We all know that football plays are carefully diagramed out before game time, and shows and movies are all scripted before the cameras start rolling. Winning the game and getting the best reviews requires meticulous attention to details, most of which we will never see. This same principle of preparation and management applies in circuit board manufacturing.
There are thousands of details that go into the fabrication and assembly of a printed circuit board. While the design engineers have specified the parts, schematics, and layout of the physical board, there is still much more to be done. Components and bare board fabs must be coordinated and procured while manufacturing processes must be scheduled and prepared for the incoming order. At the same time, there may be multiple projects from different customers that all have to be coordinated together for success.
To keep all of the various parts of the manufacturing process running smoothly and successfully requires the unique talents of a PCB program manager. These individuals are responsible for ensuring that the electronics ordered by the customer are built to the highest levels of quality and ready for delivery when expected. This article will look at why program managers in the PCB industry are highly valued and what it takes to perform this job.
Although electronics manufacturing is often considered to service only computers, smartphones, and other everyday devices, the truth is that electronics are required in almost every industry. Consider the following:
- Home appliances have a wide range of electronics embedded in them for their operations. Even the simplest of toys can have motion sensors or audio playback capabilities.
- IoT devices are surging, like medical equipment, security cameras, and many other devices that all connect to your home network.
- Industrial applications are too numerous to list and include robots and recording instrumentations that are part of today’s smart factory technology.
- Transportation requires the constant upgrading of electronics for communication, navigation, and computer control systems.
These products or systems will usually have a circuit board within them, and these boards need to be manufactured quickly, efficiently, and at the best price. However, circuit board manufacturing is a whole lot more than simply soldering on a couple of parts and calling it good. The entire development of a new circuit board is a very involved process:
- Product concept and system design
- Circuit development and simulation
- PCB layout and analysis
- Prototype builds, tests, and debug
- PCB redesign and new prototype cycles
- New product introduction builds and validation
As you can see, the job of the circuit board contract manufacturer can get complex as they balance out all of these different processes. And yet, there is still more with which a PCB CM must contend. They will be working simultaneously with other clients, all of whom may have multiple boards being built for their projects and working on several different projects at once.
To coordinate this level of activity requires the unique skills of program managers working for the PCB contract manufacturer.
What Does it Take to be a Program Manager in the PCB Industry?
PCB CMs rely on their program managers to oversee and manage their customer accounts with limited supervision. They are responsible for building a solid work relationship with their customers and ensuring they are satisfied with the overall work. Program managers are perfectly positioned to identify new potential projects and channel that information into the CMs’ sales department through their interaction with their customers. Program managers also monitor the progress of their customer’s projects through the assembly cycle and identify and resolve potential manufacturing problems ensuring on-time delivery of client’s orders.
Here are some of the specific duties that a program manager can expect to perform when working for a printed circuit board contract manufacturer:
- Develop strong relationships with assigned customer accounts.
- Manage quotes and order generation for these accounts.
- Manage customer orders concerning manufacturing availability.
- Expedite procurement and production to meet customer delivery requirements.
- Implement customer-specific programs and services to maximize customer satisfaction.
Program managers for electronics manufacturing companies are ultimately responsible for ensuring their customer’s satisfaction. This responsibility involves every aspect of the manufacturing process, starting with sales and culminating in on-time delivery of high-quality products. Next, let’s look at the type of PCB contract manufacturing service that can use the skills of program managers.
Being a PCB Program Manager at an Electronics Contract Manufacturer
While there are many different types of circuit board manufacturers globally, the expertise required for high-mix, low-volume assembly sets these shops apart from the rest. At VSE, we have been serving the PCB manufacturing needs of high-tech electronics innovators throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and beyond for over 35 years. In addition to prototypes, new product introductions (NPI), turn-key, and production runs of circuit boards, we also specialize in box-builds, wire harnesses, and cable assembly. Our manufacturing and test engineers are also complimented by a full team of component, circuit, and hardware engineers ready to help our customers build the highest quality hardware possible.
With these capabilities and specialties, we are always looking for skilled program managers who will guide our customer’s projects from start to finish through manufacturing. This ability to manage multiple customers, projects, and capabilities makes being a PCB program manager one of the top jobs in the industry today. As a program manager at VSE, you will represent us to our customers, and we need individuals who are committed to their company and the customers they serve. As a part of VSE, you join a company culture with rich history and diversity. In addition to the competitive pay and benefits packages we offer our employees, we also value a comprehensive work-life balance as one of our company’s core values.