How do you know if systems integration or contract manufacturing best meets your needs?

In the world of manufacturing, the ability to maintain quality and on-time delivery is key to staying competitive and profitable. This is why many factories use durable products like industrial pointing devices ( found on While these are all common goals manufacturing companies strive to obtain, getting there can lead down two very distinct paths: in-house manufacturing (through systems integration) or contract manufacturing (also known as outsourcing). Some companies choose to outsource if they don’t have the means to produce something in-house. Companies may outsource a minuscule element of their production process or outsource a large portion of it, it all depends on the companies needs. Larger companies are often able to keep all of their production in-house as they have the resources and technology to do so. In order to keep processes as efficient as possible, some companies will visit sites like and make sure all of their software is up to date and running seamlessly, creating an effective production line so products are made on time.

Maintaining a compliant and safe work environment is always key in a factory environment, which is why many factories choose to install a fume extraction system. Checking out a site like might be the way to go for any manufacturers looking to protect the quality of manufacturing processes in their workplace. Manufacturing facilities are now moving towards technology that enables industrial automation to take place which improves operations and keeps the business moving ahead of the competition.

For Covance, a division of LabCorp, the dilemma they faced was trying to keep outsourcing to a minimum. This was of vital importance because the manufacturing company had to improve delivery times for investigational drugs desperately needed for ongoing clinical medical studies. It was a change that could literally be the difference between life or death for many critically ill patients.

Covance realized that a key drawback to their current outsourcing approach was pipeline efficiency. It was simple for company executives to identify this problematic issue, but solving it was far from simple. What they knew was this: If they remained heavily reliant upon manufacturing outsourcing it would continue to negatively impact their ability to improve delivery speed.

In addition, if Covance continued down the outsourcing path they wouldn’t be able to escape the need to allocate valuable man hours to oversee complex product logistics chains – a frustration they desperately wanted to eliminate.

Weighing the value of each manufacturing option.

There are many situations where outsourcing is the most logical choice for a company. For Qwizdom, a software and hardware development manufacturer of instantaneous response systems, outsourcing was a logical solution when considering the issues they needed to overcome.

Qwizdom is a small manufacturing company with a small management team that was being stretched thin in many directions, so they couldn’t concentrate on key growth opportunities. Because of this, Qwizdom wanted to give its product managers the ability to remain strategically focused on product development, marketing, and sales growth. To do this meant taking away the day-to-day manufacturing stresses they dealt with and outsourcing those to a contract manufacturer.

According to a recent interview by E-Bi with Qwizdom’s CEO, Darin Beamish, by outsourcing industrial design, manufacturing, distribution, and regulatory testing, “we are getting a 5% cost savings and producing a device that has a better feature set.” And the company freed up their product managers of manufacturing demands, allowing them to focus on new business opportunities.

In the case of Covance, replacing outsource manufacturing with systems integration gave them the flexibility they lacked. It was a step that could bring all their pharmaceutical production in-house as well as the efficiencies it delivered. Plus, it was a proven approach for countless other manufacturers and in theory should work for Covance, too.

While this was the logical solution for achieving Covance’s short-term and long-term delivery speed goals, it did have a potentially negative side: investing heavily upfront in technology, machinery, and training without any immediate ROI. But once everything was in place, as Covance’s management describes, they could literally “churn out” out doses of clinical trial drugs.

According to a recent article written by Fierce Biotech, “This new drug development [in-house contract manufacturing] initiative demonstrates Covance’s commitment to providing new and differentiated solutions to streamline and enhance clinical trials … bringing innovative medicines to patients faster, and helping change the way care is provided.”

Fierce Biotech goes on to point out, “The advantage of keeping manufacturing in-house is the level of control that [Covance] is able to hold on to, including the ability to scale-up and hold on to the product, process and formulation patents. Though the trend has generally been to sell off manufacturing capabilities, some [pharmaceutical] companies are actually expanding to bring biologics manufacturing in-house.”

Even Covance had to closely consider the fact that the in-house benefits may not always outweigh outsourcing through a proven contract manufacturer. Bringing anything in-house has a gamut of potential drawbacks. Besides the initial investment costs, there’s the consideration of whether or not there is a need to keep pace with manufacturing technology advances.

