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PCB Assembly Providers(How To) - 8 Helpful Questions

PCB Assembly Providers(How To) - 8 Helpful Questions

Abstract

Evaluating your PCB Assembly Providers is necessary if you are you want materials that you can rely on for your day to day activities. For this reason, it is necessary that you develop criteria that can be used when sourcing for a PCB Assembly providers. The company's financial position, the environment in which it operates. The equipment it uses and how it manages its information are some of the critical aspects you must consider. This article looks at some of the grilling questions you need to ask before engaging a company as your PCB assembly providers.

 

Table of content

 

1. Company Qualify

  1.1 Is The Company Financially Stable?

  1.2 Does The Company Have Certifications?

  1.3 How Transparent the Company Is?

 

2. Quality Control

  2.1. A Verified Quality Control System

 

3. PCB assembly Environment

 

4. Technical Use

  4.1 Equipment Used

  4.2 Technical Support

  4.3 Technology

 

5. Information Management

  5.1 Intellectual Property Processes

  5.2 Point of Contact

  5.3 The Strength of the Inventory Management Process

 

6. Check the Industry the Provider Is Experienced In

 

7. Check If They Are Providing Prototyping Services

 

8. Specific Consideration

  8.1 Government Standards

  8.2 Products

  8.3 Cost

 

1. Company Qualify

 

 1.1 Is The Company Financially Stable?

 

This is the first question that needs to be answered before you consider partnering with the provider for your day to day supply of PCB materials. The worst thing that you can do to your company is to engage a supplier that is financially unstable. If you do this, it means that you will have your material pipeline interrupted because of financial issues. Notice that financial issues are always difficult to solve and so it may take weeks and even months to work through them. A company that is stable not just financially. In all aspects that are related to customers and vendors can be trusted and relied on for inventorying PCBs.

 

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 1.2 Does The Company Have Certifications?

 

Building PCB products require that a company should be certified and licensed. As such it is necessary that you only enter into agreements with companies that are certified. Check out if the company has qualified specialist and workmanship. It is also necessary that you check if they are licensed to carry out soldiering or rework repairs. The certification of the trainer staff is something that should not be ignored. Also, it is important that you check the quality system certification in their possession.

 

 1.3 How Transparent the Company Is?

 

Other than ensuring that the company will be in a position to supply you with quality printed circuit boards. It is important to consider whether it is transparent or not. You need to research on whether the factory is customer friendly or not. You should get a chance to visit and get access to the factory without hindrance.  Companies that offer on-sight tours that help to give insight into what they are doing could be relied on. Check if there is any reference to the quality of the work they do.

 

2. Quality Control

 

Having a quality control management system in place is critical in guaranteeing quality. Ensure that there is a certification that demonstrates quality standards. It details the checking after inspections during assembly. Check where they are sourcing their materials. Are they dealing with reputable suppliers that avoid delays that cause late part arrival and defective materials? Are they sourcing from certified suppliers of materials or they are dealing with counterfeit materials?

 

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 2.1. A Verified Quality Control System

 

A good documentation and project management process may be beneficial to the business partnership between PCB consumers and suppliers. A provider that has invested in prompt communication and minimize delays is likely to secure the required approval and streamline their operations including the supply chain.

 

3. PCB assembly Environment

 

It is important that you check the PCB assembly environment of the company that you are planning to contract for your day to day PCB products supply. A company that has a clean factory that is well laid out guarantees you quality products. It is a sign of discipline. It is required to ensure that they deliver quality products. It also tells you that the company will guarantee that quality products will be delivered when needed. It also tells you that the manufacturing partnership may last and guarantees you a steady supply of products. A company that employs the 5S initiatives should be considered.

 

4. Equipment Use

 

 4.1 Equipment Used

 

The equipment your provider uses is important. Any PCB assembly providers must ensure that the customers utilize the latest equipment to help keep up with the new technology. You need to ask the provider to provide you with a PCB list. So that you figure out if it can help to fulfill your orders.

 

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 4.2 Technical Support

 

Building a relationship that extends beyond assembling PCBs is important. There are critical aspects such as offering technical support that should be considered. The PCBS provider should at all the times be in a position to deliver engineering support and expert insight into issues that arise before the beginning of the manufacturing process. This is important in that it saves time and ensures downstream corrections.

 

 4.3 Technology

 

Technological advancement is inevitable and so it should remain an important aspect. The forms part of the questions that should be asked when evaluating PCB assembly providers ability. To investigate the technology, ask questions that can help you find answers about whether the available technology can actually help to cater for your processing capabilities and requirements. Also, ask whether the provider has advanced equipment that allows for automation and whether they can lead in the new processing in the market. Check out their soldering, repair and de-panel capabilities.

