The Importance of Manufacturing Quality Control for the Best End Result

Manufacturing quality control in action.


You already know just how important it is to build a design and testing plan that is true to the concept you are looking to produce. But it is just as important to add a manufacturing quality control plan to help guide your project toward a more successful conclusion. Doing so requires you to develop an understanding of the underlying task that makes up an effective quality control strategy; one that leaves no stone unturned and a worry-free rollout once production begins.

Knowing That Quality Assurance Is Different from Quality Control

Manufacturing quality control in action.

It is all too common to hear the terms quality assurance and quality control used interchangeably. But these terms have two very different meanings, and it is important that you understand these differences before devising plans for your product’s quality controls.  

Quality control is more closely-related to inspecting the final product itself, while quality assurance relates to the production processes.

It is very likely that you have both ideas in mind during the design and testing stages of product development. However, the emphasis naturally shifts from quality assurance and into quality control the closer the product gets to final testing before reaching the production stage. It is safe to say that these two terms have many areas where processes intersect, meaning that you will need to fine-tune both to produce a superior quality product.

Automating and Process Scripting Simplifies Quality Controls

Automating the tasks surrounding the quality control process does more than just add cost and time-saving efficiencies into the manufacturing process. It creates scripted processes that yield stronger, more accurate products that can endure above and beyond customer expectations. The introduction of scripted and largely automated quality control processes presents manufacturing projects with several improvements to the quality of the final product.

Almost every product is designed with exact measurements, part placements, and final assembly steps all concisely laid out. Automating manufacturing processes can lead to:

  • Increased accuracy in repetition tasks to ensure a consistent final product. 
  • Reduction of issues caused by human errors.
  • Increased visibility for your project team into where potential defects may lie. For example, quickly identifying potential breaking points in products before they are boxed and shipped.

Inspecting a Product Is Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Performing a quality inspection is the fundamental pillar of a strong quality control plan. Inspections should be performed after every manufacturing stage a product must go through to be built, which ensures that a high level of quality is being maintained across the board. There are several steps that must be performed during each stage of inspection, including:

  • Measurement verification
  • Assembly examination
  • Testing in each product stage against design-specified performance requirements
  • Confirmation of product characteristics
  • Ensuring raw materials meet quality expectations

By performing these important quality control checks every step of the way, defects can be detected and addressed before they become a problem for the customer and your brand. Doing this reduces support costs due to warranty or recall issues, and creates a broader library of data that can be utilized to make precise improvements to future product lines. Performing these steps during an inspection will open up the channels of communication across all members of the production team.

Making Accountability the Norm in Your Projects

The ribbon that ties together quality control procedures and actions is the documentation of results. Recorded results lead to greater project visibility and ultimately ensure the accountability of every moving part and measurement no matter the design or production stage. It may be tempting to develop a simple accountability system, such as email chains, but these will quickly be outgrown and turn into chaos as a manufacturing project moves forward.

Instead, use the same automation tools used during the quality control process to gain a firmer grasp over task hand-offs, results, and responses. An ideal quality control accountability system will include tracking for raw material supplier performance, discovered quality issues, and will provide seamless communications. The timeliness of reporting, plus the ability to mine data to determine quality control patterns will lead to better production scheduling, improved customer service, and a capable product.

Using a Partner Leads to Superior Manufacturing Quality Control Strategies

It is no secret just how important having a strong quality control strategy can be to the successful development and production of a product. Despite this knowledge, many designers make cuts in this area in efforts to reduce costs or time, but these instead lead to opposite results. In order to maximize the efficiency of the quality control process and to maintain a sharp eye on a budget, consider adding a local manufacturing partner to your project team.

The experienced engineers at Pacific Research Laboratories apply quality control best practices to every product. This leads to an enhanced product development strategy that yields superior products. To discover for yourself how our services align with your project requirements, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

Developing a New Product Development Strategy Before You Start the Manufacturing Process

Project team discussing a new product development strategy.

Building a new product is full of excitement. But this excitement can quickly turn into a challenging assortment of tasks when a new product development strategy is not in place from the beginning. Though there are many lines of thought on how a new product development strategy should be constructed, it is beneficial to first consider the common challenges that can be encountered in a project’s lifespan. Below are some examples of how some common challenges can be tackled when building a new product development strategy.

