Description of What STAK Does:
“At any opportunity I tell people STAK’s your team. Not only can they do what you’re asking, but they’ll probably help you learn what you are really after and help you get there.”
– Mark Nielson, Global Supply Chain Director, Jamberry
Improve Product Designs
We improve product designs so that they are more cost-effective to produce and result in better quality products. Global outsourcing today demands that products for sale in the U.S. have the proper balance of quality and price.
From Concepts to Ready-to-Sell Products
We take concepts and turn them into ready-to-sell manufactured products. This includes manufacturing the product, packaging, labels, and manuals; we ensure quality control, incorporate compliance requirements, and provide logistics support. Basically, if someone comes to us with an idea for a new product, we can help them tweak their design for better manufacturing, get it produced and ready to sell, and ensure the product meets the required standards and deadlines.
Project Consulting and Review
This is a smaller portion of our business and not really our prime focus. But, we can offer our expertise for a fee to discuss or help address manufacturing problems you may be having. The motivation behind this is to see if we can provide you with a better manufacturing solution through us.
The Two Solutions STAK Offers:
End-to-End Manufacturing Solution
We address the risk and reliability issues associated with global outsourcing by providing an end-to-end manufacturing solution. We minimize the risks of manufacturing in China by doing the following:
- We review and ensure products are designed for manufacturing (DFM) before ever hitting the factory floor. We address quality and costs upfront rather than dealing with manufacturing issues after investment costs are spent.
- We have people on the ground. We have manufacturing experts in the U.S., China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Hong Kong. If there are issues, we have an expert in-person to address them.
- We incorporate quality control into all aspects of our manufacturing process. We do not ship surprises. Our customers receive the quality products they expect when they expect them. If there is an issue, we work with them to address it.
- We manufacture to meet compliance requirements. We can manufacture products to meet compliance standards that meet or exceed all specs. We have a robust and reliable supply chain with access to compliant materials. We can work with testing facilities as part of the compliance process.
- We take the risk out of global outsourcing, saving you money and time.
Saving You Time & Money
If you have an idea for something to manufacture, we can help you through the entire process from design to a packaged product shipped to your desired location in the U.S. or around the world.
- Our ideal clients have an idea about what they want to make, but want to leave all the manufacturing issues up to us. They just want a quality end product they can begin selling.
- Out ideal project will require substantial custom work. Our value-add is in helping design and manufacture new or custom products. We can print a logo on products already manufactured, but that is not utilizing our potential.
- Our best clients and products require some of our technical expertise.
- We can do all of this (plus everything outlined in solution 1) while saving you money on product development and manufacturing costs, and saving you time.
Our Product Development Process
Traditional product development is a time-consuming and often excruciatingly expensive process. It involves many iterations with designers and engineers, while juggling compliance requirements, features, and target costs. Within this process, there are usually several parties involved producing significant overlap and wasted time. In many instances, when it’s time for production, design changes are often requested by the manufacturer to make the product more assembly-friendly, as they want to minimize assembly costs.
In a highly competitive global market space, companies simply don’t have months of time or tens of thousands of dollars to invest in launching a new product, risking that a better and/or less expensive version will soon appear. Speed and agility with low unit costs is the name of the game in today’s new product market space.
STAK Is Unique
At STAK Services, we have developed a proprietary process to bring products to market rapidly with minimal upfront investment. Instead of compartmentalizing design, engineering, and manufacturing, we have combined the entire product development process into an agile and integrated system that eliminates overlap, costly overhead, and wasted time – saving tens of thousands of dollars, and eliminating months from the product development lifecycle. Our approach is to put time-to-market at the forefront, aligning development and manufacturing to save money while getting your products into your customers’ hands as rapidly as possible.
We facilitate communication from the front lines of manufacturing through the ranks of marketing and sales – we make sure that what you want and what is possible from a manufacturing standpoint are closely aligned and kept in check.
Process Selection and Design for Manufacturing
We vet your designs with manufacturing in mind, designing with a low unit cost from the earliest stages by using the most optimal processes available. For example, if a part will have a high unit cost and low sales volume, it might be quite advantageous to extrude the part rather than injection-mold it – defining this during the design phase can potentially save thousands of dollars, while delivering to the end customer exactly what is needed.
