Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

Things To Look For In Electronics Manufacturing Services

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Electronics Manufacturing

These days, it's not uncommon for small to mid-size electronics businesses to seek out the help of third-party manufacturing services in order to design and/or assemble their printed circuit boards (PCBs). In fact, a quick web search would enable you to connect with any number of contract manufacturing companies who would be more than happy to obtain your business. Still, how can you be sure of which company will do the best job? After all, the assembly of your PCBs is the most significant factor behind your product's performance. Choosing the right contract manufacturer could actually make or break your business. Unless you know what to look for, you could be feeling confused and overwhelmed by your options. Fortunately, there's a formula for finding the best of the best. Here's a quick breakdown of what you should be looking for from your manufacturing services. 

Experienced Staff

One of the main things that you should be looking for in your third-party manufacturing service is experience - not only from an owner/operator standpoint, but you must also inquire about the experience of the staff employed by the company. Don't hesitate to ask about hiring standards, qualification levels, industry experience, etc. This will let you know whether or not you can place your full confidence in the business.  

Design Capabilities

It's always in your best interest to look for a contract manufacturing service that not only offers assistance with the assembly and production process, but that can also assist you with board design. Even if you employ knowledgable and skilled engineers, they are still only human and can overlook common errors. Introducing a fresh set of eyes can help you to pinpoint problem areas that might reduce product efficiency or cost you extra money.  

Advanced Equipment

Many smaller businesses struggle with the aspect of purchasing, housing, and maintaining assembly and manufacture equipment. As a result, they tend to feel overwhelmed by the competition, and struggle to keep up. If you can partner with a manufacturing service that maintains the latest and greatest in design and manufacture technologies, though, you can take advantage of this equipment without spending a dime.  

Testing Services

The last thing you want is to have a large batch of boards produced only to find that there's a flaw or issue that inhibits it from performing the way that it was expected to. It's important that you find a design and manufacturing service that will test out concepts before production, and that will test post-assembled boards before introducing them to your clientele. 

Supplier RelationshipsElectronics Manufacturing Services

You should always look for a  manufacturing service that has been in the business for quite some time and who has been able to develop positive relationships with suppliers. This will ensure that the manufacturer is able to get the best prices on board components, thus lowering the overall cost to you. In addition, a relationship with a supplier will ensure that the supplier will have an interest in learning your needs and requirements for the long-run, making things easier and less time-consuming for everyone.  

All-American

It can be tempting to give your business to an offshore company due to low prices, but remember that if the cost seems too good to be true, it probably is. Many overseas companies don't comply with the same industry standards for product safety and labor rights. It's smarter to work with an American-based company that will take care of your needs in a way that's safe and legal.  

Fulfillment Services

Stop wasting money on warranty replacements. When you find a company that's willing to troubleshoot board problems, make repairs, and ship back to customers, you know they're a winner.      

There's no reason for you to settle, or select a manufacturing service that you're not completely confident with. When you know what you should be expecting from a reliable, established contract manufacturer, you'll find your perfect partner with confidence and ease.

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Topics: electronics repair services, assembly process, electronic contract manufacturer

Realizing The Value Of Working With A Contract Manufacturer

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Thu, Jun 26, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Contract Manufacturer

As an electronics business, your goal is to provide your customers with superior devices, powered by efficient and highly-functional PC boards. You want to keep buyers happy with boards that will continue to support your products for many years.  But despite your best efforts, there's always the chance that something will go wrong with one of your devices. How do you handle it when there's trouble with one of your units? Do you simply cut your losses and ship a warranty replacement unit?

For many small to mid-sized companies, this may seem like the simplest solution, but is it really worth it? In many cases, the problems associated with a faulty device can be traced right back to the PC board. Through troubleshooting, you might find that the issue really boils down to one or two components that may need to be replaced, or another quick fix. Ultimately, taking the time to make these adjustments can save you a significant amount of money.

The problem is that unless you're a large business, you may not have the time or resources available to make repairs to your electronics. Fortunately, you don't have to go it alone. A growing number of companies are realizing the value of working with a contract manufacturer as a means of offering improved fulfillment services on devices and boards. By partnering up, you can provide your customers with a direct repair and return depot where PC boards can be troubleshooted and evaluated, and repairs can be made to the units. 