Aligning the Economics of Development vs. Return

Project team discussing a new product development strategy.

Regardless of how innovative or earth-shattering your concept is, the ability to balance the financial aspects surrounding it must be achieved to have a chance of it ever reaching the market. Two key points to keep in mind are:

  • Ensuring profitability and functionality starts with determining the resources required for carrying out a project from concept through testing. This places a strong emphasis on ensuring that your product delivers a product that exceeds a customer’s expectations while being produced at a minimal cost.
  • Your new product development strategy must then focus on reinforcing your product’s purpose and audience. The extra attention and diligence placed on a product while it is still in its conceptual stage will help to address any cost-related challenges before they can become a challenge. 

Aligning these factors can help you build the necessary framework to make the best decisions to control costs—while still emphasizing quality—when considering material and labor costs, as well as to fine-tune a marketing plan.

Building a Market by Answering the Market

A crucial part of determining the financial viability of your product will be to know the market. You must have a firm grasp on:

  • The potential audience for your product
  • Current market gaps and how your product can be marketed as a solution to be used towards filling those gaps. 
  • How to maximize access to your product while providing post-sale support services in the markets where the product is sold.

An in-depth analysis of potential competitors of products performing some or all of the same functions as your product must be vetted out as well. This marketing analysis must consider any product that mimics any feature within your product, regardless of when it was or will be released. This will help you to develop a marketing strategy that sets your product apart from the others while getting the timing down on a release of your product to beat others to market.

Coordinating Design to Meet Production Expectations Equals Timing

Time is a fickle measurement. It can be both soothing and stress-invoking and is rarely friendly to those who need it back. The development of a design timeline is imperative to set realistic goals and to guide the project to hit the market at the exact right time. However, it is important to note that this initial timeline may need to change, and you should expect to build in agile design and testing tasks into a project plan as a result.

This is the perfect place to introduce the experienced eyes of a local manufacturing partner. Many manufacturing partners can offer their own internal design and testing resources, with some having templates built from similar projects that can quickly be applied to your own. Also, working with a local manufacturing partner eliminates any potential time-consuming bottlenecks that may come about due to differing cultural norms or excessive time zone differences.

Agility Is a Necessity to Stay Ahead of the Curve

An important aspect to achieve in the rapid design and development of an emerging product is agility. There are a number of variables that come into play that can affect the project timeline, and in many cases, these cannot be predicted until the project begins. This is why the development of a powerful document management process is so important; it will keep track of all project tasks and provide the design team with the ability to remain agile and make schedule changes.

Gaining the concise guidance of a manufacturing partner with proven strategic proficiency in new product development is a game-changing move. Not only will this assure all of the project stakeholders that you are taking agility seriously, but it will also provide an experienced set of eyes on all of the project’s moving pieces. And, the right manufacturing partner will have its own design and testing resources to lend to your team, becoming a valuable asset in your race to get a product to market.

A New Product Development Strategy Is Based on Planning and Documentation

Even though your product concept may have award-winning potential on paper, there is still a long journey before you go down the road to market. As even the best-laid plans can fail, it is important that you have a clear vision of the financials, marketability, and project coordination before you start. But you can seize the advantage by performing these advanced project planning steps and by partnering with a local manufacturing partner who can provide the services you need to see your project to completion.

Providing concierge manufacturing services to those whose innovative project ideas are ready to be machined and molded is a passion of the engineers at Pacific Research Laboratories. Our designers and engineers meld their vast experience and your product development strategy to get your product to market fast. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

What Is the Medical Product Development Process?

Illustration of a typical medical product development lab.

Constructing a medical product is not an easy task, and will add several additional steps to your project outside of those typically needed with non-medical products. The idea of medical product development will be the same as any other product on a fundamental level, but there are additional goals that need to be met to gain the necessary approvals for full-scale manufacturing and distribution to medical practitioners.

The Birth of an Idea: From Concept to Risk Analysis

Illustration of a typical medical product development lab.

