25th Anniversary Celebration Series

 Introduction to the Staff
Focus on Debby Verry
Debby has been with CIC, Inc. for almost 12 years.
Roles and Responsibilities as the Lab Manager include leading and supervising the manufacturing, re-calibration and repair of ADM flow meters with a staff of four. 
The following is the interview with Debby:
Describe your favorite part of your current responsibilities

My favorite is the people I work with.  The challenge of getting the product out.  Helping our customers solve their problems.  I really like every aspect of my job.

What is special about CIC, Inc. reaching the 25th Anniversary mark?

CIC is a small company that thrives even in the hard economic times because it is a company with integrity.  It embraces the changes that may be required to meet our customers needs.  It is a great place to work which is evident by the long term employment history of the majority of the employees and everyone is invested in it’s success.  25 years is a long time and we could not be more proud to be a part of it!

Debby came to CIC after 12 years with J.E.I. as the Manager of assembly and 3 years with Tektronix working in Special Products.
During this year of celebration we want to highlight our employees and say Thank You.
If you want extend a note of Congratulations to our staff, please send it to CIC@cic-inc.com.  
If you’d like to learn more about us, visit www.cic-inc.com.

Design for PCB Assembly

The Design and Testing of a PC board are both critical elements to the production of a new printed circuit board assembly.  The next most importantaspect of the PCB project is the link between the Design Engineer and the DFM Engineer from both the Board Fabrication and PCB Assembly facility.  The cost of bringing a new PCB design to fruition can be HUGE!  Why would anyone risk the time and expense without engaging professional input from board fab, assembly and component procurement staff?
California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is the link that brings success to your PCB Project.
The professional CIC Project Coordinators:
  • engage partners with board fabrication and assembly to review project documentation/layout
  • double check the BOM for part descriptions to match the assigned manufacturer’s part number
  • provide component lead-times and search for in-stock alternates to suggest for approval
  • provide cost and suggest cost saving alternates (Mfg or packaging options) for approval
  • BOM scrubbing – filling passive call-outs with Mfg and part number for procurement
  • request Manufacturer’s sample options for initial small prototype builds
Does this link exist in your PCB project team?   Contact CIC, Inc. Project Coordinating staff to find out how easy it is to make this addition to your team!   Call 530-626-6168 or email cic@cic-inc.com to talk to YOUR new team member.

Outsourcing PCB Assembly Materials

It is a challenge to stay fiscally responsible AND competitive in today’s marketplace.   
Companies requiring assembled PCB’s have numerous options to consider to meet those challenges: 
  1. In-house procurement of materials, which are then boxed and sent to the chosen  assembly facility
  2. Allow the assembly facility to source the materials based on the customer BOM
  3. Outsource to a professional PCB project management team
What are the Pro’s and Con’s of each of the identified options above in 1, 2, and 3?
Utilize current staff to save money.  Why pay someone else when we have staff available?
Staff need to be trained and become proficient at purchasing, component inspection and kitting.
One purchase order, one point of contact from start to finish.
Assembly facilities generally focus on the assembly function and the talented staff in manufacturing.
Professional procurement, inspection, and kitting staff trained  for material sourcing and handling.
Can add slightly to the cost while saving significantly in production, material issues and time.
High volumes can have their own matrixes to determine cost effectiveness. 
For the low-volume/high-mix profiles, true value is ultimately found in outsourcing to a professional PCB project management team.  The costs are limited to the quote / budget and delivered within a specified timeframe.  Having all material deliveries monitored for timeliness, then inspected with all traceability documented, helps to ensure there won’t be expensive down-time on the assembly floor. 
To compare outsourcing options for PCB project management, specifically procurement, kitting and inventory management, start with California Integration Coordinators, Inc.   Call (530) 626-6168 to discuss your requirements and how outsourcing may bring value.  Additional information is available at www.cic-inc.com.

Get it done!

