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

 

Electronic Component Inventory Management

Staff Contributor – Darrin Richards


The subject of managing inventory has been demonstrated and illustrated many times over.  So much so, employees, supervisors, and managers are bored with the topic.

However, the focus is redirected and the interest increases when the topic is on how to manage your customer’s inventory of electronic components after an assembly job of PC boards.  There is a sense of pride when the emphasis is on customer owned inventory and that “feel-good” feeling is realized once the cost savings is reported and the appreciation is received.  

The importance of managing excess inventory is equal to the component procurement process and acquiring those hard-to-find long lead items.  The underlining goal is to reduce PC assembly costs wherever possible.  And it begins with proper management of excess inventory. 

With a well-maintained inventory management process in place, the costs incurred by buying components only as requiredover the life of a PC board are captured.  Also, the following are potentially alleviated:
·                     Multiple purchase orders (internal personnel costs / overhead costs)
·                     Multiple shipping costs
·                     Multiple handling, inspection, and documentation of components
·                     Shortages due to component manufacturing fluctuations
·                     Unanticipated component obsolescence

In addition to saving internal labor and processing costs, there is also the value of purchasing at a higher volume and having longer reaction time to shortages or component obsolescence.

Inventory management of electronic components, specifically excess materials, still carry a cost.  The handling and counting of materials contain a cost associated with the process, but those costs return major savings in comparison to over-procuring components on an “as needed basis” for reoccurring PC assembly jobs.

Lastly, understanding the potential savings to justify the investment of materials upfront must be identified.  An evaluation of such savings needs to include:
·                     How many printed circuit boards are required each year?
·                     Are there multiple boards with common components?
·                     What is the current and projected PC build schedule?


If you are interested in having an evaluation performed, please let us know. Call (530) 626-6168 or send a note to either darrin@cic-inc.comor cherie@cic-inc.com

Finding alternate electronic components

During the course of purchasing electronic components to fulfill a Bill of Material (BOM), it is possible to come across a requirement that cannot be sourced.  Either the component has been listed as obsolete by a manufacturer or has a significant lead-time which jeopardizes a PCBA project timeline.  Now what?  Numerous options exist to try to keep the PCBA timeline.  An evaluation of the situation can be accomplished by following some of these suggestions.

1.  For passive components, can a tighter tolerance or a higher voltage be a simple option?

2.  Can the component be crossed to another component the original manufacturer may have designed to be a supersession; such as an upgraded component with additional features, etc.?  Open and compare the datasheets to ensure the Form, Fit, and Function are similar enough to pursue consideration.  Often, the manufacturer will note the supersession and will outline the additional features on the newest datasheet.

3.  Can the component be crossed to a “like” component from a different manufacturer? 
·    The easiest source is the “like” component manufacturer themselves.  Search the manufacturer website for a Cross Reference page.  By entering in the original component, the Cross Reference may indicate a comparable component. 
·    Use an authorized distributor’s website to see if a suggested alternate is listed by doing a search for the original component part number.
·    Subscribe to an electronic component search authority.  Several online organizations exist which sell subscriptions to their services and have engineering approved alternates available.
·    Use an authorized distributor’s parameter search to locate potential alternates.  This is the most difficult of the search options, as the datasheet comparison must be thorough and approved by the original design engineer.  (Keep in mind that some component packages identified on datasheets may be manufacturer specific.  Always compare the footprints.)

4.  Can the component be found with an independent distributor?  If pursuing this option, proceed with caution but keep in mind that some OEM’s have discontinued or reduced the use of a component and have too much stock.  They need an outlet to move the excess inventory. 

When challenged with fulfilling BOM requirements issues will often occur.  Hopefully, you will find the ideas provided to address these issues helpful. 

Overcoming issues is a challenge the Project Coordinators at California Integration Coordinators, Inc. face and overcome daily.  We are professionals focused solely on electronic component procurement and kitting for the assembly process.

We are always seeking additional ideas for dealing with the challenges of sourcing electronic component for an upcoming PCB assembly projects.  Please share your ideas with us with an email to Cherie@cic-inc.com or calling (530) 626-6168. 

Definition of Kitting in a Printed Circuit Board Assembly application

What Items Can Be Kitted?

Kitting is commonly used for electronic and board hardware components prior to the assembly process for printed circuit boards.  All components are verified, documented for traceability, and labeled for the specific circuit board scheduled for pick and place.  The prepared customized kit is then shipped to the EMS (chosen assembly facility) as one unit.
Why choose a Kitting Service?

