Research and development (R&D) is often something a business likes to keep in-house. But if you’re exploring contract manufacturing, you may not realize that many of these third-parties have their own R&D departments.
When evaluating a contract manufacturer, you’re likely considering factors such as their production capacity, access to raw materials, and technical expertise. But if you’re looking for a company to not only manufacture your product but also work as a partner with your business, learning about their R&D capabilities is important as well.
Many larger contract manufacturers invest in R&D, which may seem unusual. If their business is about making products based on other company’s designs or blueprints, why would they need to focus on research? Wouldn’t the businesses that hire them take care of that?
R&D groups in contract manufacturers usually work to make sure a client’s product can work on their production processes or looking at ways they can optimizing those processes. This can include raw material sourcing, formulation work and product trials.
Investing in R&D is a great way for a manufacturer to ensure they’re on the cutting edge of technology. They can conduct research on new raw materials and see how they interact with ones they use currently. Perhaps they can discover a cheaper ingredient that can produce the same quality results as a more expensive one, which can help your business save money without compromising integrity. Or maybe they’ll find unknown side effects between ingredients that haven’t been seen before, which can help your company from making a mistake by using them both. A contract manufacturer invested in R&D can provide additional insight and technical knowledge to your business to ensure you sell the best product possible.
Contract manufacturers can also conduct research around compliance standards. Countries will vary in their product requirements, and the same is true of retailers as well. As those standards change and evolve, a contract manufacturer wants to make sure the products they help create will satisfy those regulations. And if they work on many products like yours, a contract manufacturer may even have better insights into how to ensure compliance than your team.
Packaging is another area where R&D is important for manufacturers that you may not consider. What materials should you use in your packaging? What’s the best shape and size for the packaging? Your company may focus more on the aesthetic side of packaging, but a contract manufacturer can help with the pragmatic aspects that are just as equally important.
A contract manufacturer can even help if you’re looking to expand your company’s product line into new areas. Maybe you have a new idea that you think has great market potential but aren’t sure how of the best way to formulate it. Your contract manufacturer will likely have insights from the work they’ve done on similar products, and they can conduct their own R&D in parallel to yours to optimize and perfect your design or idea.
When evaluating a contract manufacturer, their research and design capabilities should be a factor you consider. A manufacturer’s commitment to R&D signals they are a partner who will help your company grow and expand in the future.