During the design stage of a PCB, the timeline is dedicated to the functional elements and the layout.  Once the design is released, the timeline has a small blip on the chart for the realization process. 
Careful!  The realization process is not a commodity.  How many hours are spent troubleshooting a prototype design only to discover the problem was attributable to workmanship or issues in component handling? 
After spending months in design, making sure everything was done perfectly, the project then deserves the same respect through the realization process.  The expertise for board fabrication, sourcing the components exactly as required, and providing a skillful assembly are critical to the timeline and the success of a PCB project.
Expertise infused into every aspect of a PCB project, especially realization, will help to ensure the timeline is maintained. 
  1. Choose a board fabrication source that can review the design (DFM) and will work out any issues prior to the manufacture.  Utilizing an experienced DFM Engineer can reduce cost and increase success.
  1. Find a respected electronic kitting provider.  A professional focused solely on the materials; an expert in the field.  The process should begin with a clear and concise quote for the materials required.  The components should be procured solely from authorized distributors with full traceability direct to the manufacturer per the design specification. 
  1. The assembly facility should be chosen based on the expertise required for the PCB project.  The assembly engineering review should be able to spot issues and work with the design engineers on any questions prior to beginning the assembly process. 
The realization process is a truly critical time during the maturation of a PCB project.  Please call on California Integration Coordinators, Inc. if you have questions regarding sourcing for your next project – (530) 626-6168 or send a note to Cherie@cic-inc.com

Outsourcing Electronic PCBA Materials for greater value

For the electronic focused OEM Engineer and Project Manager, outsourcing the purchasing of materials for a PCBA can add value by saving time and energy of staff members more valuable in other roles.  In addition, saving the hard costs of issuing multiple purchase orders, in-bound shipping costs and material prep for assembly. 
A good outsourcing procurement option should provide all of the following:
  • Quoting to source every BOM requirement
  • Suggest alternates for obsolete or long lead-time (whenever possible)
  • Focus on the project timeframe to meet build due date
  • Offer best board fab 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
  • Provide all evidence of traceability to manufacturers on materials
  • Manage all excess materials to utilize and reduce cost on future PC builds
  • Offer 1 purchase order solution
For Assembly facilities, outsourcing the Kit materials for a PCBA adds value by receiving:
  • Clean Kits (materials confirmed)
  • Easy to audit Kit and line ready
  • Attrition / media based on assembly floor requirements
  • 1 purchase order for all material requirements
Every company is looking for ways to “tighten up”.  Outsourcing the procurement and kitting process is a value-added opportunity not to be overlooked. 
Focus on your core strengths while improving quality of materials sourced.  Discuss the options by contacting a project coordinator at California Integration Coordinators, Inc.   
Procuring and Kitting electronic PCB materials for 25 years.   www.cic-inc.comor call (530) 626-6168

Strengthening Component Traceability

The word “faux” conjures up thoughts of chic, stylish, affordable, and trendy such as faux painting techniques, faux eyelashes, faux stone work, or faux pearls.  The word “counterfeit” emits a much different response, especially when it’s used in the same sentence as the word “electronic components”.
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 PC assemblies while protecting our customer’s product.  We’ve added a couple steps to our processes, but our 25 year reputation is worth a little added effort.
1.  We only buy components 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.
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.  Many issues of the wrong part being shipped under the ordered part number have been uncovered.  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.
3.  Handling of components is under the processes developed within the ANSI/ESD S20.20 – 2007 Standard.  Internal procedures allow us to validate the working environment and ensure confidence in our ability to avoid an ESD event during handling.
4.  Distributor’s and manufacturer’s package labeling indicating the lot code/date code of the components and other valuable traceability information is NOT sent to the assembly facility, but is retained for 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 customerswho chooses to outsource the procurement of electronic components to professionals, deserve and expect 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.

Electronic Component Kit Preparation

Ordering, confirming, tracking, verifying, labeling and preparing electronic components for a PC assembly can be very time-consuming and a bit tricky.  
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.  Confirming delivery, expediting (as necessary), and tracking the order until you sign takes time; but it does help avoid issues of missing shipments going unnoticed until it’s critical.
Once materials arrive, they need to be counted; but most importantly, verified.  All handling has 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 part your ordered is indeed the part you received.  Most all issues are uncovered during the verification process. 
Should a performance issue arise, it is very important to have retained the original Lot Code and Manufacturing data from the package to insure the traceability and manufacturers support.
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 labor intensive processes identified so far, Kit Preparation will also involve numerous phone calls, issuing of purchase orders, packing slips, invoices, RMA resolutions, etc.
Outsourcing the Procurement and Kit preparation to professionals can save a PC Assembly Project.  
California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is known as a leader in the area of Procurement and Kit Preparation.  Call us – (530) 626-6168 or meet our staff at LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/company/2633534   Follow us for more articles. 

ESD and the Kitting Process

When handling electronic components in the Kitting process, it is very important that all precautions are in place to protect components from ESD. We’ve been aware of known best handling practices for many years. It was during a Customer on-site visit, when the Auditor pointed out a potential flaw. The embarrassment drove us to revisit the ESD Standard ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007.