Ordering, handling, packaging, and storing components can be very time consuming and expensive.   Kitting services can reduce the handling costs at the point of use, minimizing storage space, while providing a cost-effective solution that ensures all needed parts are provided when they are needed.
Easier Procurement – With kitting, one purchase order takes the place of several purchase orders and there are far less SKUs to manage.  Ordering kits with a single part number instead of many individual items makes your purchasing and accounts payable departments more efficient.
Greater Control of Inventory – Kits reduce the amount of stock numbers to manage and improve the productivity of the Stockroom and Pre-assembly Auditing staff.
Improved Organization & Space Reduction – Kits make it much easier and more efficient to organize components.  Instead of pulling individual parts from multiple locations,  all necessary components are within one shipment along with a Kit List outlining the quantity provided, the media type all in Line Item order.  Kits also remove the possible mistakes by pulling from a stockroom.
Saving Time –  Shipping and receiving time is reduced because parts come in one kit versus multiple items that would otherwise have to be stocked individually.
Less Labor and Increased Savings – Pre-sorted kits save time and labor by ensuring all necessary components are available at the point of assembly.  If parts are not in Kit form,  there are many more steps involved to search through inventory, pull parts and log usage.  Plus, individually-managed parts can be difficult to locate, which triggers extra man-hours and delays in production.
Greater Efficiencies – Having all necessary parts readily available when needed makes your operation more efficient; it allows the customer to focus on what it does best (manufacturing) and allows the industrial distributor to do what they do best (supply chain management).

Interested in learning more about Kitting Services?  Please call Cherie at (530) 626-6168 or send a note to Cherie@cic-inc.com.  Additional information can be found at www.cic-inc.com.

Adding Value for PCBA Material Kits

There can be various sources for Printed Circuit Board Material Kits for the Assembly of the PCB’s. 
An Assembly facility or Engineer might choose to order from multiple material sources direct, they might choose a distributor who advertises Kitting services, or they could choose a Kitting Service Provider.  Not all sources provide the same level of services so it’s good to understand the services provided by those sources and the value those services bring to a project.
Assembly facilities could look for added value from material source(s) with:
  • Timely turn on material RFQ’s
  • Open quote / order status reports
  • Clean Kits (materials confirmed)
  • Easy to audit Kit and line ready
  • Attrition / media based on assembly floor requirements
OEM Engineers / Project Mgrs could look for added value from material source(s) with:
  • Quotes to source every BOM requirement
  • Timely turn on RFQ’s
  • Open quote / order status reports
  • Suggest alternates for obsolete or long lead-time (whenever possible)
  • Focus on the project timeframe to meet build due date
  • Offer best PC board fabrication and assembly sources to balance expertise and cost
  • Source from Manufacturers direct or from Authorized Distribution only
  • Inspect and verify incoming materials to manufacturer’s datasheet
  • Be able to provide evidence of traceability to manufacturers on materials for at least 12 months
  • Manage all excess materials to utilize and reduce cost on future PC builds
If your project could benefit from the additional services which add value and timeliness, consider contacting California Integration Coordinators, Inc. to discuss your project requirements.   

www.cic-inc.com or call me (530) 626-6168

Problems in PCB Paradise

Guest Blogger : Justin Cary


Your design team has just completed your newest PCB project and sent off the final Gerber’s to customer “X”. You can finally relax knowing that soon your newest PCB design will be headed through the board fabrication process and into your customer’s hands. It is a great day.


Is that your phone ringing?

Oh, it’s your customer, probably calling to congratulate you on a job well done. You eagerly answer your phone expecting the praise your perfect PCB board design deserves. Smiling happily (because they can hear it when you smile) you answer your phone in your cheeriest voice. “Hi, Steve! What do you think of the … design…?”

You don’t hear them smiling on the other end of the line. In fact, this is not the reception you expected at all. “Say that again.” You get in edgewise. “Did you just say that IC is OBSOLETE?”

“Yes,” the very angry voice on the other end of the line says. “And half the components you called out have lead times of 8 weeks or more. Do you have any suggestions?”

“Of course, you say in your most confident voice. I am sure I can procure some alternates for you.”

The voice on the line begins to simmer down and by the end the conversation you have promised to find a solution to his problems right away.

But you’re a designer. The design was good. If only there was a resource out there that could do this work for you so you could get back to what you’re really good at, design. It would be great to have a kitting and procurement “ace” up your sleeve right now.

But no! You get to slog though search engines to finding an alternate. Instead of some well deserved R&R it’s websites and data sheets for you, Buddy!

The next day as your relating this disaster to your colleagues at the office and explaining that this is why you aren’t your bright eyed and bushy tailed usual self this morning.  Your mentor; laughing and shaking her head, pulls you aside. ”Why are you doing all this. You’re a designer. Let me send you a link to California Integration Coordinators.”

Your colleague sends you the link and as you begin looking over their site you realize this is exactly the kind of expert service you needed to help you out of last night’s debacle.

