Contract Electronics Manufacturing and PCB Assembly Blog

Baltimore Maryland Electronics Manufacturing Company Achieves AS9100

Posted by Laura Austin on Sat, Oct 13, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

Anyone involved in either the manufacturing or bulk purchasing of electronic components knows just how important quality assurance is. With counterfeit parts becoming an increasing concern, it's more important than ever that an electronic manufacturing company is able to guarantee its products are legitimate and produced according to the highest standards.

Counterfeit or otherwise poorly-produced components, in the supply chain represent a major issue for any electronics manufacturing company. Unreliable parts lead to unreliable products, which creates costly waste and damages customer goodwill. In a world where anyoneelectronics-manufacturing-industry with a smartphone can write a negative review of your product at any time, quality control is becoming an increasing concern in public relations.

However, these substandard components also disrupt the design process itself; discovering whether a product failed due to poor engineering or because of shoddy parts can become an expensive undertaking that delays products and creates uncertainty within an electronics manufacturing company. If a product goes wrong, you need to be able to quickly identify why and correct for it

So, given the importance of quality control, it's with great pride that Zentech, a Maryland-based electronics manufacturing company, announces the achievement of the AS9100C, which covers Requirements for Aviation, Space and Defense Organizations in Quality Management Systems.

In brief, Zentech is now certified as a reliable supplier to defense and aerospace organizations worldwide, opening up entirely new markets and potential for expansion.

This follows close behind Zentech's achievement of the ISO 13485:2003 standard for quality control in medical devices, along with Zentech's numerous other standards and capabilities. This demonstrates Zentech's dedication to providing the highest-possible quality components to as many different market groups as possible.

Why does this matter to you? It matters because Zentech seeks to demonstrate that there is far more to the TCO of product manufacturing than the base manufacturing costs. It's easy for an accountant to decide to go with the lowest bidder for the sake of keeping immediate costs down. But, such a move is increasingly being seen as an unnecessary risk in a global market being besieged with substandard electronics.electronics-industry

Using higher-quality components in your electronics at all stages of your manufacturing process will:

  • Reduce your post-sale support costs.

  • Free up space within your inventory by reducing the need for replacement parts.

  • Allow your engineers to focus on engineering, rather than testing for deficiencies in their components.

  • Produce a more reliable, attractive product.

  • Increase goodwill and loyalty among your customers.

  • Allow you to command a higher price point, justified through greater reliability.

With manufacturing of electronic components increasing being re-shored back to America, it appears that companies are coming to realize that cheaper truly is not always better.

By continuing to seek out and achieve more quality standards in more industries, Zentech hopes to demonstrate these principles. Well-designed, reliable components are worth more to an contract manufacturing company than any number of cheap, disposable parts.

Hopefully, this signals a shift in the winds within the electronics industry. Either way, Zentech is committed to providing the highest-quality components.

Do you believe the trend is moving back towards quality over low costs?

Topics: electronics manufacturing, electronic manufacturing company, contract manufacturing, manufacturing services, electronic design and manufacture, Electronics Assembly Maryland, contract electronics manufacturing, electronics industry, maryland electronics manufacturing, EMS industry

Evaluating Cost Of Ownership In Contract Electronics Manufacturing

Posted by Laura Austin on Sat, Sep 22, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

electronics industryThe concept of total cost of ownership (TCO) is not new to the electronics industry. In essence, it is defined as the total direct and indirect cost and benefits associated with the purchase of any part, assembly, sub-assembly or product. There are many models, tools and techniques for evaluating TCO in different industries. The electronics industry has its own set of unique costs and economic realities. To evaluate TCO here, you need to understand the product in detail. 

Over the last 15 years the biggest trend in contract electronics manufacturing has been off-shoring. This is outsourcing of manufacturing to off-shore destinations and the last decade has seen China emerge as the most preferred destination. The main driver of this move to off-shore manufacturing has been the lower prices of manufacturing in Asia and other destinations. 

In today's competitive environment, companies have to think of costs on a larger scale. Globalization means that competition is not localized but globalized. Decision making relating to costs has to therefore shift from the traditional methods to TCO. In your contract electronics manufacturing decisions, what do you consider to be the most important evaluation criteria? Is it just the price quoted by the off-shore manufacturers or do you think of costs in the broader TCO sense?

