As a teenager, I tried to do most of my automobile repairs, but one thing I hated getting into was the exhaust system. Rust, frozen bolts, and fitting heat-warped parts together made this task difficult and frustrating. As an adult, I paid an exhaust shop to do the same work. With torches, specialty clamps, and tools designed for the job, they had done in minutes what used to take me all day.
It’s a fact that experts can make our lives a lot easier if we choose to use their services. Take a printed circuit board contract manufacturer, for instance. Not only do these companies excel in building circuit boards, but they have a great deal of expertise when it comes to sourcing parts and materials for PCBs. Here is some information about PCB contract manufacturing company supply chain expertise.
PCB Contract Manufacturing Company Supply Chain Expertise
PCB contract manufacturers get the job done by leveraging in-house experts for various tasks:
- Component engineers: To ensure that the circuit board will function as-built, PCB CMs use their component engineers to review the bill of materials before the board is built. These experts can make recommendations for part and design changes to improve the performance of the circuit board and its manufacturability.
- Purchasing agents: The PCB CM will also employ procurement specialists that understand the network of circuit board components and materials. These experts will find the best prices and delivery schedules for the parts you need on your design to ensure there are no production delays.
- Supply chain networking: There are many different options for purchasing components and materials to build a circuit board, and a PCB CM will have cultivated a rich network of suppliers. Using various software tools to get part updates and component information, the CM will find the best options from manufacturers, distributors, and brokers within its supply network.
- Quality assurance: A PCB CM will also have a thorough process for validating parts and incoming inspections to ensure that your circuit board is built with only the best components and materials.
Without a high level of expertise, contract manufacturers could be exposed to the supply chain issues that are causing problems for electronic’s manufacturers around the world. We’ll take a look at some of these problems next.
Supply Chain Problems to Avoid
Original equipment manufacturers of electronics have had to contend with two major supply chain problems recently; a global shortage of parts and a surge in counterfeit components.
The current global component shortage has been devastating to PCB manufacturers. The market requirements for components changed dramatically after the COVID-19 pandemic, and semiconductor foundries altered their production. Then, unexpectedly, lagging markets such as the automotive industry returned to their previous use levels, and semiconductor manufacturers couldn’t keep up with demand. Until new production facilities are available to pick up the extra load, the electronics industry will have to work around a shortage of parts.
Counterfeit parts have always been a problem in the electronics industry. Counterfeiters will alter components to appear as more expensive versions without the accompanying performance specifications or modify older parts to sell as new. Not surprisingly, the semiconductor shortage has created a spike in these counterfeits, which cause intermittent or outright failures in critical mission circuit boards.
Combating these problems is where the expertise of a local PCB contract manufacturer can pay off. With their networks of suppliers, CMs have several outlets to search for parts or recommend alternatives if those aren’t available. CMs also have the training to spot questionable suppliers to avoid counterfeit parts, and their inspection and validation processes will ensure genuine components. Here are some other ways that PCB contract manufacturers can help with the success of your next circuit board project.
How an Experienced PCB CM Can Help with Your Project’s Success
In addition to finding the best components for your project, the engineering department at a PCB contract manufacturer will help with the following:
- Recommend circuitry changes to improve the functionality of the board.
- Design for manufacturability reviews to improve production yields and lower costs.
- Layout enhancements to incorporate alternate parts or DFM changes.
- PCB testability review and implementing a test strategy for the board.
At VSE, we are staffed and equipped to handle all of your circuit board engineering and manufacturing needs. With over 30 years of experience building circuit boards for electronics OEMs in San Jose, Silicon Valley, and beyond, we understand the challenges you face. We specialize in low-volume, high-mix manufacturing and have a reputation of excellence in the San Francisco Bay Area, helping companies with their prototype and NPI productions.