Over the years, there have been many advantages to using offshore printed circuit board manufacturing partners, but things are changing. Many electronics OEMs have experienced a real benefit to reshoring their PCB production to onshore production facilities. Offshore manufacturing has historically offered low labor costs and fast turn-times, making their services an attractive alternative despite the distance. However, this paradigm has changed in favor of domestic manufacturing for several reasons.
Improved technology in manufacturing has lessened the amount of manual labor required for PCB production. Additionally, those countries that offered lower labor prices have been experiencing economic growth and prosperity. This change in economics has caused them to transfer the increased labor costs back to the OEM. Labor costs are just part of this story, though, and in this article, we will examine seven benefits of reshoring electronic manufacturing.
The Seven Benefits of Reshoring Electronic Manufacturing
While PCB manufacturing is available in different countries worldwide, many of the reasons that OEMs preferred offshore production have been changing. Here are seven benefits that OEMs can realize by reshoring their production of printed circuit boards.
1. Hands-on Control
When a circuit board is in the prototype or new product introduction phase of its manufacturing, design changes or enhancements have to be made quickly. Design engineers might have physical access to the shop with a local domestic manufacturer instead of relying on long-distance communication. This access allows engineers the rapid response and hands-on control that they prefer.
2. Improved Quality Control
Many offshore production facilities boast high-quality workmanship, but this isn’t necessarily true of all overseas manufacturers. Some may not have access to higher quality materials or trained labor, while others have been known to use cost-cutting measures that compromise quality. It can be challenging to know what to expect in long-distance business relationships like this, where design engineers can more easily vet a local domestic manufacturer.
3. Improved Communication
Communication may be delayed when your production facility is on the other side of the world due to the time difference or language barriers. Delays like these can undermine projects that need back and forth contact for iterative changes in the design. However, with domestic PCB production, designers can talk with their manufacturing partner in the same time zone or within a few hours of difference. This improved communication helps move the design along and reduces the chances of errors caused by miscommunication.
4. Domestic Sourcing of Components
Design engineers have little control over sourcing the parts and components used in building their circuit boards with an overseas manufacturing partner. There is also the real problem of counterfeit parts being used instead of high-quality components without this control. Domestic manufacturers usually work with a network of vetted component manufacturers and suppliers to ensure your board is built with top-quality parts.
5. Predictable Prices
Prices can fluctuate with offshore manufacturing due to problems that, in some cases, are entirely invisible to OEMs. These changing prices can come as a surprise and create problems for production budgets. Fortunately, onshore production is better sheltered from the political and economic issues that can arise with offshore manufacturing.
6. Drastically Reducing Shipping Problems
One of the biggest concerns with offshore manufacturing and the entire PCB supply chain is shipping the completed project back to the OEM. Shipping costs and tariffs are wildly out of control, and jammed ports and shipping channels only add to the problem. On the other hand, products that are built domestically will bypass the worst of these shipping problems. In some cases, shipping locally produced circuit boards can even end up being as simple as driving them across town.
7. Eliminating the “X” Factor
Many other problems can happen with offshoring manufacturing that we will lump together into a single group designated as the “X” factor. These problems include overseas national holidays, which can shut production down when you need it the most. In other cases, you may have to deal with overseas political unrest that can influence labor, and even global emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can slow down or stop offshore manufacturing. Many of these issues don’t exist for local PCB assembly shops, and even during the worse days of the pandemic, most electronics manufacturing was considered essential and stayed on track.
While these seven benefits for reshoring your electronic manufacturing covers the basics, there are many more reasons that we haven’t listed. The next step is to find a local PCB manufacturer.
A Local PCB Manufacturer You Can Count On
At VSE, we have been building circuit boards and electronic assemblies for over 35 years. Located in San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have been serving the needs of electronics innovators both locally and worldwide. Our customers have come to rely on our high-quality work and the personal attention we give them to ensure the success of their projects.
- Our engineering department will first review your design to confirm the availability and pricing of your desired components and the overall manufacturability of the design.
- Our staff is also available for more intensive engineering work on your project if you need additional resources.
- On the manufacturing floor, our technicians will assemble your board with a combination of automated and manual assembly to produce the highest quality results.
- Next, we will verify the circuit boards we have built for you with an assortment of testing equipment before the finished product is delivered back to you.