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.

6 Steps to Prepare Components for Successful PCB Assembly

Ordering, confirming, tracking, verifying, preparing and identifying electronic components for a PC assembly can be very time-consuming and a bit tricky.

1.  We highly recommend ordering components only from an Authorized  Distribution source or directly from the manufacturer.  Rule #1 will help avoid the issue of counterfeit components.

2.  Confirming the component intended delivery date, expediting (as necessary), and tracking the order until delivery takes effort.  It’s a necessary step to avoid missing shipments going unnoticed until it’s critical.

3.  Once materials arrive, they need to be counted; but most importantly, verified.  All handling of the components needs to be done within an ESD safe zone with ESD safe handling processes.  A digital microscope is a valuable tool as you read part markings, values, etc.  Always decipher or compare with the datasheet to know that the component ordered is indeed the part received.  Most all issues are uncovered during the verification process.

4.  Should a board-level performance issue arise, it is very important to have retained the original Lot Code and Manufacturing data from the shipping packages of each of the components to ensure the traceability.  This information will be required to enlist manufacturers support.

5.  Prepare the components for the chosen assembly requirements.  Each assembly facility has a list of consigned kit requirements.  These requirements need to be under consideration at the time of purchase and again at material prep time.  They may include items such as length of leaders and trailers, reel preference, allowable types of splicing, and overage (attrition) guidelines.

6.  Label the components to provide an efficient and  accurate audit prior to assembly.  The label does not need to be fancy.  The information must be easy to read, consistent with the original BOM, and contain all pertinent information.

Assembled PC boards can consist of thousands of components.  At best, one issue slipping by can throw a deadline out the window;  the worst that can happen is unimaginable.

In addition to the processes identified so far, the kit preparation may involve numerous phone calls, issuing of purchase orders, packing slips, invoices, RMA resolutions, etc.  California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is known as a leader in the area of procurement and kit preparation.  Call us – (530) 626-6168 if you have any questions or would like some assistance.

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.

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

Capabilities of CIC, Inc.

California Integration Coordinators, Inc. has focused on Procurement and Kitting electronic components for PCB Assemblies since 1988.  We’ve developed processes and proprietary software which allow us to present a real-time quote for components, including lead-time, availability, and part number clarifications, within hours.  Our goal is to compliment our customer’s needs as a partner. 
CIC’s experienced project coordinators are assigned to a customer.  This central point of contact specializes in understanding the individual requirements and expectations of that customer.  It’s like having a Personal Shopper for your PCB Assemblies.
We’ve helped numerous customers through the years.  The following is an example of a typical engagement. 

CIC was approached for the component kitting of prototype boards.  The potential customer had a staff of production buyers utilizing an established MRP system equipped to forecast and manage long-term production builds.  Unfortunately, their system was not nimble enough to adjust for quick-turn prototype production.  The MRP system could not manage components in the reduced timeframe.  The customer needed a side by side system which would compliment not complicate.  California Integration Coordinators methodology offered the perfect partnership.


Customer Service and Support is a major element of our overall performance; so much so that it is measured internally as a quality standard. 

  • It is our goal to acknowledge the RFQ from a customer and begin working on the quote within minutes of receipt. 
  • It is not always possible due to custom parts or overseas factory confirmations, but it is our goal to provide a Costed BOM and formal quote within 24 hours. 
  • The CIC project coordinators acknowledge a new customer Purchase Order within 30 minutes from receipt, order all materials per the PO within 60 minutes and provide assurance of the specified dock date within 24 hours.

Consider:

Have you been involved with recent small PCB assemblies? 

Was the timeline for the project extended?  Were there any communication delays which jeopardized the project? 

Did you have to “cross your fingers”  and hope it all came out right? 

Please discuss your project expectations with us.  You may be amazed how little it costs to add quality and timeliness to your PCB assembly project.   www.cic-inc.comor Cherie@cic-inc.com


3 Options for Kitting PCB Quick-Turn Projects

The process of purchasing and kitting of electronic components for PCB assemblies can have challenges, but none more than a quick-turn or a quick timeframe.  For projects, such as prototypes, which are scheduled to be built in 10 days or less with a limited quantity, the challenges can be daunting.

Focusing on the components only, envision the time it will take to load the MRP system with the BOM, schedule the project, and run the MRP / issue the purchase orders.  How many days are to be allocated to these processes?

