Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

7 Reasons Contract Manufacturers Help You Stand Out

Posted by Stephanie Weaver on Wed, Mar 01, 2017 @ 04:34 PM

Contract Manufacturing

From time to time, we all need a little bit of help. As a business owner, though, you may tend to pride yourself on your independence, and have a strong desire to keep all of your processes in-house. But what if soliciting design, assembly, testing, and fulfillment services could actually help you to grow your company an enable to you bring in more cash? That would probably grab your interest, and it has, indeed, peaked the curiosity of other small to midsize electronics businesses. A growing number of companies are turning to contract manufacturing services as a means of improving their own existing business models. Could this be a viable solution for your needs? If you're on the fence, take a look at 6 of the many ways in which a contract manufacturer could help to improve the development of your electronics.

1. Knowledge & Experience

Who wouldn't love to be able to take advantage of talented industry professionals with a great deal of knowledge and experience without actually having to pay their salary? That's exactly what you get when you make the decision to work with a contract manufacturer. You'll be able to obtain design and manufacturing input from a team of experts who have been working in PCB engineering, assembly, and repair for years. This will help your own staff to learn and grow, while also enabling you to offer a superior product to your buyers.

2. Design Efficiency

One of the primary reasons that board production can get expensive is inefficient design schematics. Although your engineers may be very good at what they do, there's always room for improvement, and it's always a good idea to consider someone else's opinion as a means of looking at things from a new point of view. By taking advantage of a contract manufacturer's electronics engineering design team, you can work together to determine how to improve your design efficiency, reducing the size of boards and the number of costly components required.

3. Careful Testing

There's nothing worse than throwing away thousands upon thousands of dollars in time, labor, and parts because a design wasn't properly tested through simulations processes, or because a large batch order was assembled without first testing a prototype. Although circuit board testing can be time-consuming, it's an extremely important part of the production process. By working with a contract manufacturing company, someone else can shoulder the burden of testing for you, so that you can focus on other tasks.

4. Superior Technologies

Wouldn't it be great if you could take advantage of the same design, assembly, and production technologies as your largest competitors? While it may be easy for the "big guys" to spend money on the latest and greatest equipment, it's not always a possibility for you. When you partner with a contract manufacturing service, though, you are able to tap into these valuable resources without being required to invest in the technology, house it, or maintain it. Suddenly, you're much more competitive in the consumer marketplace!

5. Cut Material Costselectronic board design

In addition to helping you improve design efficiency and reduce your spending on expensive manufacturing equipment, an experienced contract manufacturer can actually help you to scale back the cost of components and parts. Through developing long-term relationships with reliable suppliers, a contract manufacturer can get the best deals on parts, which translates to less spending for you, as well.

6. Excellent Fulfillment Services 

Just because you offer a warranty on your boards and products doesn't mean that you should throw away money on replacement units when something goes wrong. When you have a contract manufacturing company on your team, you can address problems in a more cost-efficient manner. Through careful troubleshooting, your contract manufacturer can pinpoint the problem. Often, it can be traced to a single failing component which can then be replaced for a fraction of the cost to replace. 

7. Highly Certified

Most electronics contract manufacturers are highly certified in their fields. Certifications such as AS9100,
DD2345 and ISO13485 demonstrate the commitment to excellence that a potential contract manufacturer has. Certifications provide a level of (objective) accountability that, first and foremost, protects you the customer. Certifications ensure that the contract manufacturer remains compliant with current industry standards, regulations, and best-practices which directly impact the quality and reliability of the products and services the electronics contract manufacturer builds.

How could a contract manufacturer help you?



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Topics: assembly manufacturing, electronics contract manufacturing, assembly manufacturing firm

The US Assembly Manufacturing Sector Continues Its Solid Growth

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Tue, Jun 09, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

Assembly-Manufacturing-2Overall trends in US assembly manufacturing point to America continuing to be a strong player in the global electronics manufacturing industry.  

