The Debate about China’s Production Quality

Blog | by Norman Kay | 08.05.2015


The term ‘0ff-shore Manufacturing’ has become a non-sequitur.
Just as the reference to Global enterprise, global anything is stereotyped. Given quantum real time communications, technological applications, and fast-first move; this planet has morphed into a sprawling neighborhood.

We have gone from Magellan to the Concorde to across-the-pond to Nano –  lickety split!
I would point to the USA and Western European neighborhoods. We surely manufacture only a fraction of our past output. No longer a trend, this has become a slide – a slippery slope. The term off-shore is superfluous.

Made in China; Global Catch 22:

We have been manufacturing packaging and branded products overseas for our clients for 23 years, and have been schooled in the very odd coupling of expectation and reality.
I would suggest that we have an advanced degree in Culture Shock & Performance Expectation.
I would like to share a bit of that experience, and hopefully it’s useful.

What do you want?

You want a design and production acumen that will transform your ideas into physical reality. You want the quality that’s in your mind’s eye, and, naturally, you want a lean cost. And, you want it when you want it. I guess you want what you want.

Guess what?

There’s an even chance that you probably didn’t get what you wished, possibly aren’t receiving what you desire, and may not, perchance, get what you foresee going forward. ‘Want’ is often a verbal incongruity that collides with reality.

Performance anxiety:

Whether your program involves 12 color offset on a recyclable substrate, mirror polished wood, hand – blown glass, a diaphanous fragrance package, stainless steel chopsticks, leather balloons, or titanium keepsakes, you must make absolutely certain that your production partner is capable of providing the product within your quality, performance, and time framework.

As with every endeavor, your execution plan must be well established or disappointment will ensue. So why not forget about decorating the house, and begin concentrating on waterproofing the basement.
Don’t launch a project without contingency planning and predictable downtime for discontinuities; even holidays.

Discord frequently occurs with overseas manufacturers, often due to linguistic and cultural dissimilarities. However, most problems are usually traced to poor planning, insufficient engineering, a lack of pre-production analysis, or improperly specified QC standards at home from the onset. Often the product or package design is inadequate or imperfect, and the deficiency is blamed on the Asian manufacturer. Subsequent defects recognized during the production sequence are vexing, often calamitous. Furthermore, primary factories often outsource to smaller factories to save cost and accrete production time. This practice often sacrifices quality and can sabotage a program.

A best practice manufacturing blueprint is forged with longstanding relationships across ownerships that recognize and ingest the path to quality and performance. Furthermore, the manufacturing plan must emanate from your domestic packaging and product teams. Together with your overseas testing lab and your on-site QC assurance, you represent the bridge to reality. Regarding product engineering specifications, QC standards, and performance dates, the recommended procedure is to transmit the data in both dialects and collaboratively confirm specifications and processes.

QC and engineering guidance must be tailored specifically for each program and, frequently, milestone tracking requires continual factory observance.
Structural design, esthetic schemes and digital files should be prepared domestically, with factory prepress approvals off production equipment. Seamless on-press management serves as your redundant safety net.

Coming to your local neighborhood:It’s an economic reality that manufacturing migrates to low cost less economically evolved labor regions. In the past, innovation and invention have remained at home within commercially developed societies, but we have become increasingly aware of the imagination and neoteric ideas originating from these low cost manufacturing regions.

A nascent well educated middle class throughout Asia, hungry for new levels of success,  independence, and better paying careers, have spawned an entrepreneurial revolution. Incidentally, this is the emergent middle class that will eventually purchase all of the merchandise that we no longer produce.