There are a lot of benefits to outsourcing your electronic assembly; including the ability to reduce manufacturing time and costs while potentially improving the quality of your PCB. However, these benefits depend greatly on the quality of the electronic assembly manufacturer that you end up working with. The following are eight things you should look into when you begin comparing different manufacturers to outsource your electronic assembly to:
There are a few ways that you can check the reputation of a manufacturer. First of all, it shouldn't be too difficult to find as long as they've been around for a few years. Secondly, you can ask companies who you may have a relationship with within the manufacturing industry for recommendations or opinions on certain manufacturers that they may have worked with. A good manufacturer should also be willing to provide references that you can contact.
When interviewing a manufacturer, pay attention to how they speak to you. Do they communicate clearly? Do they answer all of your questions directly or do they avoid them? How transparent are they? Manufacturers that are transparent tend to volunteer information about their processes instead of waiting for you to ask specific questions. Their tone is important too--you want to work with a manufacturer that is friendly. If they seem annoyed at your line of questioning, odds are they won't be very helpful when it comes to keeping you in the loop during the manufacturing process.
You'll want to make sure that the manufacturer uses modern technology and software that's up-to-date. There are many manufacturers out there that are still using technology or software that's outdated and possibly even obsolete, which means that their ability to manufacture modern devices will be limited. It will affect their ability to produce a high-quality product while sticking to your schedule. A good manufacturer will regularly invest in new technology and upgrade software as needed.
Don't outsource to a manufacturer unless they can prove to you that they have thorough quality assurance processes in place throughout every step of the production process. This helps minimize the risk of production problems, the malfunction of your product, and the use of non-conforming parts. Additionally, when such quality assurance processes are in place, it means that they are also documented, which helps limit your liability should any problems arise. A manufacturer should not only be able to describe their quality assurance processes to you, but they should also be able to provide recognized quality certifications.
Manufacturers who can provide customization in the process of creating your PCB will offer a huge advantage over those that can't. This is because they will more capable of meeting your specific design needs.
Production time is incredibly important. You'll want to find a manufacturer that has a reputation for delivering your PCB on time. If they fall behind due to a lagging process or delays caused by issues on the assembly line, it can cause all kinds of problems for you, including lost orders and penalties, both of which will hurt you financially. Look into their typical delivery time to determine whether they will be able to stick to the agreed upon schedule.
Different manufacturers offer different services, so you'll want to look into what they have to offer. One specific service that you should look out for is the ability to fix faults. For example, if an issue is detected in your PCBs following delivery, a manufacturer that fixes faults will be able to repair the issue in a quick and efficient manner.
Some manufacturers have in-development departments that can help you to create the initial prototype of your PCB. Such a manufacturer should be able to let you choose from a variety of different boards (from flexible boards to anti-vibration boards and more).
If you've decided to outsource your then make sure that you compare several different manufacturers. When doing your research and meeting with representatives from these various manufacturers, make sure that you look for these eight things.