travelers can give a nightmare example of needing to quickly get home but instead they are stuck in a foreign country because of the location of their supplier.
Visa Entry – It may seem like a small point but having a supplier located near an entry point into China where you can get a Visa on arrival can come in very handy at times. Sometimes you have to fly out quick to check on your supplier, depending where you live you may not be able to obtain a China Visa before your flight leaves. This is where Visa on arrival can come in very handy.
Travel From Airport – Do you have to get a connecting flight to another regional airport? Do you have to take a train, bus or taxi? Sometimes you might have to do all of the above if your supplier is not located in a China manufacturing hub like Shenzhen. A supplier in an isolated location can add a full day of travel time or more.
Transportation/Shipping – What are the roads like near your chosen supplier for transporting your goods? What shipping port is nearby? How does winter affect the roads and ports near your chosen supplier? Does your supplier have suitable access to other suppliers for raw materials needed for mass production? The list can go on and on, each problem presenting you with additional costs.
Accommodations/Restaurants – What hotel and restaurant options are available near your chosen supplier? Depending where you are in China a 3 star might work…but normally you will need 4 or 5 star options. Chinese food is excellent and the variety is superb, but some people can only handle western food options. For a quick trip we can all sacrifice and survive but for extended stays accommodations and food can be a real headache for some.
Internet Access – Business is conducted online these days and we take reliable internet access for granted. In many parts of China internet is not a problem, but it can be an issue outside of the major manufacturing hubs. $50 roaming fee because you had to get two emails out, been there.
Supplier Dependency – If your chosen supplier is in an isolated part of China you are likely completely dependent on them for local transportation and anything in their community. This can be a major problem if conflicts arise. How do you move a tool when you are 500 miles from nowhere and at odds with your supplier? How do you visit and qualify other potential suppliers if you are isolated? How do you solve any problems that arise if your geographically challenged supplier cannot solve them for you?
R & R – If you are doing business in China it likely means long days for you. If your supplier is isolated it can be even worse. But, if you are in a city like Shenzhen there are a lot of day trips to be had in Guangzhou, Hong Kong or Shenzhen where you can take in some sites and recharge your batteries. It can’t be all work, all the time. Try to enjoy what China has to offer outside of the factory life.
These are just a few of the location factors that can add hidden costs to your per unit manufacturing price, increase your manufacturing time lines and dramatically increase your travel costs. Price is a big factor in driving decision making, just make sure you factor in the true cost of your suppliers location before you commit.
At HLH, we make things for you. – FreeQuote@HLHPrototypes.com
HLH Prototypes – ProtoTool – Production | Shenzhen, China