Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

Engineering Manufacturing Companies Create Smooth, Precise Processes

Posted by Laura Austin on Tue, Apr 02, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

Have you ever stopped to consider just how many choices consumers have in the market today?

The overseas production boom of the last decades made the manufacturing market boom, with engineering manufacturing companies springing up globally and massively bumping up worldwide production rates. However, along with this the Internet played a huge part. Now, engineering-manufacturing-companiesanyone anywhere in the world can order just about anything from anywhere else in the world and have it delivered to their door within a day or two.

This creates a problem for buyers. On one hand, this booming market means that there is plenty of opportunity out there for anyone who wants to try their hand at the electronics biz. On the other, that means there's also even more competition out there as well. Your market base just expanded to include the world, and so did your competition base.

With information on products also flowing freely around the Internet, with people instantly telling each other if a hot new product has big problems, you get egg on your face within mere days of a product's launch, rather than only after weeks or months. You can't even necessarily trust on a big initial sales boom, if word of a product design problems get out fast enough.

It is, in short, no longer sufficient to provide a cheap, mediocre product unless “customer
satisfaction” is towards the bottom of your list of priorities. You might be able to carve out a niche by specifically making low build quality and resulting low prices part of the sales pitch (See: IKEA), but generally speaking, if you want a hit product, it needs to be a good product.

And for a good product, you need to look for engineering manufacturing companies who can provide it.

Good Production Processes Put Good Products on Shelves

There are a lot of ways you can go wrong through the wrong engineering manufacturing companies. A lot of them, especially foreign outfits, have manufacturing plants that aren't up to current standards. Electronics manufacturing is a constantly-evolving field, and from time to time, a company needs to invest in new equipment to ensure they can continue to produce products which are up to current market standards.

Supply chain management is another of the most important elements in quality engineering manufacturing companies, and it's something many people don't even consider. However, counterfeit components are increasingly slipping into the supply chain. Without a manufacturer who has a strong grasp on supply chain management, like contaminants
engineering-manufacturing sneaking into a batch of medicines, a counterfeit batch of components can ruin an entire production run. (Or, worse, not get noticed until your product gets released and starts mysteriously failing a week later.)

You need this level of quality and precision for a smooth product introduction. The first days to market are the most important, of course, when you're likely to move the most products and hope word of mouth picks up. You want that word of mouth to be good word of mouth!

However, post-sale support is also part of the sales cycle, and good customer interactions can also lead to good word of mouth.

So, consider also engineering manufacturing companies that offer post-sale support with fulfillment services as well. After all, what better place for your customers to call for their tech support than the very same facility that put their product together in the first place? It's putting your post-sale into the hands of the people who can do it the most accurately and efficiently and that also smooths the release process. Plus, you better serve your customers' needs at the same time by making any post-sale problems (and they areinevitable) as hassle-free as you can.

In short, the best way to release a hit product today is to release a good product. Finding the right partner company to manufacture your devices is the best way to ensure the quality work you need.

Topics: engineering design services, contract electronics manufacturing, contract electronics industry, manufactured electronics, electronic contract manufacturing

Electronic Contract Manufacturing Company Focuses on Process, Quality

Posted by Laura Austin on Sat, Jan 19, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

PCB-assemblyWhen looking for the perfect contract electronics manufacturing company to take care of all of your manufacturing needs, whether it is PCBs or otherwise, it is always wise to do your research and find out what companies holds the quality of the process as one of their highest priorities. Contrary to popular belief, not all manufacturing companies are compliant with certain standards or might not truly do a quality job of manufacturing components despite what they might market.

So, how can you tell when a company truly believes in quality over quantity and won't just hand over faulty pieces? There are some signs to look out for when you start your search on an electronic manufacturing company, all of them listed below.

Parts With Integrity

One of the most costly mistakes that any business outsourcing their electronics manufacturing can face is faulty components and parts in their finished products. This is a common occurrence among manufacturers with their main processing and manufacturing teams in overseas factories like China or India. 

Poorly designed and usually counterfeit components are used instead of high quality, non-counterfeit parts in order to cut corners with pricing. While saving a buck might be tempting, this usually results in arcs, bad circuity, and even the entire piece short circuiting and causing even more outside damage. That is potentially thousands of dollars at stake, on top of possible recalls and lawsuits from faulty components. Find a company with United States based parts and manufacturing and you will find parts with integrity and the highest quality available.

US-based Operations

Speaking of United States based components and manufacturing, it is actually possible--and preferable--to find an on-shore business that tries to keep as much of their manufacturing, engineering, and testing processes within the United States as possible. Simply asking the manufacturer about their operations is a great way to find a transparent business that makes
electronic-contract-manufacturingsure your product is only of the highest quality.

Not only that, but keeping in contact with the manufacturing services business will be much easier if they aren't half a world away or only have a virtual office in the United States for the sake of
looking like they have operations in America. Any questions or concerns can be addressed immediately, instead of having to sit through hours of customer service or not hearing any reply at all.