On the other hand, parts are often designed specifically for injection molding. However, we encounter many parts that contain features that are difficult to mold, resulting in high tooling costs. We recognize when a slight alteration in the design can sometimes cut the tooling cost in half without changing the product function.
There is a lot more to launching a product than just coming up with an idea, spending money on design and engineering, then taking it to a manufacturer to produce. To get the lowest costs with the highest capability, China and other Asian countries are often the best options.
Launching a new product requires the ability to articulate what the end customer needs. Producing that part for a cost that the customer is willing to pay is mandatory. This process is fraught with difficult challenges and risks. Getting any one part of the process wrong is expensive, wastes months of time, creates safety and liability issues, and exposes your entire company to unwanted reprisal.
STAK Services builds a bridge communication channel from our clients to the suppliers and facilitates a space where everyone can communicate clearly what is needed to mitigate risks. While the traditional product development and manufacturing processes can feel like communicating by telegraph, our process creates a person-to-person feel with all parties simultaneously connected.
We Take Risks
STAK Services’ business model allows us to take on worthy projects. We channel our expertise and passion for breaking down barriers to help fund and launch projects that otherwise may not be viable due to cost constraints. We’re passionate about entrepreneurship; we love problem-solving, and we live to work together creating win-win-win situations. We have the flexibility to frontload tooling, engineering, and prototyping costs producing an attractive arrangement that allows a project to sprout wings and take off.
We Make It Happen
We are not experts at everything, but we work with a lot of amazing people and are passionate about making things happen and getting things done – especially projects that are challenging and don’t have easy solutions. If we are experts at anything, it’s working together in the product space to bring your project to life as fast as possible and with the lowest barriers to entry.
There are lots of moving parts and many things need to go right to develop or produce a product. What’s troubling you the most? Contact us now for a no-strings-attached consultation and let’s see how we can work together to get your product into your customers’ hands.
Design for Manufacturing – A Blueprint for Cost Control
The explosive growth of web-based commerce has accelerated the scope and variety of product development to levels previously unimaginable. Though most people seldom go beyond the first page of search engine results, just remember that any time someone conducts a search for any product, the number of companies that manufacture that product extends well beyond. As a result, every detail in the manufacturing process takes on heightened importance.
There is no margin for error. When entrepreneurs or companies approach us to help them find the best Asian manufacturer for their product, design for manufacturing (DFM) elements become critical.
STAK understands the importance of confirming that all products employ today’s design for manufacturing techniques. In fact, STAK only engages with manufacturing firms that comply with these and other such guidelines. Why? To save the source company significantly with manufacturing expenses.
You May Be Surprised to Learn That:
- 70% of the cost of manufacturing any product is based on design-related decisions.
- 20% is the result of production-related decisions including the type of machine tool and process planning.
- 10% is being absolutely certain that you are represented by a firm with the expertise to ensure the manufacturer uses design for manufacturing processes.
In order for an Asian manufacturer to meet STAK’s stringent compliance guidelines, that company must prove it understands the nature of DFM. Our China manufacturing partners recognize that:
- Reducing the total number of parts is the best opportunity to lower manufacturing expenses. A reduction in parts results in reduced purchases, less inventory, lowered processing and developing time, less equipment, fewer inspections, less testing, etc.
- There is significant value gained with the use of standard components rather than customized versions. Standard components are more widely available, more cost-effective, and testing has previously confirmed their reliability. Obviously, product lead time is lowered.
- Often companies can use the same part for multiple products. This leads to lower per-part costs based upon higher volume orders from the part manufacturer.
- The product that employs effective DFM techniques is able to make technology-related design improvements without having to begin from scratch.
Strategic use of current design for manufacturing techniques enables any company to produce products that are competitively priced and readily accepted in the marketplace.
- Design-related decisions
- Production-related decisions
- Represented by a firm
We understand the challenges and complexities of managing a new product launch or handling production overseas. From managing supplier relationships; identifying guidelines and specifications; factory audits and site visits; to meeting deadlines in dealing with issues as they arise… Our team lives for exactly these types of events.
