Speed is often everything in taking products from development to release. The faster the delivery of the “brains” (assembled printed circuit boards), the quicker to testing, making adjustments and launch can occur. The biggest obstacle to overcome is often the board level component lead-times.
Sometimes your product’s unique performance is linked directly to a unique component. Unique components often are not STOCK but special order items. Lead-times are a PCB manufacturing reality. Identifying your boards unique components early in the design process and planning your development timeline will allow the components to be pre-ordered and arrive prior to the day your printed circuit boards will be assembled.
Fluctuations in basic material availability, component demand and “mother nature” can create lead time challenges in commonly available components. You can prepare by identifying alternates at the design phase and choosing drop-in replacements from different manufacturers.
If possible, avoid choosing components at the far end of the spectrum on a manufacturer’s datasheet. For instance, if a capacitor is available in a specific package from 4 volts to 150 volts from one manufacturer and all other manufacturers offering range is between 6.3 volts and 100 volts, consider utilizing the more common range.
Have an electronic components life-cycle check done for all board level components. Make sure the components (especially the unique components) aren’t identified for obsolescence during your planned active product life cycle. Software is available to aid in quick checks for alternates, life-cycle verifications, etc.
Any additional thoughts for minimizing the time from concept to market? Please share as we are always trying to find new ways to help our customers build to meet their time-frame.