The latest numbers on industry trends at first look a bit bad for domestic electronics assembly.  After nearly uninterrupted growth for most of last year, there was a slight dip in reported shipments for Q1 2015.  Numbers are still higher than they were this time last year, however.  It's also not hard to chalk the decline down to simply being in the post-Christmas season.  Just picking one representative industry, it's clear that smartphone sales take a big dip in Q1 pretty much every year.

The clear bright side here is that even as shipments in Q1 slumped, reported orders shot upwards by nearly ten billion dollars in just a couple months, bringing orders to the highest level in years.  That means we're going to be seeing big increases in domestically-assembled shipments throughout the rest of 2015.

Why are electronics companies continuing to reshore their work?  It's not hard to find reasons why.

It's No Surprise US Electronics Assembly/Manufacturing Keep Growing

1 - Short, flexible supply lines

Product churn among consumers and businesses continues to grow, and functional product lifespans continue to shrink.  It's now commonplace for consumers to upgrade hardware annually, and many businesses are doing likewise in their attempts to keep their network up-to-date.  

This means any electronics producer needs to be consistently on top of tech trends, and able to deploy products with shorter lead times.  This isn't compatible with outsourcers who span the globe with supply lines that could take six+ months to reconfigure.  

When everything is domestic, the supply lines can be fast  and flexible to meet ever-changing market needs.

2 - Guaranteed components and IP protectionsPCB-Repair-Services3

There are a significant and widely-acknowledged problems with Chinese manufacturing, both in terms of guaranteeing the authenticity of components and in terms of IP theft.  Direct oversight of overseas manufacturers is nearly impossible, and their supply lines are rife with corruption.

America -which enjoys some of the strongest IP protections in the world- has been working hard to prevent these problems.  Trusted US manufacturers use computer-controlled per-component tracking, such as QR codes or RFID systems, specifically to ensure every piece of electronics is genuine.  Likewise, those strong American IP protections ensure your designs remain your designs.

3 - All-in-one service options

Among the many hidden costs in extensive overseas outsourcing is that nearly all the contracted firms are specialists, providing exactly one service.  This can easily create a web of third-party hands on the product, none of which having much direct contact with the other.  Design happens in one firm, assembly in another, documentation in a third, and post-sale support handled by yet another virtualized service.

Ever hear the old one about too many cooks spoiling the soup?

American electronics manufacturers have the ability to keep everything under one roof.  Their designers have direct access to the plants making the equipment.  Tech support reps can query the engineers or leave feedback on issues that have been discovered.  Predictive systems can optimize your parts buys based on tested failure rates.  This saves money and creates a far better customer experience as well.

American electronics manufacturing is on the rise.  To learn more about the benefits to your company, contact ZenTech today

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, assembly manufacturer

A Great Electronic Product Demands Great Assembly Manufacturing

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 06:00 PM

freight-routing-optionsThere are more electronic devices entering the market today than at any other time in history.  With the current boom in global manufacturing and shipping, companies all around the globe are jumping into the electronics game.  Regional companies are now looking to go global, as well, with low-cost overseas brands looking to carve a niche for themselves.

This means that if your company wants to be part of this booming market, you need to stand out from the crowd.  At this point, cheap electronics are ubiquitous and widely-derided.  People want to purchase gadgets that are reliable, and a large majority of consumers are now doing plenty of online research before making purchases.

Basically, lowest-bidder assembly manufacturing simply can't cut it in today's market.    You need an assembly manufacturing service that can create the products that people actually want to buy.

Four Ways Superior Electronics Manufacturing Creates Superior Products

1 - Refined Designs

There are plenty of factories -especially overseas- which simply churn out products based on the schematics you provide, and that's it.  What you submit is what you get.

The issue here is that when you're working with the newest in manufacturing technologies, the schematics can often be redesigned or revised to take advantage of those technologies.  An assembly partner with design services can take a good design and make it better, using fewer or smaller components.

2 - Software Services

These days, there's basically no such thing as an electronic device that doesn't have onboard software running it.  This is something that's often overlooked, especially by companies looking for the cheapest possible solution for manufacturing.  

They use assembly services that merely build the hardware, then have to find third-party solutions for creating the software.

