Top Questions to Ask When Choosing a Contract Manufacturer

Posted by Dave DeBord - 11 July, 2019

Royal Chemical highly recommends that you meet with at minimum three different contract manufacturers before selecting a partner. Once you determine your list of potential partners, schedule a time to meet with each company to ask questions to determine which would be the best fit for your needs. 

These are the top questions to ask to find the perfect chemical contract manufacturing partner:

  1. What are the businesses processing and analytical capabilities?
  2. Does the manufacturer have the required certifications and registrations in place to manufacture products for your intended market?
  3. What experience does the business have manufacturing your types of products?
  4. Is the businesses quality system ISO certified?
  5. How does the business demonstrate financial stability?
  6. What are the packaging options available to clients?
  7. Does the business offer warehousing, fulfillment and logistical services?
  8. What is the businesses production capacity?
  9. What is the businesses track record with on-time delivery?
  10. Does the business have a structured EHS Program?
  11. How does the manufacturer manage business processes?
  12. What does the client on boarding process look like? 
  13. How will the business protect your Intellectual Property?


It is important to understand the reputation that the business has in the industry. Be sure to inquire about what type of experience the company has including, but not limited to, years in business, notable clients/work and leadership team experience. 

Where are the business facilities located?

When choosing a contract manufacturer it is important to select one that has facilities close to your desired shipping destination to minimize logistics expense and delivery time. It is ideal to select a manufacturer with multiple locations that can support various geographical areas to support expansion while providing redundancy for disaster planning.  

 

What are the businesses processing and analytical capabilities?

It is important to be confident that the contract manufacturer you select has appropriate processing, material storage and laboratory equipment to satisfy your production requirements. It is key for the manufacturer to have a broad range of processing capabilities so that if additional project arise in the future, they can be fulfilled by the same manufacturer. 

Does the manufacturer have the required certifications and registrations in place to manufacture products for your intended market? 

Before selecting a partner it is crucial that the business has the certifications your project requires. If the partner does not have the required certifications, can they obtain them in a timely manner to meet your project needs? The partner should also be able to accommodate any requirements your project may need. Common requirements include EPA, FDA, Kosher, Halal, NSF, cGMP and OMRI. 

What experience does the business have manufacturing your types of products?

When choosing a contract manufacturing partner it is important to inquire about what projects the business has worked on in the past and what type of clients the business works with. The business should have experience in your industry and with projects the size of what you are looking for. A long history in the industry typically indicates that the manufacturer consistently satisfies customer requirements and presents a lower risk profile for potential issues with a project. 

Is the businesses quality system ISO certified?

Your reputation and brand are at stake when choosing a contract manufacturing partner. It is highly recommended that you only work with manufacturers with highly developed quality systems which are audited by appropriate third parties. 

How does the business demonstrate financial stability?

High quality manufacturers need sound financial management to purchase materials on time and in proper quantity, pay quality workers, and maintain safe and efficient facilities. The manufacturer will likely not disclose financial statements but should have a strong credit rating and freely supply letters of recommendation from suppliers.

What are the packaging options available to clients?

The packaging is a crucial part of the chemical blending process. If a partner cannot provide the packaging options you need, they are not the right partner for you. Ask a potential contract manufacturing partner what options they have for packing? What size packaging can they accommodate? What liquid packaging options do they offer? What powder packaging is available? Can they handle bulk orders?

Does the business offer warehousing, fulfillment and logistical services?

In addition to understanding what options a partner has for packaging, determine what the business offers in terms of storage and warehousing. A key advantage to outsourcing is having the contractor manage as much of the supply chain as possible. A capable provider should have strong relationships with dependable trucking partners, be able to warehouse and manage finished goods inventory where quick responses are critical, and drop ship to the destinations of your choosing with all.

What is the businesses production capacity?

The contract manufacture you choose must have adequate capacity to store materials and produce finished goods with a reasonable reserve to afford flexibility. Understanding the businesses capacity is crucial in understanding if they are able to successfully take on your project. 

What is the businesses track record with on-time delivery?

When choosing a partner, it is crucial to inquire about the business’s track record regarding on-time delivery. What is the business’s on-time delivery record? What steps are taken to ensure on-time delivery? If there is a timing issue with delivery, how is that rectified?

Does the business have a structured EHS Program?

Responsible manufacturers will have a written EHS program and should be able to provide related measures such as lost time accident and near-miss rates. If a business cannot provide this information when you inquire, you should reconsider choosing that manufacturer as your partner. 

How does the manufacturer manage business processes?

Strong business systems are essential for properly managing BOMs, production orders, inventory management, and accurate invoicing. Additional features such as warehouse management systems provide capability for accurate lot traceability which is frequently important with chemical products.

What does the client on-boarding process look like? 

Properly identifying all pertinent specifications and processing instructions up front is essential to ensuring error-free fulfillment from the very first order. Quality manufacturers have the experience and structured systems to properly capture this information and prompt customers for clarity when information is insufficient. You should be able to understand what the manufacturer would need from you to begin a project after leaving your discovery meeting. 

How will the business protect your Intellectual Property?

Your intellectual property is likely the lifeblood of your business. A responsible contract manufacturer will employ stringent protocols to ensure confidentiality. Contract manufacturers which do not market proprietary products offer less risk in this regard. Low turnover of key personnel further mitigates risk.


Are you searching for your perfect contract manufacturer? Royal Chemical could be your ideal partner.  At Royal Chemical, the customer comes first. With over 80 years in the business, we understand the complex needs of all types of customers. We strive to create a unique relationship with each of our partners by taking a customized approach to find the best solution for your needs. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

Topics: Chemical Blending, Flexibility, Outsourcing, Customization, Trust