Vaughan outlines how to make customer programs successful through early communication, complete design packages, and more.
Johnson: What’s the one thing you would want every customer to understand about delivering a data package to your quote team?
Vaughan: Well, I’m old-school, so planning and communication still matter more than anything to me. Often, if customers are running late against their deadlines, they will feel pressure internally to simply toss a data package over the fence, thinking that it’s complete enough and sufficient to both quote and build. If it’s a highly complex product, there’s a lot of dialogue that’s required. And the earlier the customer can engage us and communicate with us, outline their intentions, and be available for dialogue, the better results the program will have.
They also need to understand that the lead time is primarily a byproduct of the component supply chain.After we have a complete kit of all of the components, our actual build schedule is only anywhere from 2–4 weeks, which is fast when you think about the complexity of the product. The challenge is that the component supply chain lead times have crept up dramatically across all device types, and it’s not unusual for us to run across components that have a year lead-time in today’s environment.
So, if the customer is proactively communicating from the beginning, and the design cycle might take them six months, we can get in front of a lot of issues by working together. If we’re in lockstep with them from the beginning, then we can negate some of those supply issues by pre-buying components, etc. If communication and data packages are incomplete, untimely and sporadic, then we cannot turn back the clock or accelerate the component supply chain appreciably. We can’t control the lead time on the components; that’s a primary challenge that everyone needs to consider. Zentech is one of the few EMS companies that will work with customers to mitigate risks, which is a significant, long-term benefit for everyone involved.
Johnson: With a lot of military, aerospace, and medical work, what are some of the services or assistance Zentech can provide that your customers tend to overlook?
Vaughan: Going back to the schedule compression, a lot of times, shockingly, when customers are developing high-tech products, they don’t give the proper amount of mindshare and planning to the test side of the product design and verification equation. Given the environments we operate in, typically mission or life critical, we prefer to test everything we build. The further along a customer has considered their testing approach and what that methodology looks like, the better. Also, it’s shocking how many designers of printed circuit boards and assemblies have never been in an assembly operation or a PCB manufacturing environment. A design might look great on the computer, but design for manufacturing (DFM) matters a lot more. Much of our work for our core customers is spent on design for assembly (DFA) analysis or DFM analysis. As a customer, you have this great product, and we’re behind you 100%. We want to help you bring it to market, but the problem arises when it can’t be built the way it’s currently constructed.
Zentech Manufacturing, Inc. is a privately held, engineering-driven contract manufacturer specializing in the design and manufacture of highly-complex electronic and RF circuit cards and assemblies. The company is headquartered in its purpose-built facility located in Baltimore, MD, with additional operations in Fredericksburg, VA. Zentech maintains several key certifications, including ISO 9001:2015, ITAR (US State Dept.), AS9100 (aerospace) and ISO 13485 (medical). In addition, Zentech is a certified IPC 610 Trusted Source supplier for Class 3 mission-critical electronics, and the company is IPC J-STD-001 Space Addendum QML certified and is now NIST 800-171 compliant and IPC 1791 certified. Zentech Fredericksburg operations is also a Mid-Atlantic leader in the fabrication of wire harnesses and over-molded cables for harsh environments.