Some companies may choose an outsourcing destination simply because the price quoted is lower than what it would cost them to manufacture locally. They do not take into consideration the hidden and long-term costs and the economic implications of such decisions. TCO analysis in contract electronics manufacturing is designed to reveal the lifetime costs of acquiring, operating and changing the electronics in question.

electronics manufacturingThe first step in TCO evaluation for manufacturing is identifying the costs associated with the product. The most obvious direct cost is the price quoted by the manufacturer. Depending on the arrangement you have with the manufacturer, the cost quoted could include freight charges or it could just be the Ex-works price. Other costs incidental to bringing the product to your premises include: freight, insurance and import duties and tariffs. 

There are other hidden costs that end up being bundled with the overall organization's costs without being traced to the specific product that produces them. It is very rare that you will find an electronics manufacturer contracting any part of the assembly process to another company remotely. Even with the advances in technology you will want to assure yourself that the company can deliver; that it has the adequate capacity in terms of personnel and other resources to meet your requirements in terms of quality. As a result, a lot of travelproduct shipping expenses are incurred.

Apart from that, the communication costs in arranging for production and eventual shipping of the product are important. With contract electronics manufacturing, most people will require the manufacturer to send a sample before a whole order is processed. This sample is tested for adherence to the design and quality. A lot of communication has to pass back and forth especially where changes in the design are made.

When out-sourcing, you cannot guarantee yourself that the contract manufacturer will have the same passion for innovation as you do. The electronics industry is particularly driven by innovations and regular changes to the product will be made. You may find that you will need to change the contract manufacturer over the product's life-cycle if your technology demands exceed the manufacturer's capacity. Such a change represents other direct and indirect costs.
A major part of TCO that is not often captured by traditional cost evaluation is the inventory costs and controls. Due to the mostly lengthy purchase lead-times, you may require to maintain higher levels of inventory. This ties up a lot of your cashflow and the internal controls of managing higher inventories are additional costs. Apart from that, you may have excess capacity in your manufacturing after outsourcing which is an additional hidden cost.

Topics: electronics manufacturing, contract electronics manufacturing, electronics industry, total cost of ownership, off shoring, out-sourcing, cost of ownership

Ensuring Solder Quality in Electronics Contract Manufacturing

Posted by Laura Austin on Sat, Sep 08, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

In the past, post-assembly requirements for electronics contract manufacturing of boards were simpler compared to bare-board requirements. It was easy to purchase a board that didn’t have visible damage, but after investing money and time in the assembly, the product was no longer functioning well.  Because of this, improvement in the quality standards of electronic products became inevitable.


Upgrading the quality of IPCs-A-610E and J-STD-001E

One good news is that a pair of assembly standards has been updated to make it easier to use, and information has been added to some essential areas.  IPCs-A-610E and J-STD-001E are now more closely connected to each other to discard the differences that are costly to users. 

These two documents are still related to each other, but significant differences have already been applied to them to improve their qualities.  

In the case of IPC-A-610, the Acceptable Quality of electronics contract manufacturing products should now pass a visual standard of acceptance.  Standard criteria and illustrations showing how connections should be made after assembly have been setup.  These illustrations enable the users to understand the requirements fully well.

The longer of these 2 standards is A-610E that keeps track of post assembly examinations pertaining to soldering and mechanical criteria.  The numerous images that you can see are intended for visual inspections, along with a great number of illustrations and pictures added.

On the other hand, J-STD-001 contains electronics contract manufacturing standards onelectronics-contract-manufacturing processing and material requirements that also provides acceptance criteria in a written form, but having fewer illustrations.  The so-called Standard Criteria for Soldering Electronic Assemblies incorporated in J-STD-001 contains specific requirements when manufacturing a product.

1. A remarkable change that occurred only to J-STD-001E is that is its table on solder bath contaminant now has lead-free alloys. Another thing is that in its gold removal section, you’ll notice that it has been expanded in order to accommodate other valuable metal finishes added to gold.

2. J-STD-001E has also undergone some drastic changes to ensure ease in its use.  Compared before, similar topics that used to be in multiple locations have been grouped together now.  An example of this is the heat-sink criteria that are placed in one common location now.