However, this is inefficient and greatly increases the chances of having buggy software onboard.  Bad software can quickly ruin the usability of otherwise good hardware.  So, it makes a lot more sense to find an electronics partner who will handle the software in-house, allowing software and hardware designers to share information and build better products.

3 - Extensive Prototypingamerican-pcb-assembly

Prototyping, of course, is always needed to ensure that your schematics can result in a working product.  However, in today's market, it's a bit more complicated than that.  Most consumers now want a range of options in their devices, such as different sizes and colors.  One-size-fits-all options rarely gain traction.

So prototyping becomes doubly important.  It doesn't just ensure that your product works.  It allows you to experiment with form factors and layouts, ultimately creating a range of product variations based on the same underlying technology.  

4 - Post-Sale Support

No electronic device run, even from the best of global manufacturers, will be 100% free of defect.  There will always be issues coming up in the weeks and months after release, and your customers will want proper support.

In fact, research has found that post-sale support has a higher impact on consumer perceptions and loyalty than the initial purchase experience.  It's counter-intuitive, but a customer who has a problem with a product and then receives excellent service will have better brand loyalty than a problem-free customer.  Why?  Because you've demonstrated your loyalty to them.

So, partnering with an assembly manufacturer who also offers post-sale support and repair services is an excellent long-term investment in your product.

ZenTech can bring you the best in modern manufacturing, right here in America, with all the services your customers want.  Contact us today for more information

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, electronic assembly

8 Things to Look for in an Electronics Manufacturing Service

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

electronics repair serviceAre you looking for a superior electronics manufacturing service to contract with in the new year? If so, you're probably already well aware that there are numerous businesses that offer design and manufacturing services for you to choose from. Being able to differentiate between the best manufacturers and those that are sub-par, though, can initially seem tricky. If you're not exactly sure what it is that you should be looking for, you may not even know where to begin in narrowing down your options. In order to help you make the best and most educated decision possible, we've put together these eight factors that you should insist upon before hiring an electronics manufacturing service.    

1. Industry experience  

First and foremost, it is always in your best interest to hire a contract manufacturing company that has an extensive history in the electronics industry. Those businesses that are well-established can be counted upon to provide high quality work, and will take pride in each board that they design and produce. Don't hesitate to ask your prospective manufacturer about how long they have been in business, and what their criteria is for hiring employees.  

2. Design capabilities  

In addition to providing customers with an electronics manufacturing service, your outsource partner should also have the ability to help you throughout your design processes. Whether you are starting completely from scratch, or simply need a fresh set of eyes to review your current specs, the best manufacturing companies can help you to streamline your plans and make them as efficient and effective as possible.  

3. Advanced technologies  

What type of tools, machinery, and equipment does your prospective electronics manufacturing service utilize? It's in your best interest to choose to give your business to a company that takes advantage of all of the latest technologies to ensure that your products can be developed in such a way that they remain highly competitive in the marketplace.  

4. Industry compliance  

Never work with a contract manufacturing company that does not adhere to the most current industry standards. In addition to complying with various industry rules and regulations for design and manufacture, your partner company should be willing to comply with your specific standards for production.  

5. Environmentally responsible  

The best electronics manufacturing service providers will always take the environment into consideration. Make sure that your prospective manufacturer is Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant and can help you convert any of your board's specific designs to an RoHS compliant plan. Not only will this protect our earth, but it will also improve your image with your customers.  

6. Product testing  electronics industry

Your contract manufacturing service should never be satisfied with simply producing a batch order of PC boards. Testing should always be completed to ensure that each unit produced is up to par, and is highly functional and performs as expected. Testing the products for any design flaws or issues can help you to analyze trends and catch major production errors without causing you to waste an excessive amount of time or money.  

7. Supply chain management  

Not all supply chain solutions will work for all electronics companies. Because of this, your contract manufacturer should have sourcing agreements for components and commodities from all around the globe, and be willing to meet your needs pertaining to contract requirements, preferred vendors, sourcing restrictions, etc.   

