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

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.

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


Successful Partnerships for PCB Assembly Services

Numerous aspects are involved in the PCB Assembly; board fabrication, component procurement, programming and set-up for assembly, component placement, quality inspection and testing (if applicable). 
For prototype PCB Assemblies special consideration should be given to the processes used before, during and after the manufacturing.  Experienced partnerships add substantial value to both manufacturability and production quality. 
·         Partner directly with a board fabrication provider.  The board fabrication engineering group will review the functionality but also will perform a DFM (design for manufacturability) review.  This value added process often costs little to nothing but can save the project.
·         Partner directly with a component procurement specialist.  The Costed BOM will be provided and should include all information regarding pricing as well as availability.  If the prototype project has a timeline, alternate components should be presented by the procurement specialist to keep the project on time.  The value of the vitality check and part number verification can be a cost-effective source of information.  The procurement specialist also provides the assembly line-ready Kit for assembly saving valuable assembly prep time.
·         Partner directly with an assembly facility which is capable of accepting components in various media types for placement.  The assembly facility able to place components from cut tape, tube and trays will allow the components to be sourced in the most economical methods possible.  Prototypes often will have minor changes and draining the budget for a full reel of components, which may be removed from the BOM later, can be costly.
·         Partner directly with an assembly facility which can provide DFM prior to the PCB build and thorough inspections after the build.  The outcome of the DFM and inspection reports should be shared with the design team to review for potential improvements prior to production quantity builds.
·         Partner directly with a test facility if needed.  The quality of the information and the engineering insight can save precious budget money and time for the design engineers.
We look forward to questions, comments and your insight.  Email Cherie@cic-inc.com
California Integration Coordinators, Inc.  “Helping people build electronic products”

Why our electronic component kits are so appreciated

There is numerous staff involved in the successful delivery of an electronic component kit for PCB assemblies.  The staff least visible have the most impact.  I’d like to introduce our kitting staff.
Daily, the kitting staff doubles as the receiving-inspectors and conducts the product verification.  They count the incoming items, compare the count against the purchase order, verify the part markings against the datasheet, and compare the description of the part with the bill of materials. 
The kitters work with amazing accuracy under the pressure of shipping deadlines; can pick out a one digit difference on a 15 digit part number, can find the datasheet information to confirm the package and the part marking, and are able to quickly produce the paper document package the assembly house will require (kit list, labels, excess instructions, bar coding, etc.).  The kitting staff put together the final presentation of the complete kit and the documentation for the customer; making each one beautiful in its organization of material all wrapped up in pink bubble wrap.
So often, it is the least visible contributors to a project that have the most significant impact.  So many recipient assembly line staff claim our kits are the best and trust the component accuracy for efficient line set-up.  The project coordinators on the front line graciously accept the compliments, but want you to know who is behind the kits; our kitting staff. 
Our appreciation to the kitting staff at California Integration Coordinators, Inc.  We truly appreciate the quality for which our organization has come to be known.
Want to know more about electronic component kitting?  Contact me and I’d be glad to share the details.  Cherie@cic-inc.com

More about the organization at www.cic-inc.com

Made in USA

Does “Made in the USA” matter?  Do companies that make products in the USA find value in the distinction?
According to several polls and some recent research, it does make a difference.  Consumer Reports article from February 2013 (http://consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2013/02/made-in-america/index.htm) covered a broad spectrum of manufacturing, labeling practices and consumer sentiment.  In addition to a manufacturer believing in keeping their loyalties and their money in the USA, consumers were also influenced by corporate responsibility, environmental policies and ethics.
Do you believe in MADE IN USA? 
Electronics manufacturing is often cited as an example of products being made outside of this country to maintain competitive pricing.  Some OEM’s have argued that the United States does not have the skilled labor and machinery to compete. 
Much has been written to encourage manufacturing in the USA and to bring pressure to manufacturers to reconsider outsourcing overseas.  Each manufacturer needs to take a look at their corporate responsibility and decide what they are reasonably able to do.  CIC, Inc. is proud to be a service provider to the electronic manufacturing industry who strives to purchase American made components, recommend American made components and encourage American electronic printed circuit board assembly.
Is MADE IN USA an option to explore?  Does it make sense for US companies of electronics manufacturing especially in the prototype and pre-production stages?  CIC, Inc. manages full-turnkey PCBA projects and specializes in procurement and kitting for those projects.  Get a quote and see if MADE IN USA can be possible.

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

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.