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

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.

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

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.

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