8. Fulfillment Services  

It's never a good idea to choose an electronics manufacturing service that does not take care of your needs post-production. A great company will offer fulfillment services including troubleshooting any faulty PC boards and making the necessary repairs before returning them from their depot. In the end, this will save you a lot of time and money on labor or on warranty replacement units.    

Get the very most out of your electronics manufacturing service in 2014. By insisting on this set of criteria, you can easily pick out the best from the rest.

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, American based product assembly, electronics manufacturing service

With Each Year, There's More Reason To Return To American PBC Assembly

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Mon, Feb 02, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

electronic manufacturing companyIt's no secret that reshoring is on the rise, with an increasing number of companies - even some of the biggest - bringing their manufacturing services back home to America.

While an Asia-based PCB assembly manufacturer may still be a bit less expensive overall, they're quickly being displaced by much more robust domestic manufacturing that provides services overseas factories simply aren't able to offer.

If you simply need a single product pressed quickly, looking overseas might do the trick.  However, in an increasing number of cases, a domestic partner makes far more sense.

Five Times When You Need A Domestic PCB Assembly Manufacturer 

1 - You don't have a finished design.

Most overseas electronics manufacturers take a "what you see is what you get" approach to electronics creation.  You send them schematics, and they send back whatever you told them to make.  

That's fine if a company has an expert electronics designer on-staff, but it creates barriers for firms that want to get into electronics production without having in-house expertise.  American electronics partners can take an unfinished design, or even just an idea, and prototype it until it's ready for prime time.

2 - You're in a fluid market.

While some industries have avoided this (so far), an increasing number of markets have become fluid and unpredictable in recent years.  The rise of the Internet and online consumer groups has greatly accelerated the "product churn" rate in electronics, with fads coming and going faster than most can even keep up with.

Overseas electronics firms tend to have lengthy supply lines, and much longer delays in making changes to a production run.  Sometimes the supply lines will be contracted for months in advance, hindering your ability to stop using particular components. 

Near-sourcing your PCB assembly manufacturing greatly reduces the time needed to change a product or release a new version to take advantage of recent market shifts.

3 - You care about your consumer reputation.

Another issue a lot of companies don't consider is that "cheap Chinese manufacturing" has a much different connotation for a lot of consumers.  Products coming out of countries with low-cost manufacturing tend to have much poorer QC than from domestic partners, and customers will actively avoid products seen as being "knockoffs."  

Plus, there's an increasing PR burden associated with overseas work.  Just look at the endless negative media attention that Apple receives due to the various abuses at their main supplier, FoxConn.  

The end users don't care about subcontracting.  When problems with a device's manufacturing hit the news, they blame the name that's on the box.  assembly manufacturing

4 - You want a wide range of products.

It's very rare these days for a company to only release one version of a piece of hardware.  Customers generally demand more choice than that in their electronics, asking for a range of custom options to fit various niche buyer groups.

Modern American PCB assembly manufacturers have assembly lines which can capably handle a high mix of different products, while still sharing the same facilities and parts sourcing.  They can optimize the production processes to minimize the extra costs associated with having multiple product variants.

5 - You lack product support services.

Sure, everyone's going to virtual call centers these days, but is someone at home in their bathrobe going to know the ins-and-outs of your products?  An increasing number of US electronics assemblers are adding post-sale support to their service range.

After all, no one is going to know the product better than they do, and they have direct access to components for doing repairs.  Plus, your domestic customers never have to wait for overseas shipments.   The result is post-sale support that's better, faster, and cheaper.

Today's American manufacturing brings more services, better value, and -most importantly- satisfied customers.  Contact ZenTech today about how domestic manufacturing can take your product around the world.

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, American based product assembly, pcb assembly manufacturer

What To Look For In PCB Repair Services

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

PCB Repair ServicesIf you haven't heard, the electronics manufacturing market is shifting rapidly!  In response to the cut-rates being offered in developing nations, domestic facilities are now adding services you simply cannot get overseas.  These can be extremely cost-effective, and add significant value to local manufacturing choices.

