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Assembly Manufacturing: Putting Processes Together

Posted by Laura Austin on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

What do you look for when you're researching assembly manufacturing services for your next product? Are you simply looking for the lowest price, or are you looking at the big picture instead?

For the last decade, most electronics firms would have said “lowest price,” and left it at that. The entire fad for outsourcing electronics assembly to Asia was based on this idea. If the
assembly-manufacturing production costs are low enough, the theory went, then that could offset any other problems that came up down the road. It made a certain sense, and it turned China into an electronics manufacturing service superpower practically overnight.

Unfortunately, a few years down the line, the honeymoon glow has definitely begun to fade. Companies are now discovering that those “other problems” are more costly than they initially figured. Deficits in offshore assembly manufacturing processes have created a situation where far too many electronics manufactured are of poor quality, with questionable components in the build, and with very large post-sale support costs as a result.

Aside from the well-established brands like Sony and Samsung, “Asian electronics” have
nearly become synonymous in the public mind with “cheap electronics.” That, in our opinion, is a direct result of the earlier emphasis on low prices over all other concerns: it's a short-sighted view that has led to some fairly predictable long-term consequences, such as China's now rapidly-growing cost of living.

So, what's the alternative? Looking at the big picture and selecting the assembly manufacturing service that doesn't just put products together. You want one that puts processes together.

The Processes Behind Assembly Manufacturing Services

The best outsourced electronics assembly services are the ones that focus on delivering the best product and best experience at every step of the way. That's how you put a product on the shelves that you can be proud of, and that your customers will want to buy.

The processes begin at the design level. A good assembly service can do more than simply put things together for you. They can review your design, analyze it, and improve on it. Good electronics engineers can often take a good design and make it better, reducing component use and increasing reliability.

Speaking of component use, that's another key area to consider. Offshore electronics firms have serious issues with their supply pipelines, with low-grade counterfeit components making their way into designs. Most of this is due to pure graft: local managers substituting fake parts and pocketing the difference.

Without robust supply chain management, you have very little way of knowing whether that media player you're making is being produced with Sony components, or "Somy" instead. Going with an assembly manufacturing firm that keeps tabs on their supply chain meansPCB-assembly-manufacturing having a more reliable product, and reducing your post-sale support costs.

Even when it comes to the manufacturing itself, there can be a lot of variety. The best manufacturing services have high-quality production lines that can handle multiple builds at once, giving you more variety in your product line. Low-grade manufacturers often cannot handle high-complexity orders, although they may not tell you that before you sign on the dotted line.

Finally, consider post-sale support issues. Don't you want an electronics manufacturer who will stand by their products with in-house fulfillment services? With a low-cost foreign firm, you will likely be on your own when it comes to supporting the product you've released. Modern electronics assembly companies can handle post-sale support, repairs, and product replacement.

Expecting such services also places added burden on your manufacturer to do it right the first time. If they are the ones handling replacement part shipping, they'll have a lot more reason to keep an eye on quality.

Put It ALL Together

Don't be short-sighted when selecting an electronics assembly manufacturing firm. Look for a provider offering multiple process-based solutions, and you'll be more likely to receive a product you're proud to have on store shelves.

Topics: assembly manufacturing, manufacturing services, assembly manufacturing services, assembly electronic