Industrial Design and Innovation

Blender’s Oliver McDermott Discusses Offshore Manufacturing

Product design and development consultancy Blender Design‘s managing director Oliver McDermott was recently featured in an NZherald article discussing the advantages and challenges of outsourcing for offshore product manufacturing.

Blender has collaborated with AUT students in the previous years, for example, acting as a mentor for third year students last year working on a brief to design “appcessories” with social impact. Blender will be working with some of the third year students again this year later in the semester.

As a product design consultancy, Blender often outsources prototyping and small production runs to offshore manufacturers. According to Oliver, the reasons for outsourcing are rarely cost related. “You can get a whole product –  which is made from a variety of different materials and processes – all done in one place, whereas here you’d be project managing it all over the place to get it done… There are things we get done in China… that you just can’t do here – at least not feasibly.”

Oliver offers some practical tips on how to manage offshore outsourcing effectively: “don’t focus on getting something cheap because that’s the result you’ll get.” He emphasises the importance of talking to manufacturers about quality expectations and client needs before talking about price.

He also highlights communication as a key skill needed to get the results that you want. “Be very, very clear with your instructions. Have them in writing, or even better in a drawing and get a signed quote so you’ve always got something to go back to.”

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