Many first-time entrepreneurs focus their attention on online business opportunities. It’s a practical approach because many online businesses have a low financial bar for entry. If you can afford a website, you can get started.
What about when you have an idea for a new product, though? That’s a different beast that intersects with the manufacturing industry. If you don’t have any first-hand experience in manufacturing, the manufacturing process may seem mysterious.
If you’re curious about how your idea will go from the drawing board to store shelves, keep reading. We’ll walk you through what the manufacturing process actually looks like in practice.
The first major step for the manufacturer is an evaluation of your plans for the product. They’ll consider your diagrams and materials, make sure large-scale production is feasible on paper, and calculate a per-unit cost estimate. If you approve of the estimate, they’ll move on to the next phase.
Product Development Phase
In the development phase, the manufacturer takes active steps toward creating a physical version of your product. For example, they may make custom molds and dies based on your product plans. In rare cases, they may acquire new machinery for the project.
Once they have the molds, dies, or additional machinery, the manufacturer will produce initial prototypes for evaluation. You’ll get some for product testing and maybe focus group testing. You may go through several rounds of this before you settle on an acceptable version.
Once the product meets your requirements, the manufacturer will move on to commercial prototyping. That is mostly an in-house process for figuring out how to optimize the layout of the production line for efficiency. Although, you will typically get more prototypes to ensure the quality doesn’t fall off.
In the next phase, you finally move on to large-scale production. With the prototyping finished, you can finally start taking orders from actual customers.
You pass these orders on to the manufacturer, and they start making enough units to fill those orders.
Quality Control and Shipping
The last parts of the manufacturing process are typically quality control and shipping. Quality control takes a look at a small percentage of the units from each batch to ensure the product and packaging meet requirements. For more information, you can read this.
If everything passes quality control, the units get boxed up and shipped to your warehouse or retail partners.
The Manufacturing Process and You
Getting the manufacturing process up and running can take a while, so you shouldn’t expect a fast time to market. It can take from 6 months to a year to get fairly basic consumer products into large-scale production. It can take even longer for bigger, more complex products.
You’ll spend the most time on the product development and prototyping phases because there is a lot of back and forth with the manufacturer.
Looking for more tips about taking a product to market or selling the product more effectively? Check out the posts over in our Business section.