Collaboration in Manufacturing

We’ve all heard  “jack of all trades, master of none”.  I first heard this expression as a child, as my father tackled most every maintenance job around our house.  In manufacturing, there are numerous providers offering a “one-stop shop”;  we can do it all mantra.  But are all manufacturing services provided to high industry standards?

Collaboration is the key to successfully offering an array of high-quality manufacturing services.   Discover and define your niche.  This is where the focus of investment on training, tools, and equipment are found.   Next, define the manufacturing services which have the least investment or focus.  Search  out and find the manufacturer offering the very best of those manufacturing services.  Narrow your choices down to the provider with the best reputation for customer focus, operating standards, and quality.  Offer a collaboration partnership with the manufacturing provider(s) which complement your forte.

Sharing manufacturing expertise will expand opportunities by providing the best all-encompassing end product between the collaborating entities.  The real winners are the customer and your business reputation, for truly offering only the best.

Know your PCB Manufacturing Partners!

The entire process of realizing a populated functional PCB Board is fraught with details and pitfalls.   Typically, there is no sole source for the bare board, the components, and the assembly.  Often, there are complimentary partnerships involved with various aspects of the manufacturing process.  Who manages all entities involved?

It’s very possible to contact a board fabrication source and ask for fully populated boards.  They have experience working with component and assembly sources.  The board source will make the contacts and will interface with the various sources to meet the requirements.   It’s possible to achieve the same result by initially contacting an assembly source, or a components source.   So where is the best place to start to ensure the highest quality, best pricing, and guaranteed delivery?

The truth is you can start your project with anyone of the entities mentioned above.  BUT, insist on transparency.  Ask to know who the partners will be in the overall process.  If you have a preference in a specific manufacturing source, say so.  Clearly state what the expectation is and hold each entity responsible for the quality of their workmanship.

For any questions on PCB Project Management, contact one of our Project Coordinators for answers.  We’re here to help.

www.cic-inc.com

Cherie Myers

5 Rules of BoM Scrubbing

Our Project Coordinators have been helping customers ensure successful builds with their PCB assembly materials since 1988.  They have some secrets to share which are often the key to successful PCB assemblies.

The biggest source of potential problems is in the Bill of Materials (BoM).  When a new or legacy product is to be built, the BoM needs close scrutiny for issues; this is called BoM Scrubbing.

  1. Look up the manufacturer’s part number called out in the BoM and compare it to the description on file to ensure all parameters match.
  2. When looking up the manufacturer’s part number, is there availability or is this component noted as NRND (Not recommended for new design) or Last Time Buy? This may not be a serious concern if the requirement is supporting a final legacy build.  If this is a component chosen for a new product, alternates should be found.
  3. Compare the number of reference designations to the quantity required. Occasionally, during the design stage, removal or additions of locations may not carry through to the quantity required.
  4. Is the manufacturer’s part number complete? Often, manufacturer’s part numbers will have the basic part number on the datasheet, but the order code will be the part number plus the package code.  Make sure the package code is included.
  5. Are their approved alternates included in the BoM? Approved alternates, especially on commodity components, can help the project stay on target with pricing and availability when there are changes in the marketplace.

Doing a BoM Scrub will provide the buyers with a clean BoM and ensure the materials are exactly as intended for the PCB assembly.

Any questions or comments, please feel free to contact Cherie or visit our website for additional information www.cic-inc.com.

Which is best: Manual or programmed component quoting processes?

Quoting a Bill of Materials (BoM) for an upcoming PCB build can be a time-consuming project.  There are several distributors who offer upload tools which purport to streamline the process.

We have come to rely on automation for efficiency in manufacturing, but is this an assumption we can carry over to the quoting process?

Which is best: Manual or Automated component quoting processes?

Data

Any component discrepancy or callout error must to be caught during the quoting, procurement, and kitting processes. Care must be taken to root out issues to eliminate expensive errors and delays during the PCB build. Even some of the best enterprise databases can hold undetected entry errors. It often takes a human eye to detect and resolve these issues.  The manual quoting process will uncover:

  • a discrepancy between the component BoM description and the manufacturer’s part number call-out
  • an obsolete manufacturer’s part number (non-RoHS, revised, or no longer used p/n’s) and can provide the latest manufacturer’s part number with availability
  • the most appropriate and available media type per manufacturer’s part number (e.g. 250 vs. 3K reel or bulk vs. reel)
  • best available upgrade should the call-out be unavailable (e.g. flash gold vs. tin)

Manual BoM scrubbing and quoting are necessary to confirm discrepancies in the manufacturer’s part number call-out, attrition quantities, and available alternates.

Time

A manual BoM quote process will ensure that component availability meets the timeline.  If any component availability cannot meet the build date, an alternative component can be suggested.  If no alternates are found, the engineer is contacted for insight or options.

