The NPI process is one of the most important parts of contract manufacturing. This is especially true for contract manufacturers responsible for the creation of electronic products and components.
It’s important to ask about NPI processes when choosing a CM to work with. The company you choose should have robust processes in place. They should take care to ensure every product is introduced into their manufacturing operation in a tightly controlled manner.
Contract manufacturers often have several different projects going at once. It’s important that the CM you work with has a way to alert the engineering team of new builds. Ideally, the engineering team should receive a report detailing the customer name, batch quantity, part number, work order number, customer request date, order acknowledgement date, and the name of the customer’s account manager. Once the engineering team has the report, they can create an NPI number for the order.
While it’s not uncommon for additional data to come after the original request for quote, this can lead to problems with production. Before beginning any work on the project, the engineering team must first verify that they have all data and equipment needed to complete the first build.
Prior to production, the CM must determine how many products to produce. While it can be tempting to run the entire batch quantity on the first run, this is never a good idea. Running a smaller quantity allows CMs to catch potential problems with the product prior to volume manufacturing. This can save a considerable amount of time and effort in the future.
It’s important that the NPI engineer oversees all parts of production including testing. The notes they keep throughout this process can be used to improve the quality of the next batch.
It’s important to note that the NPI process shouldn’t be limited to brand new products. It should also apply to products that are essentially new to the CM, meaning they’ve never worked on them before.
Means Engineering, Inc. provides a variety of contract manufacturing services. Our team works directly with you throughout the NPI process. Please contact us for more information about our comprehensive services.