Foremost among these would be repair and fulfillment services.  Post-sale support is one of the most costly areas of any electronics production, and it's pure sunk costs.  Any savings in this area will only help your bottom line, and potentially help customer retention as well.

What You Need In An Electronics Manufacturer With Repair Services

1 - "Invisible" Call Centers

Virtualized call centers are so standard in business that few people even stop to think about where their call might be going.  As long as everyone answering the phone pretends they're part of the same company, the customer neither knows nor cares.

So first and foremost, they have to have the capabilities to take your support calls while answering the phone as your company.  Customers should never know they're calling a third-party.

2 - Guaranteed Supply Lines

One of the biggest problems with post-sale fulfillment in overseas production comes from the supply lines being used.  It's extremely hard to oversee foreign manufacturing to ensure the exact right parts are always being ordered, not to mention the issues keeping counterfeits away.

Plus, if there's a defect or a run on a particular component, you could find yourself waiting months for replacements to arrive.  Those overseas transportation systems can be a real detriment to speedy response.

3 - Component-Level Diagnostics

One byproduct of all the offshore production is that many companies simply don't bother trying to repair anything.  If even a single component goes bad, they merely send out an entire new device because they lack the facilities to repair it properly.

It says something about the actual cost-effectiveness of overseas manufacturing when such a clearly wasteful process is seen as the least-bad option.

Instead, if your domestic manufacturing center is doing your tech work, it's simple for them to do component-level diagnostics and actually fix the product.  You'll lose far less money sending out replacement products that could be sold instead.

4 - Testing And Reporting AbilitiesPCB Services

A third-party call center hired to tech your products does not have any real incentive to do more than the bare minimum.  They're not likely to be collecting detailed information on problems encountered.  As such, even major defects can be concealed from you until they become a huge (and usually very public) problem.

When your manufacturing partner is the same one making the products, they have every incentive to identify defects and fix them ASAP.  If they've got testing facilities onsite, they can be proactively investigating issues as customers report them.

You get faster revisions to your products, which minimizes the damage any unforeseen defect can cause.

5 - A True Customer Focus

If your customers are happy, they buy more of your products.  If they're buying more of your products, you're ordering more products from your manufacturer.

A quality electronics assembler with customer support options understands this.  If they make customers happy, that directly brings THEM more business right alongside your new business.  Again, this gives them an inherent motivation to treat your customers well and increase your repeat business.

New customers cost 5x as much to acquire as it costs to retain customers.  Quality customer service is a no-brainer from a long-term standpoint.

Don't Cheat Yourself When Selecting An Electronics Manufacturer!

You really can get the best of both worlds with domestic manufacturing:  Affordable high-quality electronics, with support and fulfillment services to match.  If you're still dealing with the months-long supply chains and language barriers inherent with overseas production,

To learn more about the benefits of reshoring your manufacturing processes, contact ZenTech today for a free cost-savings consultation!  


Electronic Interconnect Cabling Whitepaper from Zentech

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, contract manufacturing company, PCB Repair Services

When Shouldn't You Use SMT Production Methods?

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Fri, Jan 16, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

SMT Production MethodOne of the most basic choices any electronics assembler has to make is whether to build the circuit board using Through-Hole Mounting (THM) or Surface Mount Technologies (SMT).  

THM is the older of the two processes, and is exactly what it sounds like: The circuit board has holes physically drilled into it, which are used to thread the wires through.  The components end up on top, with the underside holding all the wiring.  If you ever built a hobby radio using a breadboard and components, that was a basic THM design.

SMT production is newer and has largely replaced THM in most manufacturing processes.  Rather than threading wires through, SMT uses an innovative glue that's electrically conductive and therefore also works as solder.  Components can be stuck directly onto the board, plus SMT can utilize both sides of a board for parts placement.

While SMT is generally recommended, there are still a few applications where THM is still the superior option.

# Times You Should Use Through-Hole Mounting Over SMT Production

1 - High-Stress Usage

Glue is inherently brittle once it's set, and tends to respond very badly to mechanical stress, especially twisting and pulling.  This means that it's a poor choice for a component or board that will be directly manipulated.  