Manufacturability

The PCB assembly process requires some component attrition. The manual quoting process accounts for attrition in ways an automated system can not.  A quoting specialist understands the capabilities of the assembly facility and the build requirements. Proper attrition will eliminate shortages during assembly. This ensures the build will be complete without interruption or delay.

Summary

Though we have come to rely upon the automated processing it is not always the most efficient method to fill your BoM requirements. Keep in mind even the best BOM upload sites may not represent every manufacturer.  Uploads to several distributor sites may be needed to cover all components.

If a manual quote better suits your current requirements, consider California Integration Coordinators, Inc.   Call and discuss your project or send an email to Cherie@cic-inc.com.

www.cic-inc.com

Supporting Legacy PCB Assembled Products

Many great electronic products  were produced 10 years ago or more.  If the function is true and the production quantities don’t justify a redesign to upgrade the board level components, the challenges are numerous.

There have been so many changes over the past  10 years within the electronic component industry that affect legacy product.  The conversion from leaded components to RoHS forced many manufacturers to reconsider which products were justified keeping in their portfolio.  Those who did support their products with a RoHS conversion often changed the part number.  Challenging the documented Bill of Materials and the buyers with both obsolescence and updated part numbers.

The semiconductor and passive manufacturer’s are trying to keep up with design engineers and are offering smaller component package sizes and are focused on the surface mount application.  The common sizes of 1206 and 0805 are now 0603, 0402 and smaller!  Dip packages are rare and many components are now exclusively offered in surface mount packages.  Manufacturer’s are adjusting production offerings to meet the demands.  The legacy electronic components in the larger package sizes are becoming less common and more difficult to source.

A long history within the electronic component arena is extremely valuable.   Sourcing, procurement and kitting to support legacy product is now an “art-form.”  California Integration Coordinators, Inc., has been focused on supplying board level components to OEM’s and Assembly Facilities since 1988.  Our Project Coordinators on staff have a combined average of 10 years exclusive to electronic component sourcing.

Tell us  the issues your legacy BoM faces and allow us to help you.  Call (530) 626-6168 and we will assign an experienced Project Coordinator to you.

Cherie@cic-inc.com

www.cic-inc.com

 

Advantages of Electronic Component Procurement and Kitting

We have come to learn that not all things are equal in outsourcing.

At one time outsourcing was a way to eliminate routine,  low skill, business functions. The other side of outsourcing is that it can be a great tool for efficiency and growth of business.  Procurement outsourcing and kitting of electronic components has earned its place as a key advantage for high-end, technical business applications (OEM’s and EMS providers alike).

Procurement outsourcing and kitting of electronic components makes use of specialists with skills, assets, and expertise that are specific to your industries needs.  This kind of expertise allows a fluid transition from concept to creation, allowing you to focus on the core competencies of your business.  Your procurement specialist has the contacts, expertise, and buying leverage to see your project to completion on time and on budget.

Outsourcing through a specialist in the electronics industry means that the risks associated with product procurement and unexpected costs resulting from erroneous components and the resulting downtime are minimized.

Advantages:

  • Reduce purchasing impact of adding multiple new suppliers and purchase order costs
  • Eliminate time/cost of receiving, verifying in-bound materials and inventory accounting
  • Eliminate the warehouse demand to pick and pack 100’s of lines of materials for PCB assembly
  • Reduce design engineering time by receiving suggested available alternates for obsolete items

Consider California Integration Coordinators, Inc. an ISO 9001 certified and ITAR registered company specializing in PCB related sourcing, kitting and procurement since 1988.

Acknowledging the Electronic Manufacturing Craftsman

Purchasing and engineering can sometimes mistakenly classify the production of the electronic assembly as a commodity.

There is true craftsmanship in those performing electronics manufacturing services.  Artisans perform the design for manufacturability review, quote the BOM components, source creatively to keep the build on time, kit and prepare the components for assembly, engineer the assembly process and artisans place the components.

The dictionary definition of Craftsmanship:  a member of a skilled trade; someone who practices a craft; artisan.

Synonyms for craftsmanship (noun skill, creativity)

aptitude, artistry, expertise, inventiveness, knowledge, mastery, method, profession

An online search of Electronics Manufacturing turns up pages of options; one begins to imagine why it could be mistakenly identified as a commodity.  Look below the surface and the differences begin to emerge.   The variety of equipment, specialized skills and focus, all help to differentiate one from another.  When searching for the perfect partner for an electronic assembly, understand the skills needed for the assembly.

Matching the PCB assembly needs with the skilled artisans can be difficult, but a bad match can cause a project to miss the timeline or the performance projections.  Do your due diligence to find the right match.  Understand the assembly requirements; search for local talent, get referrals, and interview the artisans.

