Value added services are a defining feature for circuit manufacturers. This series will explore how to ensure your partner delivers value in circuit design, fabrication and assembly.
Circuit design, fabrication and assembly are offered as value added services by many circuit and contract manufacturers. These services aim to deliver a cost-effective and less-stressful experience for the customer, because all activities can be managed through one supplier.
But for many customers, finding true value isn’t just about services. It’s about a supplier’s expertise and the skills they add to a project.
In part three of this series on value added services, we’re going to talk about circuit assembly and how to ensure a manufacturer delivers value to your company.
Circuit Assemblers: They’re all the same right?
While it seems to many that any contract manufacturer can assemble any circuit. It is not the case! The common view of circuit assembly companies is that they merely need to follow instructions. After all you must simply put the correct component in the correct location and nothing more. Therefore the company that submits the lowest quotation wins the business. Many OEMs choose their suppliers this way. And many OEMs have been disappointed by their choice at one time or another.
The fact is that some electronic manufacturing companies are good at certain type of circuits and not good at others. For instance, a company whose core practice is assembling high volumes, may not be comfortable with small quantities and high part number counts. And conversely, a manufacturer whose core business is low volume and high mix, may not be a good choice for very high volume projects. They are two very different models and don’t necessarily mix well.
However strong the urge to choose a contract manufacturer based solely on price, it is strongly suggested that you delve a little farther into their core competency and experience to assure that your assemblies are done correctly the first time.
How to determine if your manufacturer adds value in circuit assembly services
When your circuit manufacturer or design partner suggests that they can assemble your circuits as well, it is wise to ask a few questions beforehand to assess the value they can add. First, will they do the circuit assembly or will it be outsourced? If they will do the assembly, ask what types of circuit assembly they have the most experience with. Or better yet, visit them to see what kind of assembly is being done daily. If it is outsourced, will they mind if you contact the circuit assembly company to assess what their core competencies are?
It is fair to ask who that contract manufacturer is and to call and interview them to see if they understand the assembly as well as you do. You’ve done a lot of research to choose your design or circuit fabrication partner and it makes very good sense to do the same with their suggested contract manufacturer.
Whether your application requires a simple printed circuit board (PCB) or a complicated PCB or flexible circuit, your discussion with the manufacturer can confirm their experience in that type of circuit assembly. Or lack thereof. Either way it is worth the time and effort up front to avoid problems when the assembly is received, and testing begins. We all know that finding out too late is costly both in time and money!
Finding out later that the manufacturer doesn’t have the proper experience to handle your project will negate the value in your partner’s “Value Added Services”
If your design partner or circuit manufacturer offers circuit assembly services, meet with them to determine the level of value and convenience this service provides your company. An experienced partner can be a valuable addition to your supply chain.