Production: Setting up the production line and finding a manufacturer
It pays to do some research before you set up your production line; don’t just adopt the first factory you find. If the factory has experience with similar products, they can probably advise on optimizing throughput and distribution for your products. Trade shows are a good place to start looking for the ideal manufacturer, since you can meet face-to-face to establish their suitability.
Manufacturing an IoT product happens in many stages, including:
- Bill of Materials (BOM) management.
- PCB fabrication.
- Component assembly.
- Electronics testing.
- Product assembly.
You can choose one factory to address all of these. You can also source from multiple vendors, but you will need to negotiate whether they work together, who manages timescales for deliveries, and so on.
Engage with a factory during the prototyping stage; it has gone through this process many times and knows the optimizations that scaled production requires. It can provide practical advice on your product's manufacturability, as well as limitations and component suggestions. For example, does every component need to be the gold standard with minimum tolerance, or would one of their generic components be adequate?
Finding a local manufacturer is very helpful. They're in the same time zone, and you can more easily visit to monitor the situation. Don't just assume you need to go to a lower cost location for manufacturing until you've done the research. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much you can save through automation. Some manufacturers set up production locally, then transfer it to a lower cost location at a later stage. That means you can iron out any issues before they appear in a factory on the other side of the planet.