Electronic manufacturing services are not a commodity.   We are fortunate to have such skilled artisans available.   Collaboration and partnerships with talented individuals will positively impact any PCB assembly projects.

Challenges of Lean Manufacturing in High Mix/Low Volume

Manufacturing in the USA has undergone highs and lows over the last 20 years.  This is especially true in the assembly of printed circuit boards.  There have been the high times with numerous manufacturing sites popping up, investing in state of the art equipment and running 24 hours with 2 to 3 shift changes. 
The most enticing manufacturing projects are high volumes of a stable product with no variables.   These jobs run long enough to develop lean processes and efficient material handling. 
There are many products which do not have a high volume demand such as medical equipment or semi-custom products.  Some electronic manufacturing facilities accept a mix of high volume assembly projects along with the smaller build quantities.   Boutique assembly houses tend to cater exclusively to the low volume projects and have found their niche market. 
There are challenges unique to running multiple variations / projects through assembly in low volumes:
  • ·         High demand on administrative processes and scheduling to maintain floor capacity
  • ·         Documentation and labor in machine changeovers
  • ·         Employee training
  • ·         Lack frequency and/or volume to develop lean processes or process improvements
  • ·         System management and data entry of P/N’s used only used once
  • ·         Material handling costs for ordering /pulling, verifying, and staging for set-up

Despite the challenges, there are electronic manufacturing facilities which have developed the expertise to provide high quality, affordable, low volume assemblies.   Employee retention and healthy partnerships may be two of the keys to address the challenges. 
  • ·         Employee training can be minimized with strong retention, good initial documentation and established best practices for small volume builds will cultivate lean processes at the start.
  • ·         System management and data entry of P/N’s to feed MRP as well as managing material handling issues can be resolved by outsourcing to a kitting provider to allow absolute focus on producing a quality assembly.

Focus, focus, focus.  Success is found in focusing on the strong suit and partnering with others who do the same. 

You can do anything, but not everything. —Anonymous

Controlling Costs moving PCB Design to Assembly

Design and layout are generally the most labor intensive elements of any new PC Board.  Once complete and moving into the realization stage, material component costs are typically 80% of the overall assembly costs. 
Message:
·         put safe guard measures in to all aspects of design and layout
·         pay special attention to materials for realization
Utilize the software checks for design and layout.  Follow design guidelines and have the files double checked prior to board fabrication.
Use a professional material procurement source for the kitting of the components prior to the assembly process.   A professional procurement source will:
·         double check the BOM for part descriptions to match the assigned manufacturer’s part number
·         provide lead-times and search for in-stock alternates to suggest for engineering approval
·         provide alert for any components Mfg has designated for “End of Life”
·         provide cost and can suggest cost saving alternates for engineering approval
·         Scrub BOM – filling passive call-outs with Mfg and Mfg P/N for procurement
2nd and 3rd spins can eat a project budget quickly.  Spend time and money wisely with professional services to reap the benefits of a project well done. 
California Integration Coordinators, Inc. has been providing professional procurement sourcing and kitting for 27 years with a full staff of experienced project coordinators.   Contact me with any questions or to discuss your upcoming project – Cherie Myers

More information at www.cic-inc.com

Quoting Tools

As Electronic Component Procurement and Kitting Service providers, we’re continually asked about our Quoting Tools.  What software do you prefer?  How do you handle the RFQ submissions to suppliers?  How many days or weeks do you average for your complete PCB material quote for the OEM project?

We have not found a tool which can compare to a well trained Project Coordinator in speed or accuracy. 
EMS buyers have software / quoting tools which require the data be “scrubbed”; manufacturer’s part numbers verified and data put into an upload ready format.  Distributor sales representatives, interfacing with tools on the receiving side of an RFQ, also need to verify data and work out any kinks.  Distribution often does not see all the information the customer provided, so any discrepancies are sent back to the EMS buyer as UNKNOWN or NO BID. 
Many of the stand-alone software tools, or ERP interface quote tools, require a great deal of user training but do they train buyers to be Project Coordinators?
EMS Project Coordinators are unique in their skill set and tenure matures them into valuable, key members of any EMS Project Team.  The difference is their ability to resolve manufacturing part number discrepancies quickly and to interface with the customer to ensure accuracy in quoting.  Project Coordinators skills also include the ability to read and understand manufacturer’s datasheets, find potential alternates to suggest to customer’s when lead-time or obsolescence challenge a customer’s timeline.   Given all the resources available, Project Coordinators can accurately and quickly source materials and document price, availability, lead-time and manufacturer’s part number status (i.e. NRND, Non-Stocking, Last Time Buy, etc.) for the OEM customer. 
Tools and software interface can have its reward but the human element still beats the current options.
Questions??  CIC-INC.com

I’d love to discuss adding a Project Coordinator to your upcoming project:  
Cherie@CIC-INC.com or (530) 626-6168