The recession put the industry on a diet. Every part of operations got lean, including engineering. Across the country and around the globe, the new engineering paradigm is to devote in-house resources to the elements of the design that give an organization a competitive advantage. For the rest, manufacturers rely on their suppliers and custom engineering firms. Private labeling is the logical extension of that model.
Putting a private label on commodity components provides a unified design experience for the end user. At the same time, it simplifies life for product development teams and assembly, alike. Components arrive at receiving the fully assembled and tested. It is a way to ensure performance, guarantee quality, and remove rote tasks from the assembly area. The right supplier can customize the product for specialty performance or packaging requirements. Let's look at an example using one of our customers that serves the video conferencing market.
Private labeling for video conferencing
One of the things organizations discovered during the recession is that video conferencing works nearly as well as connecting face-to-face. This holds for online classes just as much as it does for business meetings and training sessions. Of course, not all networks are created equal. Delivered over a very fast network, video content is a good approximation of the real thing. On networks plagued by outages and latency, video conferencing can send users running to the airport. To ensure success, organizations invest in assets from our customer.
Our last customer has been developing a suite of network components to support ultra-reliable, high-speed video with proprietary compression techniques. The product line includes converters, extenders, electronics, and optical transceivers. Now, optical transceivers are commodity items. The customer could have ordered the components online. Ease of access and rock bottom pricing doesn't necessarily equal quality, however.
Just as important, the customer had a specific set of performance requirements, along with specialty labeling and packaging needs. Major transceiver manufacturers would deliver quality, but they would not customize in the volumes that our customer needed—if they customized at all. As a result, the video conferencing specialist reached out to us for private labeling.
Modifications began with technical parameters. They had specifications for EEPROM coding through specific serial numbers, the key and hash pair. The optoelectronic packaging needed to be customized, for example, co-listing the company name on the UL mark. In addition, each device is marked with a serial number from a list supplied with the purchase order. As a result, each transceiver needs to be packaged individually rather than in the more common trays of eight or 10 devices. We developed appropriate containers that protected the transceivers from shock, vibration, and ESD during shipping and handling. The outer packaging also needed to be consistent with their branding and marketing.
We worked with our factory to make the modifications, deliver samples for testing, and ramp up to production. We are currently shipping hundreds of these private label products to the customer every month. They recently asked us to begin supplying them with RJ-45 SFP transceivers.
What to know before you call
If you're considering labeling, collect as much information about the application as possible. You want to have a clear list of technical specifications, but that is just the start. Be sure to include any modifications required to support marketing and branding. Don't forget about regulatory requirements.
Look for a supplier that is able to do testing and qualification for you. Make sure that their factory is on a scale to deliver the volumes that you need, not just initially but going forward. They need a solid track record. They also need to be responsive and readily available. This is a partnership. The success of these types of projects really hinges on frequent communication during the startup phase. You want a supplier is available with a quick phone call without crossing time since.
Properly executed, private labeling can deliver big benefits. Our video conferencing customer was able to fine-tune their compression technology to the point that they have been able to support 4K video using 1 Gb Ethernet transceivers rather than faster (more expensive) 10 Gb Ethernet transceivers. We are delighted to be part of their success and look forward to being their partner for many years to come.
Find out how we can help you with your next project. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (201) 455-6486