Preparing for Mass Production

Ramping up mass production should be exciting. This is when you start building and selling a product that has completed design and development. You’re going to start making money on the product that you have invested in. Quite often, however, production ramp-ups become sources of schedule delays, cost overruns and missed delivery commitments.

When you start ramping up mass production, you are no longer building small quantities of engineering prototypes. You need to purchase components and materials to build your product in larger quantities and you need to pay for production tooling to make your product. Snags that occur during a production ramp can be really expensive.


Early in the product development process you need to ask the following questions:

    • Where will we make this product?
      • In the US? Or offshore?
      • Will I use my own manufacturing facilities or set up a new manufacturing facility or use a contract manufacturer?
    • What production and manufacturing capabilities are required to make the product?
      • You need to be 100% sure your chosen production facility has all of the capabilities and skills that are necessary.
      • What are your production volumes? Can your production facility meet your volumes?
    • What tooling is needed?
      • You’ll need to specify your production tooling, cost it out, and allow adequate lead-time to build and test the tooling

You should find and engage a well qualified manufacturer (assuming you aren’t using in-house manufacturing) at least three months before completion of product development and preferably four or five months before.

After you have engaged the manufacturer, do the following:

  • Let the manufacturer review the design of your new product
    • Quite often the manufacturer will suggest changes to improve the manufacturability of the product.
  • Prepare written production procedures and quality documentation
    • Every production step and every quality requirement needs to be documented and then reviewed with the manufacturing team.
  • Allocate resources to work with the manufacturer during production ramp up.
    • It’s imperative to have somebody present at the manufacturing facility throughout production ramp up to make sure the manufacturer understands how to build the product correctly and to test and inspect the product for acceptable quality. If somebody isn’t overseeing the early stages of manufacturing, you might take delivery of 10,000 products that were assembled incorrectly. Good oversight during the first couple of production runs can assure that doesn’t happen.

If you can use help setting up production of a new product, please contact Clint.