Factory Visits

I moved to Taiwan recently after graduating from an industrial design program in the US. I hoped to take advantage of the proximity of manufacturing centers to learn about different production techniques and to soak up some Mandarin as well.
Does anyone have any advice about how to approach manufacturers? I am not working with any companies, it is purely for my own professional development. But I wonder how much of their process they will show to someone who isn’t a potential client? (Just now, anyway.)

Thank you for any advice you can give!

It’s going to be hard to get into a factory setting without a specific project you are working on. This is where your network comes in… having a friend introduce you to a factory would be a good way to get in the door. That, or actually getting work in a factory setting. That would actually be really cool and you’d learn a ton.

my best advice… go drinking where the expats take their customers drinking, make friends with them, get an invite to visit their factory. That’s probably your best bet to set up a casual visit to a manufacturing facility. Anyone local, working at a factory, won’t have the time of day for you unless you’re a customer or bringing them business.

I don’t know Taipei, but a saturday night in Wan Chai should get the job done… just bring some extra cash to buy the nannies drinks.

i know it sounds like i’m joking, i’m not.

In my experience, there are few factories still located in Taiwan. Most of the Taiwanese factories that I work with have moved all of their factories to China. The only factories I know that are still there are Ribbon factories.

You could contact manufacturing companies in Taiwan and Hong Kong and ask if they are looking for U.S. designers, freelance or permanent. Some of the factories I work with do hire Americans, mostly on a freelance basis. I would start with manufacturers in industries you have experience or interest in.

You might also want to contact a large import agency, such as Li & Fung or Testrite. I’m not sure who to contact there, but they work with thousands of factories in a variety of industries.

Working for a retailer/wholesale/trading company is the way that many designers gain experience working with factories.

I would look up a few local manufacturers online, get their phone numbers or email and just cold call to see if they would let you visit. It would definitely help to have a purpose or reason for visiting too, even if it isn’t significantly important. Good luck to you, and I found a website that is relevant.