Purchasing and processing flexibility, speed and accuracy are required to have the materials “assembly-line ready” for quick-turn projects.  Available purchasing staff with a strong skill-set to propose In-Stock options, understand sourcing options, and problem-solve quickly are vital to a successful project.  If a purchasing staff cannot be allocated on short notice, or if the current processing systems cannot be tailored for quick-turns, you have options.

  1. Depending on the MRP system,  schedule a build of one (parent) and use the BOM ID as the place holder.   Do not import or load the requirements.  Use a spreadsheet of the BOM requirements and assign to a staff member capable of searching for stock for each of the BOM requirements.  Place either credit card orders or manual PO’s to procure the requirements.
  1. Again, depending on the MRP system, import the BOM and set for manual scheduling.   Do NOT send out RFQ’s.  Assign a buyer to immediately source and procure based on search engines for electronic component distributors.
  1. Outsourcing is available for purchasing and kitting of electronic components required for quick-turns.  Without impacting the current staff or trying to muscle the processing systems, consider adding an “ace up your sleeve” to your team; make the magic happen!

With one call, you can add a dedicated Project Coordinator to your team.  A professional, capable of quoting, sourcing, and offering options for a typical BOM in less than one day.  Once the decision is made to proceed with the assembly, the Coordinator places all orders for materials within 60 minutes.   The assembly line can be ready to set-up in four days with materials verified, inspected, and documented.

Interested in discussing a Quick-Turn PCB project with a professional ready to become part of your team?   Call (530) 626-6168 and ask to speak to a Project Coordinator.

Cherie@cic-inc.com or visit our website www.cic-inc.com

Material Kitting variations based on PCB Assembly facility

The process of procuring PCB component materials and kitting varies depending on the requirement of PCB Assembly facility chosen.  If the kitting source does not take the assembly requirements into consideration, there could be a great deal of waste and over-expenditure for the PCB materials.

Choose the assembly facility prior to preparing a quote for the PCB component materials.  

There are several standard assembly requirements found within the industry.  Depending upon automated Pick and Place equipment and assembly engineering staff, assembly material requirements at Assembly facility #1 might be:
        1.   All materials must be on 7″ or 13″ reels with minimum 18″ leader and trailers.
        2.   Trays are acceptable.
        3.   No rails/tubes
        4.   No cut tape or 3″ reels.
Material requirements at Assembly facility #2 might be:
       1.   Cut tape with minimum 12″ leader and trailer is acceptable
        2.   Trays, rails/tubes are acceptable
        3.   Accept bulk items when packaged and identified properly.
Material requirements at Assembly facility #3 might be:
       1.   Cut tape with minimum 8″ leader is acceptable (no metal joiners/brads)
        2.   Trays, rails/tubes are acceptable
        3.   Accept bulk items when packaged and identified properly.

The quantity of the current PCB build and cost is not the only factor when choosing the Assembly facility.  Other considerations include investment of NRE costs for multiple, future builds; proximity and transportation; engineering capabilities; and on-site add-on services such as testing, packaging, etc. 

All other considerations set aside, it is typically most cost effective to choose assembly capabilities consistent with Assembly facility #2 when populating 5 – 100 boards.  Assembly facility’s with #3’s criteria work great when populating 1-10 boards depending on complexity.  When running a high volume of boards or when multiple set-ups may be required, requirements at Assembly facility #1 might prove to be the most cost effective option.
The procurement and preparation of PCB component materials taking into account the requirements of the assembly facility will be most accurate and will allow the assembly process to be efficient and cost effective.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss these options further, contact us at cherie@cic-inc.com or call (530) 626-6168 and ask to speak to a Project Coordinator.

Advantages of Outsourcing for Electronic Component Procurement


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 the growth and efficiency of business.  Procurement outsourcing has earned its place as a key advantage for high-end, technical business applications.


Electronic component procurement outsourcing is a resource that makes use of specialists with skills, assets, and expertise that are specific to your industries needs.  It is imperative that the person procuring components has a strong background in the electronics industry, not just in general purchasing.  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.

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 fulfill your electronic purchasing needs:

  • Does this company have a reputation of outstanding customer satisfaction among its peers?
  • Does this company have a measurable plan for continuous improvement in efficiency and productivity?
  • Does this company have the certifications necessary to meet the standards of your industry?
  • Does this company have staff with knowledge in your specific industry that will allow them to maximize the benefits to your company?

Please consider California Integration Coordinators, Inc. an ISO 9001 certified company specializing in PCB and PCB related sourcing, kitting and procurement for over 27 years.    

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