Adrian and Renaud kick-off 2021 with Renaud's thoughts on how the coronavirus pandemic will continue to affect manufacturing this year and how things might change once vaccine use becomes more widespread, and then get into the main topic: How to validate a supplier's production capacity, especially if you're a buyer abroad who isn't able to travel to China (or elsewhere in Asia) to do this on-site yourself.
Given that a supplier over-promising on their capacity could land you in hot water when it comes to delivery delays, quality problems, and increased costs, understanding if they truly do have the capacity to handle your order quantities before placing orders is a must, and since there are still tight restrictions for travelling to different Asian countries, not least China, being able to do so from abroad is very relevant for many buyers right now.Show Notes
00:00 - Introduction
01:44 - Renaud talks about how the coronavirus pandemic may continue to affect buyers from China/Asia in 2021. How the vaccine rollout could improve things, certainly by 2022, and how in China the manufacturing industry continues to operate strongly for most verticals. Will the West start to perform better by Q2 of 2021?
07:54 - Why do we need to be able to validate a supplier's factory's production capacity before we start placing orders? When buying from a supplier you will fit into one of these 3 categories regarding your order quantity and their capacity:
14:24 - Why in East-Asian cultures, 'yes' doesn't always mean 'yes.' Suppliers agreeing to orders they know they can't handle easily has a cultural factor. Yes, may not mean yes directly, rather it may mean, "I hear you and I'm thinking about it." Also, Chinese salespeople, for example, don't want to disappoint foreign customers so are likely to overpromise rather than say no in some cases.
16:22 - If buyers are unable to visit Asian suppliers right now, how can we assess them from afar? Renaud shares a number of tips, such as using factory auditors, and about how to question them and the kinds of questions to ask (if possible over the phone and with someone at a managerial level), including:
24:35 - If it's possible to get truthful answers to the above questions that is good, but will many buyers get a better result by working with companies who are already on the ground in Asia and can perform due diligence and audits for them? Yes. If your main contact has no idea and their colleagues don't help answer them you may not have success with speaking on the phone, but it's easy to find companies like Sofeast who can go on-site perform due diligence on potential suppliers and validate a supplier's capacity.
26:14 - What actually impacts a supplier's capacity? It is a lot more than just the number of employees and machines that they have. Renaud suggests the following things have an effect on overall production capacity:
35:13 - Is the best way to get a handle on all of this conducting factory audits? A technical process audit is ideal in this situation, as it will look into the real processes being used on-site and the auditor, who is accustomed to the processes being used and familiar with the product type, will be able to assess the supplier's capacity, key risks, ability to reach your quality standard, and much, much more.
36:27 - Wrapping up. Tell us how you've coped with assessing suppliers' capacities from abroad throughout the pandemic.Related content to read next...
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