Connector ports are an excellent example of this.  In real life, people rarely pull the plugs out at a perfect right angle to the board.  They'll almost always be applying some leverage up or down, or just outright yanking at the cable. This will quickly break down the bonds holding the SMT components together.

SMT-based connectors will frequently fail in such a scenario.  It should be utilized when the user will NOT be directly working with or manipulating the internal components.

2 - High Heat or High Electric Load

The glue that SMT uses does not stand up to high heat or high electrical loads.  This is probably the #1 source of failure in SMT production, and something any good electronics assembler should be watching out for.  The device gets too hot, and the glue/solder melts.

 Devices that are likely to generate a lot of heat without good ventilation, as well as those doing high-capacity electrical work such as transformers, should utilize THM processes.  This is, as a side note, why AC adapters are usually so big and hefty.  They have to be to stand up to the load they're bearing.

3 - Children's ProductsSurface Mounted Technology

In some cases, THM would be a better choice for products designed for children.  Because it stands up to mechanical wear-and-tear better than SMT, it's going to survive the roughhousing a child tends to engage in.  Also, the bulky nature of THM isn't so much a factor here, since children's products are often oversized to compensate for their lack of developed motor skills.

The downside, of course, are the higher costs involved here... but if you're concerned about your reputation and designing quality kid's products, it's often the safer choice from a usage and support perspective.

Talk To Your Manufacturer Before Committing To A Process

While Surface-Mounting is usually the best option 90% of the time or so, there are still applications where Through-Hole production will produce a better or more reliable product.  Look for a vendor who uses both processes, and find one who'll seriously talk about the cost-benefit value of each method.

Even a single poorly-designed product can sink a growing electronics firm.  A vendor who gives you the most options is the one which can ensure every product you design is killer.

Want to know more?  Contact ZenTech today for a free consultation on your upcoming manufacturing plans!  



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Topics: assembly manufacturing, consumer electronics, smt production

Proper Repair Services Will Cut Your Assembly Manufacturing Costs

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Thu, Jan 01, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

electronic manufacturing servicesIf you're not looking to repair defective equipment, and send out replacements instead, you could be throwing away a lot of money along with the circuit boards!

In the past, repair services were difficult to supply and coordinate unless they were already in-house.  As a result, companies that used outsourced assembly manufacturing services tended to use a "fire and forget" approach to warranty claims on defective equipment:  Send out an entirely new circuit board, or potentially an entirely new product, and scrap the defective item.

It's obvious that this is inefficient, but the logistical challenges in supporting a repair operation were too significant.  However, as reshoring continues to grow in popularity, domestic assembly manufacturing firms can make actual repair jobs a reality again.

Four Ways Local Assembly Manufacturing Also Lowers Support Costs

1 - Offsite Call Centers Staffed By Actual Experts

We don't need to go into the litany of reasons that most off-site tech support tends to deliver mediocre performance at best.  The difficulty in finding expert staff is one of the biggest barriers to effective and customer-friendly post-sale support.

Well, who can provide more expert support than the group that designed the circuit or product?

Virtualization technology has made it possible for assembly services to provide their own post-sale support.  They have direct access to the actual component supply lines, schematics, and potentially even the original designer.  Domestic assembly services can now also provide technical support more robust than any third party could offer.

That pays off in lower tech support costs and happier customers.

2 - Certifiable Rework

A great number of common manufacturing flaws in circuity can be fixed quite easily, and often involve something as simple as a connector that needs an extra dab of solder.  The issue with doing this sort of rework is being able to actually guarantee afterward that the product was up-to-spec.  This is another reason companies tended to simply replace products.

However, the original PCB assembly operation would be in exactly the position to make that certification.  You can be sure that repaired units are up to spec.

There's no actual need to replace a $100 component if a $1 capacitor is at fault.  Certifiable repair jobs allow you to realize these cost savings while still being assured the repair will be done correctly the first time.

3 - Ongoing Product Refinementspcb assembly

Few products are truly perfect when they first hit market, and all of the most popular electronics lines in history have gone through multiple revisions over the years. 

