A membrane switch is a great addition to any project that requires designing and implementing an outstanding customer experience. Membrane switches offer fantastic flexibility, and their applications can be made to fit almost any industry.
When designing membrane switches, experts need to take into account parameters such as graphic overlays, visual and tactile feedback, physical design, surface finishes, and application environments. That’s why most designers tend to spend more time on figuring out the shape and functionality of a membrane switch. However, they should spend just as much time considering the partner who will help them develop and manufacture it.
The choice of a membrane switch manufacturer is one of those factors that make or break your project. Here are six essential questions you should ask a manufacturer to ensure that they offer what you need and are membrane switch experts.
1. Do you have experience in working with an application like mine?
Asking this question right at the beginning is a good idea. One of the most common reasons why switch failures happen is because the manufacturer fails to match the material with the operating environment.
That’s why it’s so important that your membrane switch manufacturer has a clear understanding of the application for which you would like to create the membrane switch. Note whether the company representative asks you questions regarding anything from backlit capabilities to chemical exposure or design.
Without knowing all of this, determining the right membrane switch for your application is next to impossible. If the manufacturer doesn’t ask these questions, consider this as a red flag.
2. Are you a certified manufacturer? Which certifications do you hold?
It’s key that you do your homework before deciding to partner with a manufacturer. Essentially, it all comes down to looking for signs of credibility and checking which industry standards and certifications the company has obtained.
Based on the accolades the manufacturer achieved, you can learn a lot about the company and the standards to which it operates. An ISO-certified manufacturer that has an in-house design team will be able to ensure that all of your design requirements are achieved.
3. What is your approach towards prototyping?
This is another important question you need to clarify before deciding to work with a manufacturer of membrane switches. Prototyping should be must-have in any product development. This is simply the best method manufacturers can use to help their customers get the best results efficiently.
Mention the questions of speed and effectiveness during your discussions with the membrane switch manufacturer. Ask the company what its prototyping process is and whether it’s included the price.
Moreover, you should clarify whether any issues that arise during prototyping and result change will be included in the price as well? Solving all of these issues related to prototyping will help you choose a company that takes full responsibility for the job.
4. Do you have in-house design experts?
The answer to this question can tell you a lot about the manufacturer. Many companies out there reduce their design engineering staff and choose to focus on the final product instead. This means that component details are often left to their supply-chain partners.
While your supplier might have in-depth expertise in membrane switches, you might need to get help with designing these components somewhere else if they’re not able to provide it in-house.
That’s why it’s so important to find out how much the manufacturer is willing to invest in design efforts. If you don’t have that type of expertise, you’ll have to ask your manufacturer to fill the gap with a special membrane switch consultation.
At Melrose, we offer such consultations at the beginning of projects to help our customers clarify all the key issues such as durability, cost constraints, manufacturability, and performance requirements before we set out to realize their projects.
5. How do you optimize your processes for greater efficiency?
It’s essential to look for partners who know how to handle the manufacturing system and adopt modern approaches such as lean manufacturing. Otherwise, you risk receiving a bad batch of components, late shipments, or delays caused by running into operational challenges.
That’s why it’s so important to find a manufacturer that embraces the lean manufacturing philosophy. In its essence, lean manufacturing is all about reducing the time and motion required in the process. This, in turn, helps to lower the costs, eliminating errors and inefficiencies from the process.
Consider how lean manufacturing philosophy is ingrained into your partner’s organization. Is it a long-term commitment or a buzzword that company representatives use to attract more clients? You need to know this before delegating the task of producing membrane switches to a manufacturer.
6. Can you manage color consistency?
It’s likely that your manufacturer uses components made by many suppliers from all over the world. When integrated into a single finished product, they all need to match. If they don’t, your brand image will suffer.
That’s why you need to make sure that the manufacturer knows how to handle the nuances of colors. Does the supplier invest in color-matching technologies, processes, and staff? This is how you can learn whether your partner will help you to maintain consistency with brand standards or not.
7. What other services do you provide?
The more services the manufacturer offers, the better. It means that the membrane switch supplier is an established business with a wide range of expertise. For example, at Melrose, we deliver industrial nameplates, product identification, barcode labels, and even touchscreens, keypads, and flexible consumer electronics. We provide our clients with a broad selection of high-quality products to help them manage different aspects of their application with one manufacturer.
Choosing a good membrane switch supplier isn’t easy. But if you focus on the factors that go beyond the best price and ask these questions, you will find an excellent business partner that helps you drive better results in your application.