Quality Assurance & Testing

If the price looks too good to be true then it more than likely is! An electronic manufacturing company needs to be able to assure the best of the best from your final design and product--if not, then it needs to go back to the drawing board to be re-tested until it passes rigorous tests. Check to see what services are offered and what exactly your electronic components are going through, process by process, to make sure that there is indeed QA testing going on.

Most companies will say right on their website if they have on-site testing and Quality Assurance. If you can't find any information regarding such, then don't hesitate to ask and make sure the final product is truly safe and ready to be shipped out or implemented to other pieces. This is your budget, after all--make it count!electronic-manufacturing

Deadlines Met, Budget-Friendly

Finally, if possible, check out any white papers, case studies, or any other helpful information on the electronic manufacturing company you want to do business with. Find out if they can keep strict deadlines or might need some leg room to work, or if they can successfully stay within budget or you might have to find someone else instead. Don't be afraid to turn down first offers from manufacturing companies and going with someone else.

It is possible to find a quality company with all of the above traits in today's economy, all it takes is just a little research and being able to say "no" when you don't feel comfortable.

Topics: electronic manufacturing company, contract electronic manufacturing, Contract Electronics Assembly, contract electronics industry

Surface Mounted Technology Makes Manufacturing Processes Smooth

Posted by Laura Austin on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 @ 07:00 AM

One thing that often surprises newcomers to the contract electronics industry is that its backbone is a manufacturing process that was developed back in the 1980s. Surface mounted technology revolutionized electronics manufacturing, and it did such a good job that some thirty years later, we're still using it.

Sure, the technologies involved have improved radically in the intervening decades, but the underlying processes are the same. So what is it about surface mounted technology that SMTmade it such an effective process? Let's take a look.

Electronics Manufacturing Before Surface Mounted Technology

Automation first came to electronics manufacturing in the 1950s. Before then, electronics had to be assembled by hand using point-to-point construction, making them both costly and difficult to create. Advanced electronics and computers could really only be afforded by governments.

Then, the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) was invented. Circuit boards could be pre-designed and then mass-produced, creating a stable platform onto which the rest of the components were inserted. The standardized design also allowed automation to be introduced, with assembly lines inserting components rapidly into the pre-made PCBs.

At this time, manufacturing was dominated by "Through-Hole" technology. Holes were drilled through the PCBs, with each individual component using a small "peg and hole" arrangement to stay in place before being secured on the opposite side.

While a huge step forward from previous hand-crafted solutions, this still had significant problems. The drilling made the process more expensive and difficult than it could be, and lowered the strength of the boards. As technology advanced and miniaturized, space on PCBs was at a premium.

A new solution was needed, one which would allow electronics manufacturing to be a swift,SMT production smooth process of sticking parts together with a minimum of other activity.

Surface Mounted Technology Smooths The Electronics Manufacturing Process

Surface mounted technology (SMT) took the basic concept of through-hole manufacturing and streamlined it. PCBs no longer had to have holes drilled through them. Instead, components could be applied using a solder paste that doubled as glue.

This simplified the process to the point that electronics could be produced nearly as fast as they could be envisioned, leading to the consumer electronics boom of the late 80s and 90s. While SMT-mounted components lacked some of the inherent strength of a through-hole mount, being able to place far more of them onto smaller spaces more than outweighed this minor disadvantage.

Contract electronics manufacturing flourished as a result.

Surface Mounted Technology: A Five Step Process

Modern SMT production is a remarkably streamlined process that, once set up, requires little intervention. It boils down to five main stages:

  1. The PCB itself is produced, with circuitry and solder points already laid out for solder paste to the solder points on each PCB.

  2. Silk-Screen -like printers precision deposit solder onto the pads that will join the components to the board.

  3. Pick-and-Place machines precisely apply components to the prepared solder points.

  4. Reflow soldering ovens then bake the combined PCBs at exact temperatures to harden the solder into its final state without damaging the surrounding components.surface mount technology

  5. Finally, the finished assemblies are visually and automatically inspected via automated optical inspection (AOI), with defective boards sent back for rework to fix improperly-bonded components.

From there, the finished board can be shipped off to its final assembly into the completed product.

The Tried and True Solution

Undoubtedly, one day someone will find something better than SMT electronics manufacturing, but that day is likely still many years ahead of us. It's hard to imagine a more streamlined process for electronics creation without a significant change in how we create circuitry.

Until that day, the technology will continue to be refined, placing more components into smaller spaces, to keep providing gadgets to meet the demands of consumers.

Although, it does leave one to wonder: what will come after surface mounted technology? What might the circuits of the future look like?

Topics: electronics manufacturing, electronic manufacturing company, electronic design and manufacture, PCB, printed circuit board, contract electronics industry, Electronics Contract Manufacturer, through hole technology, electronic design, surface mounted technology, electronics design