Small companies may need assistance ramping up to meet customers' changing demands. Outside technical providers may be able to provide a temporary boost to help you meet the challenge.
It's normal for customers to make product modifications - although it can create challenges for small suppliers trying to respond to such changes. You may need skilled assistance from technical experts you can't afford to keep on staff.
One example of contract support staff is a consulting materials engineer. The array of materials available to you is usually too vast to keep up with. A materials engineer has the ability to weigh cost, manufacturability and performance, and suggest alternatives you might not have thought of. If your customer has mandated a materials change, you can save time and money by bringing in an outside expert to help you adjust designs and processes.
Product safety engineers can help you avoid changing a feature or process that could harm workers or end-users down the value stream. A safety consultant with compliance expertise is a must if you are working in a regulated industry.
Die and mold engineers can evaluate necessary changes in your tooling. They can save you money in wasted material, defect correction and throughput time by suggesting slight changes in contour or finish. Since this is assistance you may be able to use on an ongoing basis, continue to benchmark your tooling supplier to find the one with the best engineering experience in addition to the ability to produce dies or molds to your specifications.
While large companies may have these specialists on staff, smaller companies can find consultants through the National Association of Manufacturers at www.nam.org or similar state associations. In addition, the National Institute of Standards and Technology tailors assistance to small manufacturers through its Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at www.nist.gov/mep.
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