During times of uncertainty, such as the recent Coronavirus outbreak, there are many different competing and confusing voices clamoring for your attention. Trying to discern which of these voices to listen to can be difficult, especially when it comes to making business decisions about your electronics manufacturing. Here is where partnering with a local printed circuit board manufacturer can be very helpful.
A local PCB manufacturer can take a lot of the pressure from conflicting voices off of you. With their finger on the pulse of PCB manufacturing, they will know and understand the different issues of PCB assembly, and how best to steer you through it. What follows is some of the problems that you may be confronted with during this crisis, and how a local manufacturer can help you find your way through the PCB supply chain.
COVID-19 Related PCB Supply Chain and Manufacturing Problems
There are a lot of problems that can affect the global PCB manufacturing and supply chain. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is the most obvious example of this. There are however other events that can also cause problems for the supply chain, such as national holidays or political unrest. When any of these situations arise, it can adversely affect the overseas manufacturing that you rely on for the mass production of your printed circuit boards. Some of the effects that you may see can include:
- Component shortages for building circuit boards.
- Materials used in the manufacturing of circuit boards are not readily available.
- Communication breakdowns between you and overseas manufacturers.
- Labor shortages in the areas of the problems that affect your manufacturers.
- Fluctuating prices that cause your board production to be over-budget.
- Shipping problems that delay you from getting the product back into your factories.
Global PCB supply chains are critical to the printed circuit board industry. Overseas manufacturers build boards in very large quantities and handle a lot of the mass production of PCBs. Local PCB contract manufacturers also play a critical role in providing low-volume high-mix production capabilities for PCB prototypes, new product introduction (NPI), and limited-run orders. The question is, how do you preserve your product when global problems such as the Coronavirus outbreak happen?
What You Can Do to Protect Your Manufacturing Pipeline
Here are some ideas to consider that will help you to keep your manufacturing pipeline intact and prepare to weather this or any other storm:
- Establish a strong relationship with a local manufacturer: Your local PCB contract manufacturers want you to succeed. Not only will they provide you with a prototype, NPI, and limited-run manufacturing, but they will also help you prepare your board for eventual mass production. They understand better than most the global effect that this pandemic or other national events will have on the PCB supply chain, and are best suited to help guide you through it.
- Cultivate a network of manufacturers: One of the best ways to be prepared is to have a list of manufacturers ready so that you have backups and options available to you if the worst should happen. The manufacturers you choose should be able to supply you with the same services that you are currently receiving in order to assure that your work will be able to continue. You also want to make sure that your list covers both your mass production as well as your prototype and NPI needs.
- Have a transition plan in place: If the needs arise for you to have to switch manufacturers, are you ready to do that? Do you have a point of contact as well as up-to-date contact information? It’s a good idea to conduct surveys of your manufacturers from time to time in order to make sure that they are well-prepared to handle your specific PCB assembly needs.
- Prepare for recovery: There are already indications that recovery may begin sooner than originally predicted. It is now hoped that the industry will find ways to resume business even as the virus is being defeated. Are you prepared for this? With PCB design software companies offering short-term node-locked licenses to those isolated at home, many engineers are still outputting a lot of work. You should be ready to work with your manufacturers now to get these designs into your manufacturing pipeline.
How VSE Can Help
Here at VSE, we are ready to help you with your PCB manufacturing. We are fully compliant with the government regulations regarding this crisis in order to ensure the safety of our customers and our staff. At the same time, we are still maintaining our manufacturing lines in order to be responsive to the essential business needs of our customers. We are committed to making sure that your critical needs will still be taken care of during the pandemic.
To provide you with the highest quality service, we have an extensive network of suppliers to make sure that we have the components and materials available that your projects need. Our production lines are also optimized for low-volume high-mix manufacturing. Not only does this serve the needs of our customers for their prototype and NPI projects, but we can quickly take on your projects to fill a need until your mass production facilities are ready to support you again.
We also still stand by our commitment to provide all of our customers with the best engineering and manufacturing support. While we currently need to limit direct customer contact to comply with governmental regulations and enforce necessary social distancing measures, we are still heavily engaged with our clients. We remain committed to investing in tools that enable us to work with you as though you were physically present in our factory. We are always available to you online, and when permitted, we will welcome everyone back into our facility to assess our abilities and collaborate on designs. In the meantime, we welcome every opportunity to support your projects and partner with you during this challenging time.