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KREATIZE: Manufacturing-As-A-Service Done Right

The manufacturing industry is in the midst of many changes, as emerging technologies are enabling new ways to access manufacturing services, reduce production time and costs. In this article we will share why  cloud manufacturing by KREATIZE is the optimal approach for hardware companies looking to take advantage of manufacturing-as-a-service (MaaS) solutions.

The 4th industrial revolution is taking place as we speak. 

Changes are happening quickly  as new technologies are being adopted across the industrial and hardware sector. Cloud manufacturing is one of the emerging technologies that has gone from theory to practice over the past 10-years.  This revolutionary technology  allows hardware companies to obtain their desired custom parts at the click of a button. 

Cloud manufacturing opens up new options for hardware companies when it comes to seeking manufacturing services for their custom parts. It provides great flexibility in terms of product development and ease of scaling, and requires no capital investment on a hardware company’s behalf. 

Not every hardware professional or business is aware of the capabilities of cloud manufacturing. In fact, many still see it as something that will become available in the distant future, even though it is already a reality, evidenced by the few companies that are currently offering plug-and-play solutions for cloud manufacturing services. Some even confuse cloud manufacturing with other technology solutions that are being offered to address the challenge of procuring and manufacturing custom parts.  

As a result of this prevalent misunderstanding, in this article we will assess the three main ways that hardware companies are using to obtain manufacturing services for their custom parts.  We will highlight the challenges, and the type of companies that can benefit from each approach. 

So what are the current options for hardware companies who want to obtain manufacturing services for their custom parts? 

The landscape is currently made up of 3 categories : the traditional approach, the online marketplace and manufacturing-as-a-service (MaaS). 

At the end, we will also show how KREATIZE’s cloud manufacturing solution is the optimal choice for companies seeking an efficient way of seamlessly acquiring custom parts through the MaaS category.  

The Traditional Approach

The traditional approach is how hardware businesses have been obtaining their manufacturing services for the past 70 plus years. This involves building up their manufacturing capacities or outsourcing them through a well-built supply chain. With an  outsourcing model, businesses look for partners and build a supplier network through a process of negotiations, periodic site visits, and due diligence. Companies may also practice a hybrid model where they own machines for specific parts and outsource the manufacturing of other components to partners. 

The Challenges: 

Building inhouse manufacturing capabilities requires massive investments in infrastructure, machines, real estate and human capital. Establishing operations and acquiring the necessary machines and people is a time consuming and costly process. It comes with a significant degree of financial risk and can make it difficult to introduce new product features, as you may become tied to certain materials and processes to justify your investment. Prototypes or small series batches might also be too costly to produce. Maintenance costs must be factored in as well. Most importantly, investing huge amounts of capital upfront simply amplifies your business risks. 

Although outsourcing requires less investment than owning and servicing machines, it is still not without its drawbacks, as it takes a long time to find and maintain quality suppliers. It also requires a lot of human capital in the form of procurement and quality professionals. Third-party factories might be hesitant to build small batches and prototypes, making product development expensive.  A hybrid approach might offset some of the difficulties of traditional approaches and be  less capital intensive, but it is still very time-intensive and costly.  

Who Can Benefit From The Traditional Approach? 

Companies with lots of capital and established products with large orders are best fitted for utilizing the traditional approach to procuring custom parts.  These mature companies can better handle the upfront costs of buying and maintaining machinery. They also possess the institutional know-how, manpower and market influence to develop a functioning outsourced supplier network. 

Who Is This Not For? 

Startups and midsize companies looking to introduce new products can better benefit from other ways of acquiring custom parts to minimize unnecessary financial strain, and give themselves more flexibility in their product development. Approaches, such as an online marketplace and MaaS, which will be covered in the remaining sections of this article. 

Online Marketplace 

Companies that choose this route have the benefit of no machine investments and finding suppliers with less effort than the standard route. Instead, they can rely on the services of a platform or matchmaking service that connects them directly to a manufacturer that can meet their needs.  In a marketplace, hardware companies post their projects and part requirements so that manufacturers can bid for them in an online platform.  Companies then decide their chosen manufacturer through a series of interactions and negotiations on the platform.  

