When Does a Contract Manufacturer Need a Contract Manufacturer?

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By: Liz Lipply | October 20, 2015

WhenDoesaCMNeedaCM1Contract manufacturers come in many shapes and sizes. Some are large international companies with sites around the world that are finely tuned lean manufacturing machines. Others serve a niche and may be an American Small Business.

The large international contract manufacturer is set up to make hundreds of thousands of the same product and do so extremely well. There are times that those large volume products require a machine that consumes or dispenses them. These machines themselves are a low volume, high mix build that is not attractive to same company but are part of the deal. The size of parts, right manufacturing processes, sources of supply, and order fulfillment process are not the same for the machine and the consumables.

This creates the need for a supplier to the large contract manufacturer to produce parts such as machine enclosures or panels that are part of a much larger machine. This could include more specific processes like structural foam injection molded panels, gas-assist injection molding to accomplish special cosmetic needs, or insert molding that will embed a hinge pin or metal plate.


These enclosures or ‘outside skins’ also need decorating. This could include painting, pad printing, or addition of decals.

Special functionality such as EMI/RFI shielding is also quite common with such enclosures.  

While providing the parts and the variety of value-added services, it may also make sense to add other componentry so the large contract manufacturer is managing fewer SKUs.

When this is all put together, the supplier that starts with some primary parts, adds finishing operations and componentry and simplifies the works of their customer, the large contract manufacturer. Just like the contract manufacturer is simplifying the life of the OEM.  

Ferriot has enjoyed its place in this process of supporting the large contract manufacturers and OEMs over the decades.

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