No matter your company is an EMS (electronics manufacturing service) provider or OEM (original equipment manufacturer), defining suitable sourcing portfolio for PCB (printed circuit board) and PCB components is a strategic task with great significance for your company. After all, making prospective decisions is beneficial for your company's competitiveness improvement. Successful PCB sourcing portfolio formulation involves lots of aspects, including prototype, PCB fab, PCB assembly, electronics sourcing, components sourcing, PCB material sourcing etc. all of which will be discussed in this article with some essential PCB sourcing principles provided and listed in the end based on which reliable PCB procurement strategies will be formulated.
Elements You Have to Take into Consideration on PCB Sourcing
Just as introduced at the beginning, lots of elements play a contributive role in PCB sourcing strategies formulation and it's difficult and meaningless to list them one by one. What you need is what you have to keep in mind during PCB sourcing procedure. Briefly speaking, the primary elements you have to take into consideration on PCB sourcing can be classified into two categories: something about you and your company and something about your partner.
a. Something about You and Your Company
Prior to selecting PCB fabricators, it's essential for you and your company to be fully aware of current situation of your company and your products.
On one hand, you should make clear at what level your products stay, ordinary type or high-end type, which directly leads you to pick up PCB fabricators with corresponding manufacturing capabilities. For ordinary electronic products, you should rely on a contract manufacturer performing well in mass-volume production with shorter lead time. Manufacturing capabilities, especially those indicating theirs on advanced PCBs like Flexible PCB, Flex-Rigid PCB, HDI PCB, Thick Copper PCB etc., however, are not so protruding. After all, as long as their manufacturing capabilities are compatible with the requirement of your ordinary electronics products, it's enough already. When it comes to high-end electronic products, nevertheless, what you should care about most is generally nothing but manufacturing capability and product quality.
On the other hand, you have to make clear of your cost and lead time. Money is the shadow of sourcing and it is usually an element calling for the most sensitivity. There are so many printed circuit board manufacturers available providing numerous quotations among which the most cost-effective you regard to be should be picked up. Lead time is closely related with your products' time to market and further the speed of your gain on your investment. If you cooperate with a PCB fabricator usually prolonging lead time, it must be very tough and unacceptable. Therefore, you should be aware of your lead time requirement and deadline you can accept.
b. Something about Your Contract Manufacturer
As you're evaluating a circuit board contract manufacturer you're ready to cooperate with, only two consideration aspects are enough: manufacturing capabilities and manufacturing volume.
When it comes to capabilities of printed circuit board manufacturers, the following spec items should be focused on: layer count, copper weight, substrate material, board thickness, via aperture, surface finish, aspect ratio etc.
Furthermore, other items also play an important role in contributing to capabilities of a printed circuit board manufacturer such as certifications like ISO9001, UL and RoHS, IPC quality grade, lead-free requirement etc. because some electronic products are required to be marked by them.
As far as manufacturing volume is concerned, there're three classifications: low volume, mid volume and mass volume. All PCB fabricators feature their own manufacturing scale. Based on their manufacturing capabilities, equipment level and engineering staff expertise, printed circuit board manufacturers perform differently when they go for PCB fabrication with different volumes. When evaluating their manufacturing capability, you should take manufacturing volume into consideration and pick up the manufacturer performing best in terms of your desired volume.
Essential Principles You Have to Conform to during PCB Sourcing
Principle#1: There's no the best but the most suitable provider.
Each company has been striving to find the best PCB provider. But such a myth is usually available that the best printed circuit board manufacturer works best for you. Just like what is discussed in previous part, what you need to consider when selecting PCB manufacturers covers two directions: you and your partner. Thus, what you really need is not the best PCB provider but the most suitable one.
What leads to the PCB manufacturer working best for you includes manufacturing capability, skilled manufacturing volume, cost, lead time, communication etc. Based on this principle, it can be concluded that local or international, the best falls on the most suitable. As a matter of fact, this principle helps you eliminate some limitations that were burden in the process of PCB manufacturer determination. As a result, you don't need to worry too much about limitations narrowing your selection range. The wider range you are confronted with, the more suitable one you'll definitely find.
Principle#2: Stable procurement strategy guarantees smooth electronics manufacturing.
Every company expects to stably and consistently grow, which largely depends on stable procurement strategy implementation. PCB sourcing strategy consists of substrate material sourcing, copper foil sourcing and even components sourcing as long as PCB assembly is required. As a result, as modification takes place on your procurement strategy, a lot of later phases will be thereafter affected including product quality, lead time and finally overall cost. Thus, as long as a reliable printed circuit board manufacturer is determined based on your technology and volume requirement, it's optimal to keep on cooperating with it for the highest stability and the largest progress of your company.
Another advantage of sticking to stable procurement strategy lies in gradual cost reduction. For example, tooling cost will be saved for your reorder on bare PCBs and assembled PCBs at PCBCart, leading to overall cost reduction, which is beneficial to your long-term progress and gain.
Principle#3: Reliable determination depends on complete observation and verification.
To accurately evaluate a PCB fabricator, you should make 100% preparations to guarantee that the ready-to-be contract manufacturer is credible and reliable. Some companies perform themselves as PCB manufacturer but they are actually a fables PCB provider who buys custom PCB boards from manufacturers and then sell them to you. As a result, it will arouse higher cost and longer lead time together with piles of communications. Therefore, it's optimal for you to pay an official visit to the company before quotations and orders submission. Furthermore, you can actually know their genuine status through trying PCB prototyping service they provide. A prototype PCB will tell you anything about the manufacturer.
Reach PCBCart, a China Professional PCB Solution Provider for Your PCB Sourcing Demands
Established in 2005, PCBCart has been providing quality guaranteed full range PCB production services from PCB prototype, PCB fabrication, components sourcing, electronic assemblies, logistics services for worldwide companies of all sizes. We are flexible and good at balancing high quality, high service, quick lead time and lower cost. Reach us here to discuss your project! We will provide practical and cost-effective solution asap.
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