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Top 10 Things To Look For In Your Electronics Contract Manufacturer

Posted by Laura Austin on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 07:00 AM

Choosing an electronics contract manufacturer for your electronics is a huge prospect, but one which is vital to a successful production run.  There are dozens of criteria you could use, but remember: price isn't everything, and you generally get what you pay for.  Taking a little time to research vendors rather than going with the lowest bidder will usually pay off in the long run.

So, we've compiled a list of the ten elements we'd consider most crucial in choosing an electronics manufacturer.  Tick these off, and you can be more confident in the future of your new products.

Ten Things You Need to Know When Choosing an Electronic Contract Manufacturer

  1. Financial Stability:  Contract electronics manufacturing requires a significant initial outlay, usually beyond what ever up-front payment is made with the contractor.  You need reasonable assurances that they have the capital and resources necessary to put your order together on time, and up to your specifications.

  2. Operator Certifications:  Dozens of organizations are set up around the world, testingelectronics-manufacturer and evaluating manufacturer processes, such as the IPC series of manufacturing standards. Research which certifications are relevant to your products and find an electronic contract manufacturer who meets them and can show proof of certification.

  3. Quality System Certifications:  As with operations, many international standards exist like the universally-recognized ISO:9001 2008 and AS9100 quality standards.  Look for manufacturers whose quality controls are guaranteed.  However, remember: certification is nice, but seeing the raw data on their defect rates paints a more accurate picture.

  4. PCB Assembly Environment:  A manufacturer's output is only as good as their working environment.  A clean, well-managed, professional assembly environment is a must.  Pay particular attention to their humidity and electrostatic discharge protections.  These environmental factors can have significant impact on your products' reliability.

  5. Information Management:  Successful High-volume manufacturing services requires considerable data management systems.  Ensure your electronic contract manufacturer uses an integrated Resource Planning System and robust lot control to help guarantee quality throughout the entire production process.

  6. Equipment Set:  Higher-precision electronics with fewer defects requires significantelectronics-contract-manufacturing hardware investments.  A reflow oven that was fine ten years ago is now under-equipped, and likely will not have enough separate heating zones for any particular job.  Inquire about their equipment purchases and how current their technology is.

  7. Transparency:  In a perfect world, every business would be transparent in its practices, but that's rarely the case.  In general, however, the more open a company is about its processes and success rates, the better you should feel about working with them.  You have to trust them to tell you if problems crop up or if there are issues you need to address.

  8. References:  Data is nice, but it doesn't tell the whole story.  If your electronics manufacturer isn't willing or able to provide actual testimony from past clients, you may have cause to worry.  Any decent manufacturer should have at least a few references who can vouch for their standards and practices.

  9. Inventory Management Processes:  Inventory management covers a lot of vital ground, from where your manufacturer sources their parts to how they guarantee your products are being produced from the components you requested.  Ask them for details on how they track your items in production, and how they prevent counterfeit parts from getting into their supply chain.

  10. Technical Competency:  Your electronics provider needs more than an assembly line and some good materials.  They need the competency to provide you with manufacturing and design services that can adjust for new challenges, quickly provide solutions to problems that occur, and produce your items with a minimum of hand-holding from you.  Their references, specifically, can speak to this ability - ask about how your contract manufacturer handled a crisis to really learn their character.

Of course, everyone has different priorities and criteria.  Did we miss any considerations that you considered crucial in your own manufacturing decision process? 

Topics: electronic manufacturing company, Electronics Contract Manufacturer, manufacturer process, manufacturing standards