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

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

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.

Efficient Purchasing to Accelerate PCB Assembly

Knowing when to source materials can accelerate the schedule of your PCB build and significantly reduce the transition from engineering design phase to product delivery.  Purchasing material too early can result in procuring material that may be unnecessary for the final design.  Likewise, waiting too long to begin the purchasing will likely lead to an unnecessarily extended production time.  In purchasing timing can make or break a production schedule.  Not every build is the same but the following guidelines can provide a path to efficient and timely purchasing decisions.

When a design is 50% complete, it is time to get a budgetary quote and DFM from the PCB fabrication source and an assembly provider.  At that time, ask the assembly provider for their list of consigned material requirements.  These are an outline of the documents, labeling and material requirements for the assembly process to proceed efficiently and without significant additional preparation.

When the design is 80% complete and the major components have been chosen, it is time to get the initial quote for the component material kit.  The list of material requirements for your chosen assembly provider should be provided with the RFQ.  The material quote and feedback should be provided within 4 hours to 48 hours from the request.

The feedback on the initial Bill of Materials quote should include:

  • any obsolete components and suggested options for replacement
  • lead-time for components and suggested options for items which will impact the initial build
  • an alert for any components found identified by the manufacturer as End of Life
  • any components which need additional prep for the assembly process and estimated time

Resolve any issues from the feedback on the initial BoM; finding replacements or approving suggested alternate components.  Components, which are design-firm and have a lead-time, should be authorized to be purchased so the component lead-time and finalizing of the design / layout can run concurrent.

With the design 100% complete, the board fabrication and the remainder of the components can be ordered.

If you need help planning your PCB assembly or would like to discuss your upcoming project with a professional project coordinator, send me a note or call.  We’ll be glad to discuss how we can help to improve your product delivery timeframe.

Cherie@cic-inc.com
www.cic-inc.com
(530) 626-6168 Read More

How to Kit Components Prior to Assembly

Anyone can use the internet to locate and buy the components for a PCB assembly.

Why is “Kitting” important to the PCB Assembly? Kitting is the term used to describe the function of bringing all material requirements together. With all required items received, verified, placed in suitable packaging and given to the assembly facility; the assembly process may then begin.  Sounds simple.  So why do the Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS) providers encourage professional kitting services?

Professional kitting services can be found within, or independent of, an assembly facility. With either choice, the function of bringing all material requirements together is essential for the assembly process to perform with the highest efficiency.  Professional Kitting services far exceed the simple act of finding and buying.

· The Bill of Material (BOM) descriptions and the material call-outs are reviewed for any discrepancies.

· Authorized sources for materials are to be found and the BEST source for availability and pricing requirements is evaluated and identified.

· If availability conflicts with the assembly timeline, options need to be found and presented to the BOM owner for approval.

· A Costed BOM should be given to the purchaser of the Kit or BOM owner for approval prior to any purchase.

· With approval, the purchasing is completed based on the Costed BOM.

· All purchased materials are tracked to ensure on-time delivery.

· Incoming materials are counted, inspected and verified with the manufacturers datasheet to ensure the item ordered is the item received.

· Industry standards for ESD prevention are utilized to ensure the condition of all components.

· Materials are identified, organized and packaged to present to the assembly for efficient production.

Professional kitting services are appreciated for the many functions performed, especially the pre-screening and verification of the electronic components.  No assembly line should EVER be down due to incorrect or missing components!  Using a professional kitting service ensures the efficient assembly process and timely delivery of PCB projects.

When evaluating professional kitting service providers, please include CIC, Inc. on the list.  California Integration Coordinators, Inc. has focused exclusively on  kitting services since 1988 and is continually setting the bar for all kitting service providers.  For more information call for any of the Project Coordinators (530) 626-6168 or email cic@cic-inc.com.

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.

5 reasons to outsource PCB component kitting

PCB assembly is the process of placing all electronic components on the printed circuit board exactly as the design plan dictates.  Some assembly designs can require 100’s of different components.  Those components are purchased through a variety of Authorized Distributors.  With complicated builds requiring hundreds of components it is not unusual to purchase from 5 to 15 different distribution sources. 
Imagine the time, attention and manpower it takes to place, receive, inspect, approve and organize for line readiness:
          ·        15 separate shipments
          ·        15 email notifications/issue alerts
          ·        15 packages to track
          ·        15 boxes to inspect
Now imagine the outsource option requiring 1 purchase order.  Shortly after placing the purchase order you receive 1 complete kit containing all the components required, with each component type already inspected, full trace-ability documented, and prepared for the assembly line.
Top 5 Reasons to Outsource
#1 – The electronic component kit is TIME (which can be translated to multiple trained, skilled staff members).  TIME = MONEY
#2  – Eliminating the numerous problems which arise with distribution warehouse picking errors, damage in shipping, etc.  These issues take time to resolve.
#3 – The knowledge base gained when partnering with outsourced staff whose only role is to understand the marketplace, the various manufacturer’s, the requirements of the assembly floor. Partnering with a staff that is knowledgeable on how to calculate assembly attrition, read datasheets, understand the part numbering systems and find alternate sources or drop-in replacement components to recommend.
#4 – The efficiency gained in the PCB assembly process.  The electronic component kit is prepared to be auditable, quick and efficient.  With a successful audit, the PCB pick and place assembly process can begin immediately saving precious TIME ( = MONEY) for the assembly.
#5 – Full trace-ability of all the components.  Lot codes, date codes and distribution sources should held for at least 2 years to aid in identifying any errant issue down the road.  
Outsourcing procurement and kitting has proven to be a very successful option for OEM’s and assembly facilities.  The cost savings and efficiency gained by partnering with a kitting source can more than pay for the service!  www.cic-inc.com

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