Lower Your Costs

From a business owner's standpoint, hiring a contract manufacturing company to handle your electronics repair services is an excellent investment. When you choose to simply replace a device under warranty, you're really just throwing money away. If, for example, your vehicle's fan belt were to blow out, would you simply decide to go out and purchase a new car or truck? Of course not. A mechanic would be able to make the necessary repairs in order to restore your vehicle to full operation for a much lower cost. In the same way, a contract manufacturer has the ability to pinpoint exactly what is going wrong with a unit's PC board and make a much more economical repair. In the long run, choosing to repair electronics rather than replace them could save your business tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the volume of repairs required and the nature of your devices.

Lower Your Customer's CostsContract Manufacturers

From the standpoint of one of your clients, electronics repair services are also beneficial. Although your buyers are not actually paying for their warranty replacement items up front, the expenses associated with continuing to replace devices could actually affect consumers over the long haul. When your business expenses become higher, you are eventually forced to raise the customer cost to purchase new products. Not only will this be frustrating to your clients, but it could actually make your devices less competitive and cause you to lose valuable business. By choosing to work with a contract manufacturer in order to troubleshoot minor issues and make repairs, you're making it possible to keep your products affordable, improving consumer morale and allowing buyers to continue to have faith in your business model.

Operate a More Eco-Friendly Business

From an environmental standpoint, electronics repair services allow your business to "go green". When electronics are simply replaced through warranty agreements, the faulty devices are often scrapped, promoting waste in our landfills and requiring more of our valuable resources to be tapped into as a means of creating new units. Making the decision to repair instead of replacing electronics is much more environmentally responsible. Not only will this help your company to do your part to help the environment, but your greener practices will appeal to the masses, helping to you to get more business and allowing buyers to feel happier about purchasing eco-friendly products.

 

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Topics: electronics repair services, assembly process, electronic contract manufacturer

What's Behind Superior PCB Assembly?

Posted by Matthew Turpin on Wed, May 21, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

pcb assembly

In any industry, it's extremely important that you're able to keep up with (if not surpass) the competition by offering the very best products and services. This is especially true in the electronic sector. With every passing moment, further advancements are being made in our technological capabilities and processes, which results in a consumer demand for increasingly complex yet affordable and user-friendly products. Of course, behind every great electronic device is an advanced, well put-together PC board. 

It's true! Although most users will never even take a glimpse at a PCB (let alone begin to understand how it works), these units are the backbone of our technology. As such, it's absolutely crucial that a lot of care goes into the manufacture and assembly process. But what is it that sets a superior PC board apart from a mediocre or low-quality board? Unless you know, you could end up partnering with a less-than-qualified contract manufacturing company. To eliminate any future stresses or headaches on your end, let's take a look at what actually goes into the assembly of the best PCBs.

Training

Before your prospective contract manufacturer can even be considered, you should take the time to find out what type of educational background and hands-on experience is required of its employees. Those working on your valuable PC boards should understand the latest mounting technologies, when SMT is preferable to through-hole methods and vise-versa, should understand industry standards and requirements, and should have the necessary experience in the business in order to back-up their "book smarts".

Passion

Does your contract manufacturer care about their work? Those who are passionate about technology, and providing an excellent board to the end user will put the most effort into the design and assembly process, allowing you to feel confident in the boards that you're using in your products or selling to your customers.

Careful Planning & Design

Even a seemingly insignificant oversight or hiccup in the design process can result in a PCB that is less efficient or effective. When this happens, your product may not operate as well as you had planned or expected, or it may not function at all. Whether designing and engineering your boards for you from scratch or reviewing the plans of your in-house design team, your contract manufacturer should be dedicated to ensuring that your schematics are as cost-efficient and accurate as possible.


American-Made Parts

The system components and parts that are used to assemble your PC boards absolutely must meet industry standards and regulations in order to function safely and correctly. Although many overseas manufacturing companies offer very cheap prices for PCB assembly, they tend to use counterfeit parts that could go against our standards. It's always best to stick with American manufacturers and parts.

pc boards
Advanced Assembly & Production Technologies

In order to remain competitive with those "big fish" electronics companies, you need to ensure that your PC boards are being manufactured with the latest and greatest assembly and production technologies. Partnering with a contract manufacturer that utilizes modern machinery, computation devices, and robotics is one of the smartest and most cost-effective means of "keeping up with the Joneses".