The Challenges: 

Companies offering these services are transactional by nature and sell themselves as a platform to connect hardware businesses with manufacturing services. The downside to this approach is that by simply being a matchmaking service between hardware companies and a manufacturing partner for specific parts, they fail to offer a full suite of plug-and-play solutions. You will likely need to spend a substantial amount of time posting projects and testing various manufacturers to develop a portfolio of suppliers to meet your business demand. Capacity can also become an issue, should you need to ramp up production of specific parts due to company growth or an increase in product demand. In that case, you would be forced to look for more suppliers in the marketplace yourself to satisfy your demand. 

Posting and finding the right supplier in a marketplace might be quicker than the standard approach, but it is ultimately not a “one-click” solution. Marketplaces also offer varying degrees of quality assurance, and are essentially  brokerages (rather than partners with a deep understanding of the manufacturing industry), offering little guidance or assistance for product development. 

Who Can Benefit From An Online Marketplace?

Companies with established products that are looking to diversify their supplier network can make use of marketplace platforms to test and try new suppliers for specific projects. This is especially true for companies that are already using the standard approach (see above) but want to find new suppliers.   Online marketplaces are a low-cost way of meeting new suppliers and makes use of basic internet technologies to achieve potential matches. 

Who Is This Not For? 

Companies that are looking for a plug-and-play solution for high-quality manufacturing should consider going the MaaS route since using a marketplace will still require a significant amount of time to develop a network. 

Manufacturing-As-A-Service (MaaS)

Many new platforms are now offering services where customers can get custom parts from a large network of suppliers. Their technology is designed to be a fully digitized and automated way of accessing manufacturing services remotely.  

MaaS businesses promise to offer access to various manufacturing processes, and provide an easy transactional experience by allowing customers to upload their parts design to quickly get quotes for manufacturing costs and lead times. 

Unlike the standard approach, this way of acquiring custom parts does not require an investment in machines or procurement professionals to develop a supply network, negotiate prices, and audit quality. This means a more agile climate for product development, and a less risky environment due to less capital requirements. 

There’s no posting of jobs to attain bids from manufacturing companies like in online marketplaces. It is therefore faster by design and has a plethora of services already available for customers to simply request, without needing to advertise for them. 

Quality is also guaranteed by the MaaS company because they  carefully audit their suppliers . This plug-and-play solution also gives hardware companies access to a network of manufacturers that can easily help with any ramp up issues. Hardware companies are provided with quotes and times for delivery, and can order parts with just a few clicks. Thereby providing a seamless experience for the purchase of custom parts. 

The Challenges: 

Not all MaaS companies are equal to one another. Many have been set up to focus on specific manufacturing processes, such as laser cutting and CNC milling, in lieu of offering a full suite of manufacturing solutions. The sizes of their networks plus services also vary, along with their quality and customer service elements. 

For instance, you might find that one company offers a plug-and-play solution, but does not offer feedback on the design of uploaded parts, or have staff to help you configure your designs so you can get the most out of your MaaS experience. By not properly assisting you with the use of their services you are more likely to not be satisfied with the end result of your manufactured parts, and not benefit from a seamless experience.  

Some MaaS companies simply offer an interface for ordering parts with a limited set of manufacturing processes. Others might also be set up to only service customers on a more transactional basis as opposed to building long-term business relationships. In this case, more errors can happen between the MaaS company and hardware businesses. 

Who Can Benefit From MaaS? 

For businesses looking  to reduce capital and procurement expenses when it comes to acquiring custom parts, MaaS offers a plug-and-play solution and an easy way to order quality custom parts. This solution effectively eliminates the need to own machines and the time needed to find quality suppliers. 

Startups and small businesses who want immediate access to quality manufacturing so they can focus on product development are prime candidates for these services, as they can attain several manufacturing  processes within a few clicks. Larger companies that want to decrease their capital investments, spend less  procuring specific sets of custom components or  add agility into their product development processes are also great candidates for these services.  

Who Is This Not For? 

Hardware businesses that are looking for a comprehensive suite of manufacturing solutions, require feedback or help configuring their part designs, and that are looking for a less transactional experience should consider KREATIZE’s cloud manufacturing services, as other services within the MaaS space are likely to leave them frustrated.

