As mentioned previously, the electronics manufacturing industry has seen much transformation and disruptions over the years, with the most notable being the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the pandemic's continual impact has proved to be a challenge for many manufacturers and supply chains, it does have a silver lining, as the manufacturing industry is now presented with the opportunity to improve its processes and in turn be more efficient than ever.
If we reflect upon what has happened in the past decade, we will realise that supply chains are no longer what they used to be, rather they have become more sophisticated and complex in their operations. Take for instance the supply chain for medical devices. During the pandemic, manufacturers were unable to cope with the rising global demand for relevant medical devices such as ventilators, as well as testing equipment and supplies. This in turn had a trickle down effect, as an increase in demand by the manufacturers for supplies also made the suppliers feel the pressure in catering to the manufacturers' demands.
Consider this, a single ventilator will require hundreds of unique components sourced from various countries, thus it's no wonder that manufacturers are dependent on a complex supply chain to ensure that everything is well managed and arriving on time lest it affects the manufacturing process and delivery of the products. Simply put, manufacturers are caught in an unenviable position of having to manage pressure from both sides.
Agility in Coping with Market Demands
In today's world, it can be tough for many companies to compete in this highly competitive business arena. Huge corporations are always working towards producing better products while reducing costs, and at the same time cope with the ever-evolving needs of the consumers and the ever-changing tide of the global economy. The only way for businesses to survive is to have agility. By knowing when to bend, pivot, or change to accommodate market forces, it will require deftness.
This is no different for the manufacturing industry, as it is also subjected to the same changing global market demands. As such, flexibility and agility are highly sought-after traits that manufacturers should have. Gone are the days of a design cycle and tests, but rather what customers now want to hear is "The product is ready to be rolled out in a week's time". As such, product design will now require the integration of both the manufacturing process and the complexity of the supply chain. Therefore choosing the right supply chain is as important as selecting the correct manufacturer, as a service provider that offers both will help manufacture and market the product within a shorter time frame.
Product Design Considerations
So, what are some things to consider when looking for an Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS) provider? It's a given that such manufacturers will need to have vast experience in product design as they can help customers design and develop products at a faster pace. Here is a list of capabilities a customer should consider when they seek out the services of an EMS provider:
Component Selection - A good manufacturer must be able to ensure End-Of-Life (EOL) availability for production quantities, source for alternative manufacturers for all specified components, be knowledgeable in both Ball Grid Array (BGA) and Quad Flat Package (QFP) packing processes, know when to eliminate trim pots when applicable, and most importantly provide sustainable design engineering.
Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Layout Considerations - The manufacturer must be adept at component placement planning, as well as know how to properly mark diode poles on the silkscreen layer and layers that are visible on the PCB or its break away tabs.
PCB Manufacturing and Assembly Process - The manufacturer should be well versed in various manufacturing grades and standards (IPC, military, aerospace, etc). The manufacturer's operations should also have minimal hand soldering, insertion, and assembly, as these three when done incorrectly will introduce quality issues.
Through-Hole Components - The manufacturer must ensure that its PCB tooling holes are non-plated for automation, its annular rings on through-hole pads are minimised, its Dual In-line Package (DIP) components are oriented the same way on volume boards, and its stand-up axial components are kept to a minimal, among others.
Wave Soldering - The manufacturer must be able to optimise its Surface Mount Technology (SMT) wave land patterns as well as component orientation for SMT components. The manufacturer must also be able to consider potential issues that arise from wave soldering, these include shadowing and skipping.
PCB Mechanical Properties - The manufacturer will know how to design the stackup properly. And designing a good stackup requires the knowledge of what the layers should be and how they should be arranged. There are many variables to be considered, and the manufacturer must know them. Another vital variable that the manufacturer will need to consider is the PCB's mechanical properties and how they are incorporated in the design of the stackup. Some of these properties include bending strength, peel strength, time to delamination, and material density.
PCB Specifications - The manufacturer must ensure that the PCBs adhere to the regulatory requirements of IPC-6011, IPC-6012D, IPC-6012E, IPC-6013D, and IPC-6013E.
PCB Testing Methods - The manufacturer must be aware of the various PCB testing methods in the industry. There are seven main types, they include:
- Automated Optical Inspection (AOI)
- Burn-In Testing
- Flying Probe Testing
- Functional Testing
- In-Circuit Testing
- X-Ray Inspection
- Other Functional Testing (e.g., solderability and contamination)
Backed by 50 Years of Experience and Expertise
With 50 years of experience and expertise in industrial design and manufacturing, PCI ensures that our global clients receive the quickest time-to-market solutions at the right cost without having to compromise any performance points. Specialising in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and firmware engineering, as well possessing cross-industry multi-disciplinary knowledge to help you take advantage of the latest technologies, PCI's engineering team is more than able in providing the best Design for Manufacturing solutions, paving the way for our customers to launch their products ahead of schedule.
Having worked with multiple global clients, we have contributed our design and manufacturing expertise across diverse markets, and we look forward to discussing how we can deliver world-class products to other business partners like yourself. If you are interested in what we can do, contact us today. You can either email us or call us to discuss a project, and we will outline what we can do for you, how much it will cost, and the timeline in which we will have it completed.
To produce better products while reducing costs, and at the same time cope with the changing needs of the consumers and the fluctuation of the global economy requires agility. As such, to survive, businesses must know when to pivot or change to accommodate market forces. The manufacturing industry is no different, as it is also subjected to the same changing global market demands. As such, flexibility and agility are traits that manufacturers should have. Gone are the days of a design cycle and tests, but rather what customers now want is product design that integrates both the manufacturing process and the complexity of the supply chain. Therefore, choosing the right supply chain is as important as selecting the correct manufacturer. PCI is one such service provider, as we can help our clients accelerate their product's time-to-market.