Guaranteed Satisfaction

After all has been said and done, the truest hallmark of a superior PC board is the contract manufacturer's ability to back up the design and assembly process. While some companies may sever ties with you after fulfilling an order (leaving you without a warranty or design schematics), the best will believe so strongly in the quality of their PCBs that they will continue to work with you, offering fulfillment services like troubleshooting, and a customer repair and return depot. 

You wouldn't ever settle for anything less than the best for yourself, so why would you offer anything less than the very best assembled PCBs to your clients? By understanding what goes into the manufacture of truly superior products, you'll never sell yourself or your customers short again. 

 

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Topics: assembly process, assembly pcb, pcb design

Assembly Manufacturing: Circuit Cards Ticket to Precision

Posted by Laura Austin on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

Maybe it goes without saying, but in the world of electronic manufacturing solutions, precision is everything. When you're dealing with circuit cards with layers of micro-printed circuitry, incorporating dozens of smaller sub-components, tiny mistakes can end up having large ramifications for your business.

Indeed, in the world of assembly manufacturing, there are plenty of horror stories of botched manufacturing jobs costing companies millions, or threatening their very existence. A single bad batch of products can sink a product line, especially in today's Internet-enabled world where news spreads very quickly.

A lot goes into assuring the assembly manufacturing of your circuit cards is of the highest quality, with the most detailed levels of precision. Let's take a look at some of what goes intoassembly-manufacturing this.

Assembly Manufacturing Equipment

If there is a single factor in determining whether an electronics assembly firm can meet your needs, it likely lies in their product assembly and their production equipment. PCB manufacturing is a constantly-evolving field, and high levels of precision require equally precise equipment.

For example, when constructing circuit cards, large reflow ovens are used to bind the cement-like solder to the board, gluing everything in place almost like the “stitches” on a gingerbread man. Once upon a time, an oven with a single temperature zone was sufficient for most electronics needs.

However, newer board designs often have need of multiple different baking temperatures, so that the solder can be melted without damaging any of the delicate components around it. Reflow ovens with a half-dozen or more temperature zones, as well as multiple cool-down points also at their own precise temperatures, are now necessary. Is your assembly manufacturer up to snuff?

Supply Chain Oversight

You should also be concerned with the quality of the components that are going onto your circuit cards in the first place. Unfortunately, a lot of overseas manufacturers have become notorious for their use of counterfeit parts, some of which cannot be easily identified.

If your assembly manufacturing firm has a strong grasp of supply chain management, many of these fears can be alleviated. Fundamentally, the best solution to supply chain problems is making use of trusted sources, and only a manufacturer with years of experience will have built up the necessary contacts. Through a combination of quality contacts and software inventory management, it becomes far less likely that bogus parts will make it into your design.

Repair and Rework

No manufacturing job is ever pulled off with 100% perfection. Of course, “four nines” is what most manufacturers desire, but either way, mistakes are bound to happen. In a batch order of 100,000, losing a few to defects is no big deal and, likely, already accounted for inPCB-assembly-manufacturing budgeting.

But what if you're only manufacturing a few circuit cards for specialty use, such as in a custom medical device?

In that case, an electronics manufacturer who offers repair and rework services is what will guarantee your product is as precise as you need. And this is precision work, of a very traditional sort. It's often conducted by hand, through magnifiers, to fix a broken pin or re-solder a bit of circuity that didn't quite bond correctly in the oven.

Such handiwork requires a high level of skill and dedication on the part of your manufacturer, and it's a service you won't get from just any electronics plant.

Precision Means Sales

No matter how many units you're looking to sell, precision in your circuit card assembly is all-important. With modern electronics being smaller and more dense than ever, you should ensure that you employ an assembly manufacturing plant that's capable of delivering the product you need, on time, and without sticking you with dud products.

Topics: assembly manufacturing, assembly process, assembly manufacturing services, assembly manufacturing firm, PCB manufacturing