How reshoring affects the quality in electronics contract manufacturing 

Reshoring is the trend of bringing back production to the US after offshoring to a particular country providing low-cost labor like China. Zentech Manufacturing, Inc., takes the lead in reshoring latest high-speed, advanced surface mount technology assembly line to the US. 
While this move brings employment opportunities to a more educated workforce, it also creates goodwill for the company and the country by a having a great symbol of superiority in quality of electronic products that are “Made in America”. 

Component lead times and availability 

Making the right materials available at the right place at the specified time is considered crucial to the growth of an electronics manufacturing company.  Without these essential resources along with highly-experienced professionals and state-of-the-art production
electronicsmethods, it’s difficult to expect growth for your business. 

Reliability of electronic products 

New technologies have emerged to provide more challenges to ensure the reliability of electronic products.  The increasing demand for electronic products featuring an improved performance and more advanced features at lower cost and less space is fast growing. 

While the quality in manufacturing is essential to ensure the reliability of a product, only the DfR-procedure can make a real assurance that its design which is made in good quality is indeed reliable for its specified application. 

How counterfeiting of electronic parts downgrades the electronics contract manufacturing industry 

A lot of consumers across the globe were injured when their cell phones exploded due to counterfeit batteries that had a short-circuit problem after overheating.  Counterfeiting cost the electronics industry about $100 billion each year.  It diminishes trust and satisfaction among consumers, and causes additional costs for electronic manufacturing services industry and its. companies.

Topics: electronics manufacturing, contract manufacturing, contract electronics manufacturing, electronics industry, Zentech technologies, soldering electronics, component lead times, electronic parts

Improving Reliability of Product Assembly through ESS Testing

Posted by Laura Austin on Thu, Sep 06, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

There are many factors to consider when deciding on a contract manufacturer to build your electronics or perform your product assembly. The first factor to come to mind is usually price, but there are others that are equally important. You also have to factor in quality control, shipping costs and reliability of the finished product. Unless your manufacturer has thoroughly tested the design and helped to make appropriate modifications, you could end up losing money in warranty repairs or even recalls.

Reliability testing is a particularly important part of the design and manufacturing process, and one of the most valuable tools in the reliability testing toolbox is Environmental Stress Screening (ESS). ESS works by exposing your design to extreme versions of the sorts of environmental stresses it will encounter “in the wild” including rapid temperature cycling, vibration, and power cycling. In this way, any latent defects in the design become apparent before the design is finalized, giving you and your manufacturer the chance to rework the design before moving on to the production run and product assembly.

The ESS process is generally comprised of three steps:product-assembly

1. Planning

The main purpose of the planning stage is to tailor the screening process to the product being tested. Planning will take into consideration cost, time available, and product life-span requirements. In order to plan effectively, planners must determine the number and type of latent defects likely to exist in the design, the maximum number of defects that are acceptable, and what screens will be most effective given those determinations. Remember that the purpose of ESS is not to remove all latent defects from the product, but rather to put the number and type of the defects into a range that is acceptable.

2. Implementation

Your contract manufacturing company will generally be taking care of most of the ESS implementation and will provide you with the resultant data and recommendations. They will use a “failure reporting, analysis, and corrective action system” (FRACAS), which is usually a software application, to track the failure data (remember that the point of ESS is to provoke failure). The types of data points you should expect to see are: 

  • which component failed

  • which test produced the failure

  • the date and time of the failure

  • a description of the failure symptoms

  • the name of the tester

  • any additional information of interest regarding the failure

3. Monitoringmonitoring

Monitoring is performed by generating reports from the implementation data and comparing ESS results with the expectations established in the planning phase. The parameters used vary somewhat depending on the product, assembly, or component being tested but often include:

  • Incoming defects

  • Screen strength

  • Defects remaining

  • Trend analysis 

Key parameters will also change over the course of production as more information enters the ESS program and it evolves to accommodate that information.


There are several benefits to a well designed ESS program, whether applied as early as the product design phase or as late as the product assembly phase. Increased reliability translates into lower warranty costs for a manufacturer, and that saves you money. Insight into what is causing defects and reliability issues in your current product line can also inform future design processes, effectively acting as an investment in research and development. Increased reliability can also help build your brand, thereby increasing sales.

