Disaster recovery planning - what to look for in an EMS partner

When you're choosing an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider to outsource your manufacturing operation to, you're probably not thinking about the ways in which things could go wrong. 

While you're unlikely to encounter a catastrophic event in your outsourcing venture, it's nevertheless prudent to ensure that you work with an EMS partner who has the capabilities to deal with such a scenario if it should occur. 

You want to rest assured that customer demand will be managed in the event of adversity – and that any damage to your business will be minimised. So what should you look for in an EMS provider's disaster recovery policy (DRP), to ensure you're covered?

When disaster strikes

Disasters can be natural or man-made – ranging from earthquakes and tsunamis to nuclear accidents and terrorism. Then there is the fallout that occurs as a direct result of political or economic instability – for example, the economic crash of 2008 and, more recently, the exchange rate fluctuations following Brexit. And even simple things like a power outage, change of ownership or key personnel changes can have an effect on your relationship with your EMS supplier, with service and price changing almost overnight.

All of these occurrences can impact on your manufacturing operation and, in particular, your supply chain. Production schedules can be completely dismantled and chaos can ensue. This is clearly a scenario you want to avoid as far as possible.

The importance of a disaster recovery plan (DRP)

It's not enough for your EMS partner to say they have a DRP in place to deal with unforeseen circumstances – it needs to be captured and documented. And it shouldn't just be a forgotten section of your contract that hasn't been reviewed in years – it should be a concrete plan-of action.

Key points to look for include:

  • Risk assessment analysis
  • Emergency procedures to deal with the immediate fallout of a disaster 
  • The measures they have in place to re-ignite the supply chain
  • How they multi-skill their staff
  • If they have access to more than one manufacturing site
  • How they recover their IT systems

Additionally, your potential partner should be constantly working to mitigate against disaster. For instance, the procurement team should have access to market intelligence and they should also be monitoring the robustness of the supplier base in terms of financial stability, changes of ownership and business strategies that might create uncertainty. 

Peace of mind

Partnering with an EMS provider that can demonstrate they have a clear DRP in place will give you peace of mind that your manufacturing supply chain is in good hands – and that it will be safeguarded as far as possible, even in the event of catastrophe. 

Therefore, it's really important to seek out an EMS partner that has a well-documented and thorough DRP. Life throws us all curveballs but it's good to know that your manufacturing operation is surrounded by a protective layer of processes. Of course, it is impossible to guarantee 100 per cent protection, but prevention goes a long way towards achieving this.

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Written by Neil Sharp

Neil has over 25 years’ experience in Electronics Manufacturing Services and Component Distribution. During his career, Neil has held a range of leadership positions in sales, marketing, and customer service. Neil is currently part of the ESCATEC Senior Management Team and is responsible for setting and delivering the overall Group Marketing strategy. Neil heads up the marketing department and is responsible for both the strategy and the implementation of innovative marketing campaigns designed to deliver high quality content to those seeking outsourcing solutions.