If you are reading this, you probably have an idea for a product that could potentially perform a valuable task in a medical setting. But there are a few important tasks that must first be performed before finding a manufacturing partner to bring your product to life:

  • Define the market fit for your product, including its intended customer, cost entry points, and its potential for being accepted in a clinical setting.
  • Determine all regulatory aspects for the product, including testing, certification, and medical classification requirements.
  • Formalize and execute a comprehensive risk assessment plan.
  • Identify similar products on the market, as this can lead to quicker certifications and reduced clinical trial requirements.
  • Conduct a financial viability study that considers the costs associated with meeting regulatory standards as well as design and production costs.

Using this shortlist as a guide, you will gain a realistic idea of your product’s potential place in the market. A comprehensive idea around any testing or regulatory requirements and their associated costs will also result from performing the listed steps. This gives you the information needed to perform an in-depth risk analysis, which will either push your project forward or keep it on the drawing board for further work on its concept and purpose.

Align Product Verification and Validation Tasks to Medical Quality of Standards

Although customer needs will still drive the initial design and functionality of a medical product, the increased scrutiny of getting a product through clinical trials adds new layers to the project’s design stage. All steps of the design process must be conducted consistently and transparently, following a circle of design, development, and review. And, all of these processes must adhere to strict quality standards.

As with the design and development of general consumer-based products, holding to a high level of quality standards is necessary. However, the primary tasks of product verification and validation will differ slightly due to the higher levels of scrutiny that medical products must undergo. Here are some examples of each verification and validation as they apply to the increased due diligence necessary for medical certification:


Establishing viability and quality standards of medical products starts with verifying your ready-to-be-tested design against the engineering design specifications (EDS) created during its conceptual stage. This involves confirming that features operate as expected and can be documented and applied to the next stages of testing.


In this step, the final product design or prototype will undergo validation against both the EDS and the expected user requirements. An audit trail is extremely important in this step, as this is where the product’s properties are closely examined and its final design outcomes are compared to the conceptual and desired customer outcomes. It is here where prototypes come into play and are exhaustively tested and evaluated in clinical trials.

You must perform a series of scripted and concise quality control checks throughout the design process, regardless of whether your product is medical or not. The audit trail of design and testing will lead to an improved prototype which will, in turn, give you more realistic performance attributes, making your product a better product. This audit trail will also provide the precise information required by medical regulators that can be used for its final certification.

Build, Distribute, and Support the Final Product

Once you have reached the point where there are no more tests to run and have passed clinical trials with flying colors, the time has come to get your product out to customers. Before you begin to manufacture your product, you will need to have a marketing plan in place. But unlike other types of products, medical product marketing must be backed up by data and cannot make exorbitant claims. Doing this builds truer customer relationships and mitigates your risks and future liabilities.

Seeking a contract manufacturer that specializes in ground-breaking products is ideal. Also ideal is finding a partner that offers short-run and small-scale manufacturing options. This adds an extra element of quality to your product while keeping inventory at a minimum. And, when the contract manufacturer can offer design and development services of its own, you may find improved ways of building your product that you never before considered.

A Manufacturing Partner Simplifies Medical Product Development

Producing a medical product introduces layers of complexity that must be carefully managed. The project must be run with accurate documentation auditing in mind, and the design must be carefully tested to ensure that it can get past clinical trials in a breeze. But before you invest time into your project, partner with an experienced, all-inclusive white-glove manufacturing partner that can present volumes of experience and industry know-how to guide your project to a successful conclusion.

Partnering with the experienced manufacturing team at Pacific Research Laboratories can eliminate many of the early errors that can lead to costly project overruns. We use our experience in small-scale manufacturing and design to help certify, test, and produce your product as needed to meet the expectations of your medical customers. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

3 Turnkey Contract Manufacturing Principles to Understand Before Hiring a Production Team

Illustration of turnkey contract manufacturing fitting a project.

Turnkey contract manufacturing is a process that offers a full-service option to the already popular contract manufacturing model, giving businesses the ability to outsource multiple pieces, or the entirety of a project, to a selected manufacturing partner, including crucial design or prototyping tasks.