By allowing your assembly manufacturer to handle post-sale support, you can vastly cut costs on this process.  The manufacturers and designers will be the first one to hear of potential long-term flaws, customer suggestions, or any other issues that come up during tech support.  The manufacturer will understand what customers want, and they'll also know what's possible to implement.

This makes it much easier to make consumer-focused refinements to future generations of the product. 

4 - Faster Turnarounds

If most of your business is American, then it just makes sense to keep the manufacturing local as well.  The supply lines are shorter, the fuel costs are lower, and -most importantly for customer service- the turnaround times are faster.  Your customers don't have to wait weeks for a product to arrive from China.

When consumers are increasingly demanding faster and more personalized service, a local combined manufacturing and support partner can deliver what they want.

Local Assembly Manufacturing And Support Services Save Money

Don't let your manufacturing costs get out of control due to wasteful post-sale support.  With the right partner by your side, you can offer certified repair jobs that save you money while maximizing consumer satisfaction at the same time.

To learn more, contact Zentech Manufacturing to discuss the potential cost-savings from reshoring.  


Electronic Interconnect Cabling Whitepaper from Zentech

Topics: assembly manufacturing, electronics repair services, electronic design

Domestic Assembly Solutions Go Beyond Mere PCB Assembly!

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

 Domestic Assembly SolutionsPerhaps it's due to the last decades' rush for outsourcing, but a lot of people think that an electronics assembly partner is nothing but a hired plant for stamping out parts.  While this may be true for some cut-rate overseas plants, the truth is that domestic assembly solutions can be your all-in-one source for bringing new products to market.

When the assembly plant is local -or at least in the same hemisphere- you can collaborate much more closely with them, working on designs and improvements to create better products.  Robust ongoing support and even post-sale services are usually options as well.

Reshoring is becoming a major force in today's manufacturing, and there's an entire list of reasons why...

Reasons To Hire Assembly Solutions That Are Close To Home

1 - More certifications.

Most American plants have better oversight, tighter workplace regulations, and more certifications in place than their overseas counterparts.  You can choose manufacturers with legitimate industry certifications that guarantee their products meet or exceed every demand you've placed on them.

Plus, there's the matter of the workforce.  Have you noticed that every time investigators find maltreatment at FoxConn, their customers pay the price?  The lack of regulation in overseas business make it nearly impossible for an American company to truly know what's going on.  In today's business world, that's a recipe for ongoing PR nightmares.

Just ask Apple.

2 - Full Design Services

Most overseas assembly plants have a very Jack Webb attitude towards manufacturing: Just the schematics, ma'am.  You give them plans and they give you products.  That's it.

A domestic partner, one you can communicate with in the same time zone, can work with you directly to refine existing designs or even create entirely new ones.  They have specialists on staff looking to make every design better based on the equipment they utilize.

Assembly solutions using state-of-the-art equipment and modern SMT processes can usually optimize your designs in the R&D phase to take them beyond your own engineers' dreams.

3 - Extensive Prototyping and Testing

Prototyping is one of the more expensive aspects of product development, but it's absolutely necessary to create a quality product today.  Users tend to be, well, highly creative in how they use their electronics, and you need to be prepared for mistreatment.  

Plus, the target audience makes a big difference here.  Products aimed at children need to be better-built than products for adults, as a simple example.  If you're making a video game for five year olds, will it stand up to the abuse they can dish out without becoming a safety hazard?

Good prototyping and testing services guarantee that can happen.  They let you release a product with confidence that it will live up to warranty guarantees, and establish your reputation as a quality manufacturer.

4 - Optimized Parts Fulfillmentelectronic design

Another area where a full-service assembly service pays off is in parts ordering and fulfillment.  Based on tests, you're going to end up with a good idea of where the "weak spots" in the design are, or components which are more likely than others to need replacing.

Based on this, your manufacturing partner can help recommend parts stocking and pre-ordering which will guarantee you can fulfill warranty issues at a minimum of cost.

Some assembly services even offer full post-sale customer support since, after all, no one can diagnose product problems better than the group that created the product.

