Low-volume manufacturing as a way forward
February 27, 2019
I honestly can’t remember all the times I have used low-volume manufacturing to bring products to the market. Why? Because I have used low-volume manufacturing in one form or another for the majority of the projects that I have successfully brought to the market.
Obviously the goal for the best ROI is high-volume manufacturing. Those big orders that pay for every single aspect of your product development process. Those big orders that keep coming again and again after all your initial product development costs are long paid off. That is the goal and that is what all product developers want. That hit product in automotive, or smartphones, or baby products, or golf products, whatever your industry is, that hit product that is ordered over and over, this is your goal.
What my experience has taught me is that even though this is the goal don’t ignore smaller orders that can bring you positive revenue. These early low-volume manufacturing orders are often the path needed to get to the golden high-volume orders.
Here are two example of how low-volume manufacturing was a path to success for past product development projects I have worked on.
1. Multi-bit Screwdriver – before we had big orders we had many small orders that helped us work out manufacturing issues and product feature issues. We were still able to make profit off these low-volume orders and the experienced we gained from early production runs helped ensure our eventual high-volume production runs ran virtually problem free.
2. Powertool Add-On – before we won national TV campaigns it was our low-volume manufacturing runs that helped us pay for the bulk of our product development costs. This product offered a high profit margin when selling direct to the end customer. The TV campaign was huge from a manufacturing and product placement stand point but we could not wait or rely on this option. When there is an opportunity to make early profit, take it.
Now, it is important to note that both of these injection molding (primary expense) projects are about 10 years old and rapid low-volume manufacturing was not really a thing like it is today. In the past 10 years rapid low-volume manufacturing specialists, like HLH 🙂 , have emerged as partners who can help bring any part or product to the market much easier with their specialized focus on speed and low-volume manufacturing.
I firmly believe that with a good product development plan, with multiple parallel product launch options build into it, that low-volume manufacturing can work and be profitable for the majority of projects in development at any given time. It is a way forward.