When shopping around for an electronic contract manufacturer, it is vital not to undervalue the importance of a solid ESS system. A manufacturer with such a system in place will be able to help you improve the reliability not just of your current product, assembly or electronics but will provide information that will be applicable to your future product lines as well. Without an ESS system, it will be very difficult for that contractor to provide the consistency you need.

Topics: electronics manufacturing, product assembly, contract manufacturing, contract electronics manufacturing, electronics industry, technical design, ESS testing, reliability testing

Integrating Design and Electronics Manufacturing to Reduce Cost

Posted by Laura Austin on Wed, Sep 05, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

Integrating Engineering Design and Electronics Manufacturing to Reduce Cost

Ask any electronic design and manufacture expert on the best a solution to meet your high reliability manufacturing and engineering requirements for your business at an affordable cost, and probably the first answer you will get is contract Manufacturing and Engineering Services from zentech.

Zentech offers broad supply chain solutions to markets with both high complexity and reliability manufacturing requirements. As well, design engineering teams offer a complete range of embedded software and hardware services such as product design, support, compliance engineering and testing of life sustaining engineering at an affordable cost.

Zentech provides customized and flexible solutions for all stages of your product life cycle aselectronic-design-manufacturer well as direct repair and customer ship and return depot. The skilled technicians can quickly help you troubleshoot problems eliminating the need for costly warranty replacements. Additionally your manufactured products will be supported to offer an inclusive integrated solution.

Zentech’s electronic design and manufacture provides you with Functional Test and ICT Services for everything you want; some of these services include testing and troubleshooting complex analog, RF and digital products. Additionally, in order to offer customized testing solutions by partnering with local test houses to help you take advantage of existing tooling or set test plans inexpensively.

The electronic design and manufacture team at Zentech has the capability to develop a test plan and strategy for your product in addition to helping you build fixtures to your requirements. The distinguishing feature about Zentech solutions is that all defects identified by technicians during the process of testing are recorded in a database for trend analysis and reporting. In other words, you be helped to customize your program reporting format without increasing your cost.

Zentech provides a wide array of design services incorporating the whole product life cycle such as:

•         System Design

•         Product Requirements Review

•         Circuit Design

•         Algorithm Development

•         Embedded Software (Firmware)

•         Test Strategy

•         Documentation Creation and Management

•         Mechanical Design

•         RoHs Compliance

•         Sustaining Engineering

Making use of dedicated in-house resources for hardware engineering, embedded softwaredesign-system development and mechanical engineering, Zentech customize solutions to meet the requirements of your program.  

Engineers at Zentech have created thousands of products and have a wide range of technology and industry experience. This depth and level of experience helps to make sure that your technical resources are maximally used as intended and that your program has been delivered on time and within set budget.

Zentech as well offers a wide array of manufacturing services specializing in high-reliability and high-complexity program requirements. The services include:

•         Prototype and Volume Production

•         Design for Manufacturability

•         PC Board Assembly

•         Chassis and Box Build

•         Lot Control and Traceability

•         System Integration

•         Test Services

•         Field Service Repair and Return

Zentech employs controls and equipment to capitalize on the latest test and assembly technology that will keep on the edge in your industry. In addition, systems, processes and equipments are maximally utilized for flexibility in the development of complex products that have high-mix or medium-volume requirements.

Zentech has re-engineered many customer designs on top of designing for manufacturing on its in-house engineering projects. All-inclusive set of design guidelines employed at the company reduces costs and improve the quality of products through:

•         Component selection for process enhancement

•         Component reduction

•         Construction analysis and PCB layout

reduce-costIn fact, for one who is willing to contract electronic design and manufacture form Zentech is that, its key strength is its capacity to engineer and manufacture/produce electronics components or parts for a wide variety of customers, comprising medical diagnostics makers, telecommunications companies and defense contractors at reduced costs.

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Topics: electronics manufacturing, contract manufacturing, manufacturing services, electronic design and manufacture, contract electronics manufacturing, electronics industry, SMT Assembly, Zentech technologies, electronic parts, design review, electronic design, manufacturing, engineering design