Are you in the industry of producing electronic hardware? Do you outsource your printed circuit board assembly (PCBA)? You should, especially if you want to spend more time focusing on important aspects of your business, like the designing process and the marketing of your products. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of outsourcing your PCB assembly, as well as a few common mistakes to avoid when choosing your contract manufacturer (CM). Let’s get going.
Benefits of outsourcing your PCB assembly
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already an established business in the industry, you should consider the complexities associated with the manufacturing of modern PCB assemblies. PCBs have grown to be more sophisticated in this digital age, and staying up to date with new technologies can be challenging, especially if you already have too much on your mind. Here are a few benefits of outsourcing your PCB assembly to a company that specializes solely in this pursuit.
1. Lower investment costs
The equipment needed to assemble quality PCBs can be expensive. You’ll also need to get special certifications, especially if your target audience involves the aerospace or medical industries. Furthermore, you’ll need to hire more staff to operate the equipment and implement extra quality-control measures in your manufacturing process. Developing the perfect cost-effective infrastructure and manufacturing process can take years. This is why it could be beneficial for your business to hire a CM instead. Transferring certain responsibilities to your CM will save you time, money, and resources that can be invested elsewhere in your business.
2. Cost efficiency
Because your vendor focuses solely on manufacturing PCB assemblies, they will already have a clear understanding of the factors that affect cost efficiency during the manufacturing process. This means they can reduce the costs per unit, resulting in greater savings for you. Lower input costs will enable you to offer your end products at competitive prices and maintain your relevance in the electronics market.
3. Avoid product recalls
Your outsourcing partner should be able to recognize issues that you might not detect (such as design flaws or conflicting materials) before your product goes to market. This is because years of trial and error have made them an expert at what they do. Imagine discovering a faulty PCB design after thousands of consumers have already bought your product. An example of such an incident is the recall of some BMW i3 models that were produced in 2018. A PCB issue within the Electric Motor Electronics (EME) module caused the shutdown of the high voltage electrical power supply to the vehicle, leaving many drivers stranded in the middle of the road. Not only can product recalls lead to huge financial loss, they may also damage your brand’s reputation.
4. Faster time to market (TMT)
Most PCB contractors already have a strong supply chain network which cuts down lead times. This enables them to produce PCBs within a shorter timeframe, giving you the ability to meet deadlines and outmode your products more quickly.
5. Forming new partnerships
The right CM may show interest in your success and has the potential of becoming a long-term partner. They can assist you in various aspects of your business, including the design of PCB layouts and even the distribution process. A good business partner is always a valuable asset.
Common mistakes to avoid when outsourcing
So you’ve considered all the benefits of outsourcing your PCB assembly and have decided to start looking for your own CM. Great! Now you just need to ensure that you choose the correct partner and maintain a good working relationship with them. Failing to do so may negatively impact your business. Here are a few common mistakes you should avoid during the outsourcing process:
- Rushing your decision
This is likely going to be a long-term business relationship, so you need to choose your outsourcing partner wisely. Signing a contract with the first best candidate that you find may harm your chances at success in the long run. Take time to make a list of potential vendors and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each one.
Make a list that clearly states your needs and requirements, and conduct interviews with prospective CMs where you thoroughly discuss them. Don’t rush the interviews – take your time to gather as much information as possible. Comparing your findings on each CM will help you make an informed decision.
- Poor communication
Failing to communicate properly with your CM may result in them misunderstanding your requirements. You should clearly state your requirements, such as specs and materials, at the start of each project. Follow up with your CM regularly to make sure they’re on the right track, but be careful not to resort to micromanaging. This may intimidate your CM and result in them severing your partnership.
- Trust issues
If you’ve taken the required steps in choosing the correct CM, there should be no reason for you not to be confident in their capabilities. You should feel comfortable handing over your plans and ideas to a trustworthy CM. If at any time, you run into any trust issues with your CM, you should consider switching to another service provider.
- Choosing the lowest rates
When it comes to the manufacturing of electronics, quality is very important. You should be cautious of vendors that offer extremely low rates, as this can often translate to low-quality workmanship and/or materials.
- Outsourcing abroad
Though you may come across CMs from abroad that seem to be a good fit for your business, you should reconsider using them. Outsourcing to CMs in another country may lead to communication and security challenges within your business. Investigating the reliability of a potential CM is often easier if you turn to local sources.
Now that we’ve given you a few points to consider, have you made the decision to start outsourcing your PCB assembly? If so, contact us for reliable and quality outsourcing services. EMS Solutions has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, and we have the necessary certifications to ensure that our products are safe and reliable.