5 - Short Supply Lines, Faster Turnaround

Domestic partners work with domestic suppliers to create short supply lines which save time and fuel throughout the process.  Customers can get units or parts more quickly, while everyone pays less in shipping.  This also makes it much easier to shift those supply lines, if your needs change.

Overseas production tends to lock people into months-long supply chains, which can become a serious detriment in a fast-changing world.

Want more information?  Contact ZenTech today for a free consultation!


Electronic Interconnect Cabling Whitepaper from Zentech
photo credit: ッ Zach Hoeken ッ via photopin cc

Topics: assembly manufacturing, assembly solutions, assembly electronic

Through Hole And Surface Mounted Technology - What is the Difference

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Over the past several decades, surface mounted technology (SMT) has grown in popularity andSurface Mounted Technology has widely replaced through-hole technology. But why is SMT so preferable to through-hole mounting, and can through-hole still be relevant in certain applications? By taking a few moment's to learn about both methods, you'll gain a thorough understanding of the unique characteristics of the two, the key differences between them, and what it is that makes SMT the preferred option.

Through-Hole Technology

For years, through-hole technology was utilized in the construction of nearly all printed circuit boards (PCBs). This particular mounting scheme involves the use of leads on electrical components, which are then inserted into holes that were drilled on the PCB and soldered to pads situated on the opposite side. Through-hole mounting is extremely reliable, as it provides strong mechanical bonds, however, the additional drilling makes the production of boards significantly more expensive. Additionally, the presence of holes in the PCB create limitations in terms of the available routing area for signal traces on the layers which are immediately beneath the top layer on multi-layer boards. These issues are just two of the many reasons that surface mounted technology became so popular in the 1980s.

Surface Mounted Technology

In lieu of drilling holes, SMT enables electrical components to be mounted, or directly placed, onto the surface of a PCB. Generally speaking, SMT components are smaller than their through-hole counterparts. This is due to the fact that SMT components either have smaller leads, or no leads at all. Because the PCB of a surface-mount devices (SMDs) does not require as many drilled holes, and the components are more compact, higher circuit densities are possible on smaller boards. This is especially important, as today's electronics are growing more complex and more compact. Additionally, surface mounted technology is typically less expensive than through-hole mounting.

Major Differences

Although there are many differences between through-hole and surface mounted technology, there are some key distinctions such as:

  • SMT resolves the space problems that are common to through-hole mounting.

  • In SMT, components do not have leeds and are directly mounted to the PCB, whereas through-hole components require lead wires that pass through drilled holes.

  • The pin count is higher in SMT than in through-hole technology.

  • Because components are more compact, the packing density achieved through SMT is much higher than in through-hole mounting.

  • SMT components are typically less expensive than their through-hole counterparts.

  • SMT lends itself to assembly automation, making it far more suitable for high volume production at lower costs than through-hole production.

  • pcb board repairAlthough SMT is typically cheaper on the production side, the capital required for investing in machinery is higher than for through-hole technology.

  • SMT makes it easier to acquire higher circuit speeds because of its reduced size.

  • The design, production, skill, and technology that SMT demands is quite advanced as compared to through-hole technology.

  • Through-hole mounting is typically more desirable than SMT in terms of large, bulky components, components that are subject to frequent mechanical stress, or for high-power and high-voltage parts.

Although there are scenarios in which through-hole mounting may still be utilized in modern PCB assembly, for the most part, surface mounted technology is superior.

Selecting a Vendor Who Offers Surface Mounted Technology

Because the costs to purchase the equipment and machinery required for SMT is so high, many smaller electronics companies find it difficult to take advantage of this efficient mounting technology. If this is the case, it is in your best interest to seek out a contract manufacturer who can offer these types of services. This enables you to incorporate SMT into the design and production of your PCBs without being required to purchase or maintain expensive equipment. Be sure to select a reputable vendor who stays on top of the latest and greatest technological developments, and is familiar with all of the best practices for manufacturing complex devices.

Are you taking advantage of SMT?

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Topics: assembly manufacturing, consumer electronics, smt production