Does your situation fall into any of these categories?
- You already have a product that is being manufactured overseas
- You want to expand your operation
- You have found alternative suppliers
We can help. If it’s a good fit for us, we’re interested in managing a portion or all of your overseas manufacturing. We routinely work with in-network and out-of-network suppliers. We analyze, assess, and recommend. Whatever makes the most sense and whatever gets the job done in the most cost-effective way possible will always be our goal.
QC (Quality Control)
One of the biggest pitfalls that will sabotage a product or brand and sink an entire project is poor quality. This is the number one reason why people are hesitant to manufacture overseas. It’s a valid and serious concern.
On the surface, it seems as though quality control simply refers to people checking each product to make sure that it works and that it isn’t going to fall apart. However, effective quality control goes far deeper. Quality control begins with:
- A robust design
- Properly specified materials and components and
- Carefully controlled processes
All of these critical steps take place before a product is even assembled or tested. In our experience, poor quality is most often a design or process failure. Believe it or not, this is a concept that is not well understood within the industry.
If these underlying quality requirements are not addressed, it doesn’t matter how many people are testing and checking your product – there will still be quality issues.
Obviously, we have traditional quality control processes, with people checking and testing each product as it comes off the line. However, STAK’s quality philosophy begins at the concept stage and follows the design process all the way through to manufacturing. There can be no gaps; there is no margin for error.
If you’re having quality issues or concerns about one of your products or ideas, connect with us for a free consultation, and we’ll be happy to discuss our ideas and solutions.
Design for Compliance
Compliance Is Complicated
With so many different regulatory and compliance requirements in varied markets and industries, it may feel impossible to determine how to get your product to conform. Whether you are dealing with electrical requirements such as FCC regulations for the United States, or a safety certification from UL, we can help.
Have you ever wondered what all the alphabet soup and funny little symbols mean on the labels of your electronics and user guides? Each of these symbols and markings indicates compliance with a certifying or regulatory body including product safety, environmental standards, or EMC/FCC requirements. In some cases, products that are not yet compliant are often marketed. In other instances, noncompliant products are not allowed into the country.
Compliance Is Industry Specific
Each industry has its own regulations and compliance specs in addition to general requirements that cover all imported goods. For example, all imported goods must carry the label that shows the origin of the item and may require several other compliance features such as third-party testing certificates or an ingredient list. Toys have specific requirements for testing and certification based on the target age group.
Electronics are regulated by the FCC, and in most cases require a safety certification in order to sell to consumers. Food products and products used for infants have additional requirements. If you’re developing or importing the product, chances are very high that there is a substantial compliance burden involved. Noncompliance may lead to hefty fines, product recalls, lawsuits, or exclusion from sales channels. Compliance is not something you can afford to get wrong. Start early and do it right.
Deal with Compliance Issues Early
Compliance cannot easily be met in many cases when there has been no consideration during the design stage. For example, a product may be developed and only after-the-fact do you realize it needs a UL safety certificate. In order to meet the standard, it may require a substantial or complete redesign of the product. Safety standards and compliance requirements spell out everything from the size of the wires, the thickness of the plastic, what belongs on a label, and everything in between.
Some compliance is necessary prior to entry into the country, such as FCC compliance. SEC compliance is required of all electronic devices entering the United States. On top of that, there are different levels of compliance required, based upon the category of the device. Non-emitters, such as a simple power supply, require a more basic compliance measure than something like a remote control or Wi-Fi embedded device that sends or receives a signal.
Testing can take weeks and cost thousands of dollars; fines for noncompliance upon entry into the United States can cost even more. It’s essential to have your bases covered early in the process. In some instances, pre-certified components can be used to avoid costly testing and certification altogether. With our experienced and skilled team, we can help you save tens of thousands of dollars and mitigate the risks of noncompliance.
Each Destination Country Is Different
We regularly work with multiple testing labs and have experience certifying products to meet CSA and UL standards; FCC and RoHS requirements; as well as meeting safety, environmental, and EMC regulations in Australia (RCM), Europe (CE), and Mexico (NOM).