The benefits of turnkey contract manufacturing include alleviating the time and cost strains of a large in-house project. A contract partner has the experience and staffing on hand to apply lessons learned immediately to your project. Their resources reduce risks while enhancing support options, ultimately delivering products faster to end-users. But before you hire a production partner, it’s helpful to understand three fundamental principles that form the foundation of turnkey contract manufacturing.

Core Principle 1: Project Tasks Must Be Borderless and Synchronized

Illustration of turnkey contract manufacturing fitting a project.

Collaboration should be central to a relationship with a chosen contract manufacturing partner. While turnkey is inherently a full-service operation, communication is essential to any project’s success. When interviewing potential manufacturing partners, hone in on potential partners that also see collaboration as crucial and demonstrate that their values match yours.

Establishing a solid and open communications process will reduce the time it takes to make collaborative design changes or respond to a changing marketplace. This intercommunication optimizes production cycles and encourages fluidity and accountability in all parties involved in the project. Emphasizing collaboration with a manufacturing partner will streamline testing, prototyping, and production, reducing risks associated with misaligned expectations.

One essential quality in a turnkey manufacturing partner is their ability to provide a project model that integrates software design tools, testing prototypes, and other development tools that test and analyze results. The integration of these tools is ideally leveraged with rapid prototypes or 3D-design simulation models. The data from these results will be instrumental in making accurate determinations for needed feature enhancements and marketing strategies.

Core Principle 2: Add Project Agility Using Single Points of Contact

Maneuverability means that any manufacturing project must rapidly pivot with market conditions without sacrificing reliability or quality. A turnkey contract manufacturer can help build relationships with customers, leveraging feedback to nourish product success. 

An experienced turnkey contract manufacturer can help build a lean approach into your project design, minimizing the turnover time for implementing changes. Promoting project agility, from design to final distribution, requires seamless and focused contact points for managing customer feedback. By funneling all project communications through one point of contact, who then assigns the appropriate team members, companies fulfill requests efficiently. Organizing the process for managing customer feedback will improve response times and quality. 

Core Principle 3: Quality Controls Are Improved While Costs Are Reduced

Full-service should never mean sacrificing quality for convenience. The addition of an experienced turnkey contract manufacturer should set the bar higher for quality. Improved levels of communication throughout the project process, and the high level of design and production experience exhibited by the right partnership form a winning combination for establishing efficient quality controls.

The extra sets of experienced eyes on digital 3-D designs will ensure a product includes advanced quality controls during fabrication. That quality is founded on the ability to craft and test rapid prototypes and implement recommended corrections. Quality control teams and processes are built into turnkey services. A turnkey manufacturing partner’s industry experience provides resources and proven solutions that serve to bring your product to market with high confidence in quality.

Ensure Success By Using Turnkey Contract Manufacturing

A turnkey contract manufacturer will offer more than just production or distribution services; they will provide a complete array of services from design to quality control. Companies can select what services to use and when—ensuring success with supported communication and collaboration. Choosing a turnkey manufacturing partner that demonstrates the values discussed above will improve project agility, offer top-notch quality controls, and reduce development and support costs.

As a proven U.S.-based manufacturing partner, Pacific Research Laboratories provides turnkey contract manufacturing services no matter what stage your project is at. From design to distribution, our team of experts will deliver your product to its fullest potential. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

What is Contract Manufacturing? Definition and Applications for Your Product

Image illustrating the contract Manufacturing definition

The contract manufacturing definition is straightforward: it is when one company hires another to produce a product. What is decidedly less clear is how to apply this to your unique project. As with most things in life, even the simplest definitions can quickly branch out into complexities that threaten to trip you up. However, you can gain a firmer grasp on what contract manufacturing can provide for you by reviewing the answers to some commonly asked questions.

Is Contract Manufacturing Considered a Form of Outsourcing?

Since contract manufacturing involves one party reaching out to a manufacturing company to produce an item to spec, the answer to this is yes. The process starts when a business has created and tested a product to the satisfaction of its internal stakeholders and investors. They then reach out to a manufacturer that offers contract production services, ideally doing so exclusively, using the design specifications to produce the items.