 

5. Information Management

 

How the company manages its electronic contract is important. Check out their order processing, the amount of time spent on manufacturing and the duration they take to deliver on orders. Also, checking their shipping process and how they generally manage information is important. Check out if the proper process is in place. Does the company have customer focus team? Are their products reviewed? If they are, you need to check if the review is done on quarterly, biannually or annually basis. Find out if they also offer audits to their vendors. This is important since it helps you to ensure that quality procedures are in place. Check out if they offer manufacturability reviews which help to ensure that they only deal in products that meet the set standards.

 

 5.1 Intellectual Property Processes

 

It is one of the most invaluable assets that we all tend to ignore but which play a critical role in determining whether the PCB assembly can be trusted or not. Knowing how a company protects its clients from infringement is necessary. Also, it is necessary to find out what they have done to secure their IP information from breaches.

 

 5.2 Point of Contact

 

Is the company ready to provide you with a salesperson that will help handle your account and needs? PCBA vendors that provide a point of contact clients should be chosen since they provide a contact that can help to address your questions and concerns. It helps to streamline the process of project management. Also,the point of contact could come in handy when making technical inquiries on the PCBs.

 

 5.3 The Strength of the Inventory Management Process

 

How strong the inventory management process is should be considered. Take your time to review the provider’s inventory system as soon as the components and other materials arrive in the factory to the point at which the finished products are shipped to the end users. To this end, material management is a key factor that should not be ignored. Check if the company has the ability to locate materials and parts that you may need for your project. Ensure that you choose a PCBA vendor that provide design review before and after the beginning of the assembly process. This is critical in ensuring that you don’t incur additional costs associated with delays and change of orders.

 

6. Check the Industry the Provider Is Experienced In

 

It is important to check the industry in which your PCB Assembly providers are specializing in.A provider with in-depth knowledge of different industries could be critical. Check the company’s machines and its capability. Is it capable of delivering an order according to the specifications? Can it reflow ovens, pick and place machines and rework equipment.Does it guarantee quality products?

 

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7. Check If They Are Providing Prototyping Services

 

The best PCB Assembly providers should be capable of providing prototyping services on the boards to help improve turnaround. The prototyping services are critical when reviewing a finished product,therefore, it is necessary to look at it before you think about pending a signature on any new project.The prototype can help one predict whether the specifications can be met or not.

 

Notice that a clean quality audit provides an evidence that the plant’s environment is well controlled and it helps to show how the company attends to details on any given project.

 

Of course, there are other questions that can help to give you invaluable insights in PCBA vendors before getting into a contract with them. Aspects such as quality of the products, technical know-how, quality control, equipment as well as project management play a critical role in helping support your business. It is important to remember that the widening skill gap makes it difficult to guarantee quality and reliability. So identifying who can fit your lead time and consider the cost implication is critical.

 

8. Specific Consideration

 

 8.1 Government Standards

 

Stringent government standards and regulations must be followed to ensure quality and safety is maintained. Unfortunately, a number of PCB providers disregard and flout the rules. Consequently, there is need to shop for a company that is not just experienced in assembling PCBs but one that is able to navigate the tedious government regulations. They should have a documented framework for internal operations that check every part of their work right from initial design to the final quality controls.

 

 8.2 Products

 

It is very easy not to mention the products when talking about what you need to consider when evaluating PCB assembly providers. However, if you are a regular user of PCB products, the quality of the product is a critical thing that you cannot afford to ignore. Note that the quality of the printed product affects the performance and the application of the product as well. Therefore the guiding principle here is to evaluate the product situation including the quality and the cost of the product.  

 

When checking on the quality of the product, it is also important to check if the manufacturing administration diagram has been applied during the process. Also, asking yourself whether administration improvement such as TQM and QCC has been implemented is critical. Also, you must ask questions on whether the engineering change order has been applied. Check whether it conforms to control evaluations including material inspection and administration as well as equipment calibration. Lastly, check the terms and condition and find out whether the waive principle as published in the terms and conditions have been applied or not.

 

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 8.3 Cost

 

You also need to ask yourself questions about the cost at which you will procure the products. Check out if there is any possibility of cost reduction. Ask yourself whether it is possible to procure same products elsewhere at more competitive prices. If you choose to analyze the cost, you need to do it in two aspects:

 

• Ensuring that the price quotation given does not include the extra or hidden cost that will impact on your company in future.

• Ensuring that there is a clear policy on discounts. A PCB provider that provides constant discount including free tooling cost and discount reduction is essential.

 

Conclusion

 

I am aware that it is difficult to settle on a reliable PCBA fabricator. The market is flooded with many PCB Assembly providers that make it difficult for you to single out one that can fulfill your needs. Therefore, inspecting the company’s many links may be necessary. Notice that there are a variety of factors that may affect your decision when sourcing PCB assemblies. Some may affect them positively while others may have a negative impact. It is for this reason that we recommend due diligent and extensive research when searching for PCB Assembly providers. The questions that I mentioned above could be helpful you can refer to when evaluating the vendors.

 

Flickr photos from the group WELLPCB Project