RUX Manufacturing Trip to Vietnam and Taiwan
by Tony Richardson on May 26, 2023
Last week Jeff and I visited our manufacturing partners in Asia. These trip are absolutely critical to the design and development of product. It impossible to overstate how much you get out of meeting with the people that you communicate with on a daily basis as well as making connections with people that you are interested in working with. On top of this, actually seeing where and how your products are produced, or could be, and having first hand knowledge of this as you are working on things takes so much of the guess work out of this process and leads to better results with less troubles. In an ideal world design, development and manufacturing would be one in the same. The unfortunate reality of the world these days is that its not so the more time you can spend on trips like this the closer you can come to that.
Our first stop was in Taiwan where our fabric is produced. This factory is would class is mostly focused on the production of materials for the medical, marine and aviation industries (think about that the next time you don’t listen to the softly briefing at the start of a flight.) Needless to say they make some of the best coated fabrics in the world and we are lucky enough to have ours made to the same standards.
We spent the rest of our time in Ho Chi Man City in souther Vietnam. First of all HCMC is one of the coolest cites I have ever been too and I’ve now had the good fortune of spending a fair bit of time there. It has is all; the people are some of the friendliest and hard working in the world, the food is hands down my favourite and if you want to get shit made there no better place.
We have the good fortune of working with Pungkook, one of the largest bag manufactures in the world. They have a network of factories across Asia, and we work with one of their main facilities not far from down town. Our team there is amazing. Due to Covid we didn’t get to meet them in person for the first two years of RUX existence, so when Tom and i went in the fall is was really special. This time, being our second trip, it felt like a bit of a reunion.
The way it works is we have sent tech packs (drawings and specifications) of products we are working on and they will prepare physical samples of these for us to go over when we arrive. This will take a day or two. They will then take our comments and start making revisions to the samples. In the mean time we go and visit the other suppliers. This time we visited the factory that is injection moulding our plastic parts, another one that we may work with on more plastic parts, one that does aluminum hardware, as well a couple others. These factory visits are magic. It’s like watching episodes of “How it’s Made” but in real life, and pertaining to something that you are trying to have made. Again, it can’t be overstated how important this is to the design process. The idea of designing something and never visiting the place that it is produced, and see in the people doing it and talking to the them and just getting amongst it in real like if insane to me. Like I said before, it would be ideal to have this closer to have but just getting a glimpse of this is incredible and invaluable.
In summary, I love travelling, I love going to places and seeing different cultures and eating different food and doing sports and stuff while Im there, but the actual best kind of travel to me is when you actually have a purpose, you have people to engage with for more then just your amusement, so these trips are some of my favourite. As a designer, its critical that you understand not just how the product is being used but also how it is made, so these trip are some of my favourite to do.