Contract manufacturers can offer many attractive aspects not available to do-it-yourself or on-demand manufacturers. Discounts on materials, the ability to provide rapid prototypes to assist your final testing, and design assistance are all beneficial elements offered by an ideal contract manufacturer. These benefits gain steam when a localized manufacturer is chosen, which makes communications and distribution easier, and adds the “buy local” marketing aspect.

What Additional Attributes Should a Contract Manufacturer Possess?

Image illustrating the contract Manufacturing definition

Signing a contract with a manufacturer makes them an important business partner and a driving element of success for your project. It makes sense then to dive deeper into all that this partner provides to your project—and to understand their demonstrated success with similar projects—before signing. After all, this is a relationship that you will need to continuously monitor and manage to assure your customers and investors that only high-quality versions of your products make it to market.

With that in mind, here are several important items to keep in mind while selecting your manufacturing partner:

  • They should be a stable presence in the marketplace, including a high-value reputation and possessing sound financials.
  • The production facility must be well-managed and organized with an emphasis on safety and cleanliness.
  • Their quality standards must align to ISO certifications.
  • They must have the ability to quickly adapt production runs to align with customer demands.

Additionally, it is important to note the quoted costs by your manufacturing partner and to ensure that overruns or hidden costs cannot be added to the original estimate. This allows you to maintain consistency in the prices you quote customers and limits unexpected financial liabilities down the road.

Why Should I Use Contract Manufacturing for My Project?

The reasons for choosing to utilize the benefits of contract manufacturing will vary from project to project. However, several of the core advantages will be consistent regardless of application. Lowering of expenses is one, due to the competitive nature of manufacturing, and the obvious financial gain of not having to build or operate your own manufacturing facility. This removes much of the financial burden of maintaining ISO certifications or skilled staff.

Contract manufacturing allows your team to remain focused on the evolution of your project and its marketing. The ability to harness a U.S.-based manufacturing partner will limit cost points that international production could lead to, as well as minimize the effects of trade and distribution issues. A U.S.-based partner will present you with a quality assurance that better aligns with the features of your design.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Taking this Route?

There are several examples that can quickly fill the cons column when weighing the advantages of partnering with a contract manufacturer. But instead of listing the most common ones here, take note: the biggest drawbacks of outsourcing production, such as loss of control over quality or volume, can all be mitigated during your search. Refining your search process will instantly re-mediate almost all potential drawbacks, except for one potentially important area: your public relations.

One of the biggest drawbacks to outsourcing manufacturing is the potential of your brand as being perceived as a contributor to job displacement. Avoiding this hot-button topic can be minimized by choosing a local manufacturing partner that has a vested interest in fueling the business success of U.S.-based businesses, as well as those operating in the immediate geographic area. Staying local during your partner selection process will be a marketing point to be proud of.

Can This Contract Manufacturing Definition Suit Your Project?

The most accurate statement to make about the definition of contract manufacturing is that it can be molded and adapted to almost any project. This makes it necessary for you to know exactly what you need to bring your project from the drawing table to the customer. But sometimes filling in all of the gaps can be especially challenging. Thankfully, there is a local contract manufacturer that can lend guidance in each area to help get your project off to a running start.

Pacific Research Laboratories provides a complete team of experts to drive your product to its fullest potential. From the earliest stage of design to completion, our team works with you as a partner. This is because our greatest accomplishment is the success of our customers; successes that drive innovation. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.

Having a Contract Manufacturing Strategy Can Get Your Product On the Right Track From the Start

An agreement is made to reflect a contract manufacturing strategy.

It is vitally important to give your fledgling product a head start before it gets to market—this means establishing its uniqueness and functionality as quickly as possible. Typically, this involves hours of market and customer research to ensure that the product is reaching an appropriate audience and that this audience knows that it is coming. But in order to achieve this, you must utilize the proven recipe of mixing the right amounts of innovative features with design and production costs.

Having your project take the market by storm requires you to start building a contract manufacturing strategy in the early stages of a project. Understanding what needs to be in the contract manufacturing strategy for your product can be difficult. However, road maps exist that can help in building a strong and concise strategy that maximizes the marketing reach of your product while giving you all of the benefits of using a contract manufacturer.

