For at least a decade, it's been "common wisdom" in electronics retail that you should look overseas for PCB prototype assembly and later manufacturing. However, there's less and less reason to do so, and plenty of great reasons to keep your PCB prototype assembly right here in the USA!
As NPR reported earlier this year, the "reshoring" trend is still going strong, and it's due directly to major market shifts, along with realizations that overseas manufacturing wasn't quite the bargain it was sold as.
Four Reasons To Reshore Your PCB Prototyping And Assembly
1 - Rising Costs
China is a Macro Economics lesson in a nutshell: What do you get when thousands of companies all flood into a single country with money and jobs? The answer: Inflation!
China's cost of living has been growing at a steady 15% for the last several years and there's no sign of it slowing - especially now that China is claiming to be the largest economy in the world. The very practical real-world result is that many of the manufacturing centers that were dirt-cheap 10-20 years ago are now in a price range comparable to most of the rest of the developed world.
For that matter, it's not just China. India -another popular offshoring destination- is suffering similar growing pains with rising costs of living but stagnating wages.
The inevitable effect of any "gold rush" of offshoring into a country is the negation of its price benefits after a few years.
2 - Poor Parts Control
Eastern manufacturing centers have become notorious for having low QC standards and -at times- fairly rampant corruption. It's very difficult for a company to have proper oversight. In fact, even the United States Department of Defense couldn't stop Chinese fakes from making it into their supply line.
An American company, using the latest in product tracking technologies, can provide true end-to-end data demonstrating the reliability of their supply chain. It increases the cost slightly, but it's a bargain compared to opening up a product and discovering that it's got an "official" Imtel CPU.
3 - Better Oversight And Communications
Another of the problems with offshore manufacturing that no one paid enough attention to were the communications issues. It's bad enough having employees in the field who are having to make reports at 3AM, local time, so they can videoconference with an office in the States. You'll be lucky if that local guy has any idea what's truly going on behind the scenes.
Asian mega-manufacturer Foxconn, for example, has been caught multiple times leading overseers down a garden path while hiding the truth of their operations.
And every time they got caught, you know who was blamed for it in the media? Apple. If your manufacturer behaves badly, you are the one who'll get the bad press.
Or, with a domestic facility, you're nearly in the same time zone, you speak the same language as all their workers, and they're working within the US legal framework and its superior regulatory capacity.
4 - Shorter Supply Lines
Finally, think about logistics of keeping manufacturing local. Sure, you aren't sourcing the cheapest possible components from someplace overseas... and you also aren't paying to ship them from someplace overseas. In many instances we've seen, a big-picture cost analysis of offshore supplying shows that the per-unit price savings vanish in the face of shipping and fuel costs.
America produces virtually every product known to man. There's no need to go overseas for components. They're right here at home, and the short supply lines will save you money on production at every stage of the process.
Keep Your PCB Assembly Local!
A modern American electronics production facility can bring you better products, better oversight, and better communications at prices equivalent to most of the popular offshoring destinations. It makes your life easier, eliminates messy problems, and helps keep America's economy strong.
Contact ZenTech today for a free manufacturing consultation!
photo credit: ッ Zach Hoeken ッ via photopin cc