In-house vs. contract micromanufacturing: both can deliver big gains for the smallest parts.

Understanding what best meets your manufacturing needs is a big deal, especially if you’re producing micro-sized parts that need to be perfect down to 40nm. Laser Light Technologies specializes in this type of laser micromanufacturing.

For over 30 years, we have successfully built laser micromachining systems for client applications that range from medical device manufacturers to defense and aerospace contractors. For these companies, failure isn’t an option. It’s precision work that requires our Ph.D. engineers and technology experts to meet product requirements that are stringent, exacting, and demanding. This type of expertise and experience that allows us to deliver micromanufacturing success at our facility, or off-site at our client’s location.

So, when a company comes to Laser Light and inquires about laser systems integration and bringing this advanced technology in-house, what we have to say makes them stop and listen. We don’t immediately go, “Laser Systems Integration is perfect for your manufacturing needs.” Not exactly.

We begin a consultative process to validate whether or not there’s an ROI value for the client company. Not until there are solid answers supported by fact do we determine a final recommendation.

Key areas we consider to determine if contract manufacturing or systems integration is the best recommendation.

  1. Internal and external influencers:

What is the external push that our client or prospect feels to integrate a laser micromachining system? Maybe they can gain a competitive marketplace advantage by reducing their manufacturing cycle timeframes so they can bring their product to market quicker (as was the case with Covance’s need to bring drugs to trial quicker). They could need to reduce time loss caused by the inter-stage movement of parts being manufactured by a 3rd party vendor.

  1. Control:

Is integrating a laser system in-house the best path to take if the company is experiencing a lack of manufacturing control? The pain they feel is the inability to take immediate action, such as design changes, in response to changing market conditions. Can they meet this demand better and more effectively with an internal manufacturing solution, or is outsourcing smarter?

  1. Part Quality:

Does the part being considered for in-house manufacturing to require the kind of precision, quality output, and regulation that demands a high-end system? Or do the manufacturing requirements lend themselves to a more economically priced option?

  1. Capacity Demands:

If a manufacturing company is operating at full capacity, with orders backlogged, Laser Light may need to look into whether or not laser systems integration is the best cost option for expansion and meeting increased production level demands. Other questions to consider in this situation include inventory management and if it is worth dealing with higher material handling demands in-house.

  1. Technology Advances:

Laser Light makes sure the part being laser micromachined is not negatively impacted by future advances in technology. Basically, even if laser technology improves in areas such as efficiency and accuracy, this has little to no bearing on the part being manufactured by our client. We make 100% sure that any systems integration we recommend maintains the required precision, output, and ROI requirements to stay competitive for years, not just months.

  1. Production Quantities:

We take a look at small batch production vs. mass production. Here we closely consider if laser systems integration makes ROI sense based on the number of parts being produced and the overall value of bringing that production in-house. We consider things such as material movement (less travel distance equals cost reductions), interruptions in the production cycle, manual intervention by off-site parties, quality control, inventory, and the list goes on.

From liability to plant footprint considerations, nothing is left out in our recommendation.

  • Are there any liability concerns that negatively impact the decision or can this be taken in-house by the client?
  • What will plant disruption be, if any, while integrating a new laser system?
  • How much operator training is required or does this necessitate bringing aboard new hires for our client?
  • How much maintenance will be required?
  • Does the laser system fit within the specified plant footprint and it user friendly and seamlessly functional with other manufacturing processes?
  • Is there a need to avoid production interruption through phased implementation?

We can be your contract manufacturing source or custom laser systems integration solution.

As you can tell, laser systems integration, or any other type of systems integration, is not that simple. There are so many factors to consider. And the complexity increases exponentially with the number of manufacturing operations required. So, maybe you’re considering in-house systems integration or contract manufacturing but aren’t sure which is best for you. Laser Light Technologies can help.

We understand the upfront cost considerations, how technology affects both the short term investment and long-term ROI, the manufacturability pros and cons, any supply chain management issues, and everything else imaginable, we will consider it. Only then will we make a recommendation that will be right for you.