With 25 years of PCB kitting and procurement experience and an excellent reputation in the industry you realize that they could have headed off the problems that ruined your previous evening. They have the expertise to suggest component alternates, source materials, and provide your customer with a professionally kitted, pick-and-place ready product. All that searching that has you drinking your sixth cup of coffee for the day could have been handled for you.

https://cic-inc.com/                                                           530 626-6168

Attrition Guidelines for PCB Assembly from a Kitting Perspective

To ensure the success of a PCBA, the materials must be procured to meet the assembly criteria.  The assembly criteria and intended processes need to be shared with the kitting staff prior to the quoting and procuring of materials.

Important criteria to be identified and understood include the type of assembly processes required: 

·         Will assembly produce a First Article for approval prior to completing the build? 

·         Is there a plan for multiple set-ups and tear-downs of the assembly line to accomplish the full build quantity?

Multiple set-ups and tear-downs will require extra material.  There is an inherent loss involved with each process and the material excess must be gauged properly to avoid running out of required material for placement.

Additional criteria to be considered is the type of placement equipment:

·         Will this placement be done by hand?
·         If not, does the equipment to be used for this build require all materials be on reels?
·         Is there a leader / trailer requirement identified by the assembly facility which should be used when planning the materials?

    Understanding the intended assembly process and unique requirements is critical to quoting and procuring materials to accommodate the PCB Assembly, and ensure the success of the build.

    Success of each and every PCB Assembly quoted, procured and kitted by California Integration Coordinators, Inc. undergoes the scrutiny of the intended processes and placement. 

    If you have any questions or comments regarding Attrition Guidelines, we’d welcome your input.  Contact me at Cherie@cic-inc.comor call (530) 626-6168.

    www.cic-inc.com        ISO 9001:2008 Certified

    Advantages of Specialized Outsourcing

    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. There is another side of outsourcing that is often overlooked and which can be a great tool for the growth and efficiency of business.  Procurement outsourcing has earned its place as a key advantage for high-end, technical business applications.

    Procurement outsourcing is a resource that makes use of specialists with skills, assets, and expertise that are specific to your industries needs.  In high tech industries it is imperative that the person procuring components has background in your industry.  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 misorders and the resulting downtime are minimized.

    Today’s businesses rely on continual improvement to products and processes.  This same rule should be considered when selecting a company to fill your procurement needs.  Here is a list of questions to ask when selecting a company to represent your purchasing and procurement needs:

    • 1.       Do they have a reputation of outstanding customer satisfaction?
    • 2.       Do they have a measurable plan for continuous improvement in efficiency and productivity?
    • 3.       Do they have the certifications necessary to meet the standards of your industry?
    • 4.       Do they have staff with knowledge in electronic components that will allow them to maximize the benefits to your company?

    If you are interested in continuing this conversation regarding the benefits of procurement outsourcing please contact us.  California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is an ISO 9001 certified company specializing in PCB and PCB related sourcing, kitting and procurement for over 25 years.  www.cic-inc.com   

    Electronic Component Traceability

    Recently, there have been numerous articles and guidelines published to help the electronics community understand and avoid suspect materials.  As a trusted electronics project management service provider, we source, procure and kit for PCB assemblies while protecting our customer’s product.  
    We’ve recently incorporated a couple steps to our processes; our 25 year reputation is worth a little added effort!
    Rule 1.  Buy components only through Authorized Distribution and/or the Manufacturer.  
    If a component is obsolete or cannot be crossed and we are forced to go to an Independent Distributor or a Broker, we proceed very cautiously.  The customer is given the opportunity to approve the source, request component testing, or provide another solution.
    Rule 2.  All components received, despite the source, are counted and then visually inspected.  
    The inspection includes the part markings, the condition of the component and the packaging.  Distributors warehouse staff can make mistakes; wrong part being shipped under the ordered part number have been found.  This bit of detective work is aided by using a good digital microscope and the manufacturer’s datasheet to confirm the part ordering number with the part received; verifying the part marking.
    Rule 3.  Handle components following the ANSI/ESD S20.20 – 2007 Standard.  
    Internal procedures should validate the working environment and ensure confidence in the ability to avoid an ESD event during handling.
    Rule 4.  Distributor’s and manufacturer’s package labeling or documentation will include the lot code/date code of the components and other valuable traceability information.
    Retain this information for determined length of time (a minimum of 12 months).  This proof of traceability to the manufacturer is valuable should a component not perform to specifications.
    Avoiding counterfeit materials is becoming quite a challenge.  I believe the customer who chooses to outsource the procurement of electronic components deserves and expects the highest level of confidence in the end product.
    If you have found additional processes which can help in the avoidance of counterfeit components, please share them with me.  cherie@cic-inc.comor (530) 626-6168.

    Kitting Materials for PCB Assembly

    Anyone can use the internet to locate and buy the components needed to build a PC board.  
    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, placed in a suitable package 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.  The function of professional kitting goes far beyond 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. is now celebrating 25 years and is continually setting the bar for all kitting service providers.  For more information call (530) 626-6168 or email Cherie@cic-inc.com.