We had previously been so proud of all the grounded mats (floor and work surfaces), the continuous monitoring for wrist straps, the ESD jackets and all the posted signs warning other staff not to enter unless they are prepared to be grounded. Numerous basic items were in place and we were so pleased. And the question was asked “What about the paper the staff is using for the Kit List?” We assumed some distance between paper and unexposed components was okay. We didn’t know for sure and we certainly didn’t have an appropriate answer. It was the not knowing that caused us the greatest embarrassment.

ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 had to be known, understood and implemented if we truly wanted to be proud of our Kitting and Inventory service model. We chose a staff member and gave both the responsibility and the authority to be our ESD Control Manager. The first task was to learn and understand everything possible about ESD and what processes and products could be utilized to help prevent an ESD event during material handling. The second task was re-training of all the staff and implementation of the new processes. Even after all these years, we learned a lot. There is so much more known and so many more products available than there was 10 years ago.

We previously used the 3M 701 test kit for static control surfaces and monthly testing and reporting on all surfaces and jackets. We’ve increased the vigilance to now include the 3M 718 static field meter. The new meter will read the static field build up on insulators, such as paper products at workstations. This is a great tool to demonstrate to employees WHY certain items need to be removed or replaced at their work stations.

A number of new tools have been purchased, but the investment feels satisfying and provides a level of comfort. It is now the knowing that causes us the greatest satisfaction and pride.

There are many process improvements and a fair amount of knowledge gained through the last several months. I will gladly share more specifics in upcoming postings. If you’d like to discuss California Integration Coordinators ESD program, Kitting or Inventory services, please contact us at 530-626-6168 or send me a note Cherie@cic-inc.com.

EMS Problem Solvers

When you have a new, unfamiliar body pain, you seek medical help.  When you are preparing to enter into a large contract, you seek legal advice.  When you have the responsibility of a new PC board assembly, you should have a project coordinator join your team.
A professional project coordinator from California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is trained to address all the problems that arise; they’re problem solvers by design.  
Problems are avoided with professional project coordinators, whose processes include:
            BOM verification to ensure all the part descriptions match the Mfg part numbers
Determining the availability for all components required
Finding options for components which have long lead-times
Ordering materials from authorized manufacturer’s distributors (no brokers)
Expediting lead-time materials to keep the project on schedule
Inspection of all materials prior to assembly; preventing delays at assembly
Documenting all components for traceability
Material / Inventory management after the assembly to utilize excess
Many businesses responsible for PC assemblies may have the benefit of in-house professional personnel for these processes.  If your business does not have an in-house project coordinator, or would like to out-source the efforts, know that there are professionals available.  California Integration Coordinators, Inc. is the leader in Electronic Procurement and Kitting services.
When you have the responsibility of completing a PC board assembly project, seek a professional project coordinator.   www.cic-inc.com  or call (530) 626-6168

Calling on Electronic Engineers and Designers

Now that you’re ready to have PC boards built…

The Gerber files are complete, the BOM has come together, every aspect is identified, now it’s time to get rolling. This is where the “rubber hits the road”.

Lots of electronic component search engines to use. Plenty of online fabrication sources that will ship the boards in as little as 24 hours. After so much cost and effort to get the PC board project this close to realization, having an ace in your pocket right now would be very helpful. A guarantee; a little extra comfort in knowing it will all come out well.

Project Coordinators from California Integration Coordinators, Inc. essentially provide that comfort.

CIC, Inc. has been providing various electronic manufacturing support services for 23 years. Our primary support function is material procurement and kitting services, but we can also offer full-turnkey and inventory management solutions. Our business is helping companies such as yours, to build assembled circuit boards. No matter the quantity of assembled boards you may require, the quality and attention to detail starts with our quote. Our experienced staff takes pride in providing a complete, detailed quote for all component items. We can typically quote a full BOM in a few days.

Our Project Coordinators:
* verify the BOM for part descriptions to match the assigned manufacturer’s part number
* provide component lead-times and search for in-stock alternates to suggest for approval
* provide cost and suggest cost saving alternates (Mfg or packaging options) for approval
* BOM scrubbing – filling passive call-outs with Mfg and part number for procurement

Now that you’re ready to have boards built…add a Project Coordinator from CIC to your team and raise your comfort level. Call 530-626-6168.