Wade Through the Different Types of Contract Manufacturing

An agreement is made to reflect a contract manufacturing strategy.

You cannot build a contract manufacturing strategy without first knowing what forms of the process are available to your product. Each of these types will present its own pros and cons, and it is through the understanding of these that will enable you to make the most sufficient choice for your project. Determining the type of contract manufacturing you need also helps to narrow your search criteria, allowing for faster decision-making.

Contract Directly with a Manufacturing Facility

This can often be seen as an attractive option initially, but it comes with many logistical complications. While you gain access to a manufacturing facility, you will likely be limited in the choice of production machinery at your disposal. Also, you must provide your own workforce, make your own machine calibrations, and perform quality control using your engineers. In short, you will lose the input of an experienced manufacturing partner, and be left to fend for yourself.

Subcontract Labor

Adding a labor pool to complement your existing staffing can provide some great benefits to your project. You can obtain workers who possess skill sets that your current workforce does not have, and can do so with no long-term impact on your payroll. The catch here is this involves you having your own manufacturing facility available, either one directly operated by the business or through having access to a contracted manufacturing facility.

Production of Parts by Multiple Companies for Assembly by One Manufacturing Partner

Contract manufacturers are typically considered experts in specific fields of expertise. This is why sometimes it makes sense to get parts for your product—for example, intricate electronic components, built by a specialist for later assembly by the manufacturer. Oftentimes, the parts can be made by subsidiaries of your manufacturing partner. The primary drawback to this form of contract manufacturing is the additional areas of coordination that must be seamlessly orchestrated.

Production of Goods by One Contract Manufacturer

Also called private label manufacturing, this form of contract manufacturing is the most inclusive of all. Through the development of this type of partnership, you should receive input on your project throughout every phase. This ensures that the product you are creating is in the scope of the capabilities of your contract manufacturer. It also clears the path for in-depth collaboration every step of the way, from design and prototype testing and on through to the final product phase.

Improve Allocation of Project Resources

Devising a contract manufacturing strategy will be based on producing a market-ready product as rapidly as possible. Using the right manufacturing partner for your project breathes new life into it, in the form of increased agility and improved project collaboration. The most effective contract manufacturers will include some of their own design and testing resources, which work with your engineering team to make improvements as issues are identified.

Your manufacturing partner should also provide access to top-notch prototyping capabilities that can help you be certain of your product’s readiness, even up to providing their own input into test results so any performance adjustments are made with a high degree of accuracy. This high level of integrated collaboration will address all of the underlying nuances, such as weighing material cost, strength, and quality options against the likely real-world impact of your product’s usage.

Find the Balance Between Cost Versus Quality

A sense of losing control over the production of your flagship creation is one of the main reasons businesses refrain from seeking a partnership with a contract manufacturer. Holding onto this assumption would be unwise and unfair to your project team, especially when you consider some of the track records that manufacturing partners have built, proving themselves to be great partners in the building of high quality, cost-controlled, product builds.

Contract manufacturers understand quality and cost controls are vital pieces of the success puzzle. The most attractive of these partners will start an engagement by reviewing your product strategy and working with you to make fine-tuned changes to adapt your product to what has been seen in the market, as well as to help save you on production costs. They will work with you to streamline your business relationships, making collaboration and teamwork the foundation for your partnership.

A Solid Contract Manufacturing Strategy Starts with a Powerful Ally

Developing a strategy to bring a product to life has a very linear set of rules that have been long established as being successful. But when the time comes for converting a CAD drawing into a sellable item, things get a little cloudy. Choosing to use a contract manufacturer can give you a powerful ally to serve as a springboard for launching your product into the world.

The ability to provide contract manufacturing services with a local touch is a specialty of Pacific Research Laboratories. We provide a complete team of experts that collaborates with you to add the finishing touches to your design from start to finish. Then, our experience in small-scale manufacturing works to produce your product as needed, limiting your financial risk. To learn more about our services, please visit our contact page or call (206) 408-7603.