Great Communicators: How CM-Enabled Transparency Reduces Risk and Improves Your Medical Device Supply Chain

Communication plays a critical role in any partnership. As you consider the conversations with your contract manufacturing (CM) partner, how can you ensure the best communication strategy to exceed your expectations?

At the very least, you need to tell them your product specs and they need to let you know when your product will be ready for market and how much it will cost. The question is, are you satisfied with the very least?

How big are the greatest communicators?

No two contract manufacturers are created equal. For strength in communication, look for a contract manufacturer committed to building a long-term relationship. Beyond that, consider size. Your ideal CM should be large enough to have all the resources required for world-standard end-to-end manufacturing, but not so large that they sometimes ignore your voice (needs) in favor of louder (bigger) clients.

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With the right-fit CM partner, there is no one in the company who is out of bounds to you. You can bring your concerns to anyone from any department and all the way up to senior management. That is, if you need to.

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Your CM partner will assign a multi-disciplinary core team dedicated to your projects. Whenever you have technical questions, ask your appointed engineer.

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How about questions about orders or logistics? Your planner can handle those. Sharing your goal for the timely and successful delivery of a quality product, every person on this team is proactive in recommending design, process and material improvements, as well as highlighting future opportunities.

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Lost in translation

As its name indicates, a global supply chain extends over several countries. If your too-large CM assigns work to whoever is available in different offices, there is a high probability that the “team” members have never worked together before. They don’t know you, they don’t know each other and they are still finding out about your business. That’s a lot of stumbling blocks to communication right there.

With an ideal-fit CM, your team is not just investing in your product, but in your long-term goals. The aim of this partnership is that they will work and grow with you, becoming familiar with your business and understanding what is important to you.

To make communication even easier and to ensure nothing gets missed, your key account manager becomes your point person for information sharing. This is who makes sure everyone involved is aware of their responsibilities, including timeline and deliverables. Your account manager effectively creates short lines of communication between team players.

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Can you hear me now?

Speed to market depends on collaboration, which in turn depends on the ongoing exchange of information throughout the entire production lifecycle. Any misunderstanding can cause delays, either in the back-and-forth required to get things right, or worse, moving forward with bad information.

Communication is also key to agility. When there are emergencies, escalations, re-in or re-out requests, new opportunities or anything else that requires a quick strategy change, established open channels of communication enable your dedicated team to react like a well-oiled machine. If your partner is already familiar with your company, product and goals, they can immediately move swiftly to adapt plans of action to new circumstances without consulting too many bureaucratic layers.

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Verbal communication is one thing…

The human ear is imperfect. Memory is even more so. What you try to convey and what people hear does not always line up. And even if it does, it may not be remembered correctly or could be forgotten altogether. The solution to this, as every school student learns, is to write things down.

Of course, in manufacturing, it is not anywhere as simple as that. There are specific documents with specific formats to ensure every box is checked and no detail goes unmissed. In the complex world of medical device manufacturing, documentation is even more complicated… and all the more necessary.

From the very start of your CM partner’s involvement, you can rest assured that all process participants can consistently refer to the same, complete and most recent information. Likewise, records of progress, changes and meetings will be meticulously kept and easily accessed. Any misunderstandings about scope, deadlines or responsibilities can be cleared up in as little time as it takes to read written agreements.

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Verbal communication is one thing…

The human ear is imperfect. Memory is even more so. What you try to convey and what people hear does not always line up. And even if it does, it may not be remembered correctly or could be forgotten altogether. The solution to this, as every school student learns, is to write things down.

Of course, in manufacturing, it is not anywhere as simple as that. There are specific documents with specific formats to ensure every box is checked and no detail goes unmissed. In the complex world of medical device manufacturing, documentation is even more complicated… and all the more necessary.

From the very start of your CM partner’s involvement, you can rest assured that all process participants can consistently refer to the same, complete and most recent information. Likewise, records of progress, changes and meetings will be meticulously kept and easily accessed. Any misunderstandings about scope, deadlines or responsibilities can be cleared up in as little time as it takes to read written agreements.

Transparency and trust

It is tough to hand over your project to a CM if you believe that means losing control over a big chunk of your supply chain. With document-supported communication, your right-fit CM partner will ensure that all processes are so transparent that you’ll likely have even more visibility over the end-to-end design and production process than most manufacturers have when they do things in-house.

Communication is often the unsung hero of an effective supply chain. A contract manufacturer who takes communication seriously can help you avoid costly errors and delays. They improve product quality and speed to market by ensuring your diverse team is always rowing in the same direction. They protect you from reputational damage and fines that result from shoddy or incomplete documentation. They build trust, work with you to find better alternatives and encourage partnership-driven innovations.

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About Providence Enterprise

Providence Enterprise is a Hong Kong medical device contract manufacturer of Class I and II medical devices with manufacturing in China & Vietnam. We specialize in electro-mechanical assemblies and high-volume disposables. We are FDA registered and ISO 13485, ISO 14971, ISO 14001, ISO 27001 certified. Our capabilities include fabricating tooling for silicone rubber and injection molded plastics, clean room injection molding, electronics, clean room assembly, and sterilization.

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