KREATIZE Approach – Cloud Manufacturing 

So where does KREATIZE sit amongst all of these approaches to acquiring custom parts?  As a leader in the cloud manufacturing space, KREATIZE provides access to a sophisticated cloud platform of vetted global manufacturing partners, and is a subcategory of the manufacturing-as-a-service group. However, KREATIZE is vastly different from its competitors, as it offers cutting-edge technology to ensure customers get the very best manufacturing experience. Its approach has also been designed to eliminate any of the pain points in the MaaS category, thereby eliminating the challenges associated with it. 

The Solutions: 

With a network of 200+ vetted partners offering a plethora of manufacturing services, KREATIZE is one of the few cloud manufacturing networks that can serve demanding enterprise customers with a full suite of manufacturing solutions. KREATIZE also has the capacity to meet the demands of a growing company and can service companies of all sizes.   

KREATIZE also offers a high level of customer service at all times. Although it has a highly user-centric platform interface, you can rest assured that you will be able to talk to a human being should you require it at any point. 

Finally, a key component of our onboarding process is the feedback KREATIZE provides to its customers on their parts. After its customers upload their parts, and its proprietary software gives them a price and lead time, technical account managers review the part and make recommendations. This part of the process is referred to as making a customer’s parts cloud ready, so that they can get the most out of their cloud manufacturing experience. 

What does cloud ready mean? 

Cloud-readiness is the ability to get part designs configured, stored, and properly documented to achieve one-click manufacturing.  By not getting your portfolio cloud ready, you are simply not utilizing cloud manufacturing to its full potential, and are more likely to not be satisfied with the end result of your manufactured parts.  By making a customer’s part (or portfolio of parts) cloud manufacturing ready, KREATIZE has standardized and fully documented them so that they are ready for one-click ordering. 

Who can Benefit From KREATIZE? 

Hardware businesses that are looking for a partner that will work with them so that they get the most out of their cloud manufacturing experience, and not experience any of the paint points from the MaaS category. This means lowering their capital, and procurement expenses with a plug-and-play solution, while simultaneously getting the guidance necessary to get their part portfolio cloud ready.  Businesses that want to maximize and incorporate the benefits of cloud manufacturing for the  long term, and are looking for a true partner that can provide access to a growing network of qualified suppliers for custom parts with multiple processes at the click-of-a-button.  

Hardware businesses that want to make use of  technology, but at the same time want to benefit from expert feedback, and that  value a human touch as far as customer service, to ensure the best outcome. Forward thinking startups that are looking to completely rely on the cloud for their custom part manufacturing solutions, are  prime candidates for KREATIZE. Larger companies that are also looking for  an effective long term  way of decreasing their capital investments, lower their procurement expenses,  inject innovation in their product development process or simply outsource the procurement of specific custom parts for the long haul, will find an easy solution with KREATIZE.  

Most importantly perhaps, any business  that wants to experience the benefits of cloud manufacturing for the procurement of their custom parts, but have found themselves disappointed with the service provided by other players within the MaaS space. 

Who Is This Not For? 

Companies looking for a more transactional experience, and that are not looking for a comprehensive supply network with multiple manufacturing services would be better serviced by other companies within the MaaS category or by an online marketplace. Businesses searching for a solution to a small project or that need short-term assistance with supply will be better serviced by companies within the aforementioned categories. 

KREATIZE is not a service for companies that want to own every part of their supply chain, or that want to maintain traditional procurement methods. Companies that are not interested in achieving cloud readiness (one-click manufacturing) for all or a large portion of their custom parts are not good candidates for the service KREATIZE offers.  KREATIZE will also not develop a supply network with you or share its vast list of vetted partners with customers. Therefore, you should only consider them if you are looking for a company that can fully handle all or a large section of your custom part needs. 

The bottom line: KREATIZE gives clients its full support to ensure their parts meet, or exceed their expectations. It works with customers to make sure its technology is working to their full advantage, and that they can leverage our technical know-how. Customers always have access to an assigned cloud manufacturing expert who works with them proactively and who can answer any questions throughout the ordering process. In other words, KREATIZE offers the gold standard when it comes to MaaS. Simply put, KREATIZE is MaaS done right

Are you ready to take your manufacturing to the cloud with KREATIZE? 

Start now with your free account by making an appointment with one of our cloud manufacturing specialists today. You can also signup to our newsletter “Cloud Manufactured” to find out more about cloud manufacturing, hardware innovation, and our services.

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