Choosing a cable assembly manufacturer

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If you’ve decided to outsource production of your custom cable assemblies, one of your most important decisions comes when choosing your cable assembly manufacturer.

This brief guide offers advice from cable experts on choosing the right custom cable assembly partner for your project. If you make the right decision, you’ll add a stable long-term partnership to your supply chain.

Consider the needs of your entire team

Often, the process of choosing a manufacturing partner involves multiple team members across your company, all with different priorities.

Your engineers worry about finding a partner that demonstrates consistent build quality and strong process documentation. Operations management wants quick lead times and flexible delivery scheduling. And purchasing managers seek the best bottom-line price and favorable payment terms.

The right long-term partner will suit every area of your organization.

Don’t compromise when selecting a partner

If you know your business goals and your project objectives, understanding what you need from a cable assembly manufacturer should be simple.

Many manufacturers will offer tempting compromises. Maybe you can get a better per-unit price by ordering two years’ worth of inventory at a time, though storing the inventory will be difficult and you’d prefer to make design changes without scrapping product. Maybe you could use a straightforward commodity cable supplier on the cheap by developing a simple in-house hand crimping process.

But compromises are costly, and regardless of your needs, there’s a right-fit cable supplier out there. Prioritize cable assembly manufacturers that meet all your needs across your team. You’ll know you’ve found a strong long-term partner when they add value that reduces the burden on your staff.

You should look for opportunities for your cable supplier to add value beyond simple product shipment. Some suppliers can fabricate the mechanical structure your cable is housed in. Multi-Tek often sources commodity cables and prepares them for easy shipping or more straightforward use with labels and packaging.

Can you eliminate a tiresome process from your operation by passing the responsibility on to your cable assembly manufacturer? Will a particular supplier elevate your product?

Developing a valuable long-term partnership starts with choosing a manufacturer built to help you reach your goals without any sacrifices.

The industrial cable marketplace

New entrants to the cable assembly market find tons of companies offering very different products and services. To distinguish between them, first determine whether they sell commodity cables off the shelf or custom cables based on your design.

Off-the-shelf cable

You may just need simple cable without any value adds or fancy specs. If so, your search for a supplier should prove straightforward. You will have plenty of standard cable distributors across a variety of industrial applications to choose from and they typically offer reasonable prices and strong inventory.

However, off-the-shelf cable won’t always meet all your needs. The custom cable market offers its own diverse array of manufacturers

The “reshoring” movement

Data suggests manufacturers are looking closer at the opportunity to establish a domestic supply chain by replacing overseas manufacturing partners with domestic ones. We’ve had new customers report discontent with inconsistent quality, long lead times and poor customer service with diminishing cost savings.

We’d love to be the perfect custom cable partner for every manufacturer, and we’d love for the United States to re-emerge as an international manufacturing powerhouse. Just as Multi-Tek is a best-fit manufacturer for many projects, any number of overseas suppliers are more ideal on some others. We’ve come to terms with that. The key to choosing a supplier will always be understanding what you need.

Custom cable assembly manufacturers

If you’re hunting for a right-fit custom cable manufacturer, there’s a world’s worth of options with a wide range of capabilities and core competencies. Who you should work with likely depends on what you need.

Do you need a complex cable in extremely high order volumes? Companies like Molex sell more than components and can actually build custom cables for you, but only if you meet very high minimum order requirements. For the titans of industry, vertically-integrated companies like Carlisle Interconnect Technologies can engineer and build something entirely from the ground up — again, if you can meet a very high minimum order requirement.

Most manufacturing companies need a supplier with more flexibility. That could mean a shipping schedule matching your production calendar, the technical service staff needed to help you work through design changes or just a willingness to sign a contract with less than six digits behind the dollar sign.

cable assembly floor at Multi-Tek

Mid-sized cable assembly manufacturers like Multi-Tek handle a wide variety of projects at a wide variety of volumes. Choosing among them will come down to understanding each supplier’s capabilities.

Does a supplier specialize in cables for your particular industry? Do they already have all necessary tooling? Does their quality control process meet your needs?

The above questions will guide you to a supplier suited for your project with high build quality. If you need your product to meet a certain IPC/WHMA-A-620 class, make sure your supplier can meet that requirement.

What about lead times? Will the lead time suggested meet your needs? Does the supplier have a strong supply chain of their own? Do they respond to inquiries quickly and thoughtfully?

These questions should lead you to a supplier who can provide the level of service that protects your business from risk and strengthens your entire supply chain. The suppliers that deliver on both fronts without compromise would be a great fit for your company. From there it just comes down to price.

If you’re prioritizing top-line price in your search for a cable assembly manufacturer, we recommend you evaluate the costs late delivery, poor service or untrustworthy build quality before compromising them for the sake of cheap per-unit costs. Dealing with a quality control problem is often more expensive than paying for a trustworthy product up front, and the same goes for service-related issues.

So prioritize capabilities and fit.

Multi-Tek is typically a poor fit for startups prototyping new products in need of small, one-off runs. (Often, the best option for prototyping is to purchase the components and build the cables yourself.)

But we’re usually a great fit for companies in the process of scaling a product, since we can work in low or high volumes and excel in supply chain management. Since we have robust quality control systems on par with much larger manufacturers, we also partner well with companies who prioritize build integrity and process documentation.

Looking for a service-oriented cable manufacturing partner?

What if your cable assembly manufacturer tracked the potential for supply chain disruptions and prepared for them to avoid delayed shipments? What if their documentation and consistent build quality eliminated the need for some of your own quality control measures? What if they worked with your engineering team to reduce cable overdesign and control your costs?

Simply, you would have a more robust supply chain than your competition, with a partner that elevated multiple areas of your own business.

Your custom cable manufacturer can be your competitive advantage. Multi-Tek has played that role for plenty of our customers.

Request a quote. If we think there’s a better partner for you elsewhere, we’ll let you know.