Having a house painted usually involves more work than homeowners expect. Often there is siding to replace, gutters that need maintenance, and other unexpected problems that require attention. You can coordinate the various contractors necessary to do these tasks or do them yourself. But the most efficient solution is to partner with a contractor that can handle all the work, saving you time and effort.
This same principle of consolidating the work with one contractor is mirrored in manufacturing printed circuit boards. Instead of separately coordinating component sourcing, PCB fabrication, and circuit board assembly services, a turnkey PCB manufacturer can handle all this work for you. Not only will you save time and effort, allowing you to focus more on marketing your product, but it will help produce a better-quality circuit board. Let’s define full turnkey PCB assembly and examine how it can help enhance your business goals.
Problems Faced by OEMs in Electronics Production
Building a successful electronic product requires careful coordination of the different pieces required to put the puzzle together. Managing just one of these pieces can be very complex in itself, and OEMs can become overwhelmed when working with all of them. Consider these four different areas that have to be managed together for the successful manufacturing of a printed circuit board:
- Components and materials: The electronic component supply chain has suffered greatly over the past few years with shortages and shipping bottlenecks. It takes an experienced procurement team to work through these issues to ensure that the necessary parts are available when the PCBs are in production. You also need dedicated component engineers who can accurately forecast part lifecycle status changes to ensure that the long-term production of your products will not be affected.
- Fabrication consistency: With changing production methods, materials, and the industry or environmental requirements, PCBfabrication can change over time. Maintaining a network of fabricators and monitoring the raw board fabs they produce for quality to ensure uninterrupted circuit board production is essential.
- Production coordination: Manufacturing a circuit board requires coordinating the necessary components, raw board fabs, and the assembly of the board to build the product correctly and on time. If the raw board fabs are ready, but some of the components are missing, the assembly line will stall. Circuit boards may also require additional sub-assemblies, including shields, brackets, plastic, and other system-level parts, to complete their assembly. All of these manufacturing puzzle pieces must be coordinated to deliver the product on time.
- Final testing, packaging, and delivery: Once the board has been built, it needs to be expertly tested and validated. This step alone can derail the entire project if it hasn’t been planned for from the beginning, including developing the test plan, related software, and documentation. And finally, the product has to be packaged and delivered to the end-user.
As you can see, there is a lot to the overall PCB production process, and if any of these steps are missed or executed incorrectly, it can jeopardize the entire project. Fortunately, there are assembly shops with full turnkey PCB assembly expertise that can help.
Full Turnkey PCB Assembly: What OEMs Need for Efficient Manufacturing
Turnkey PCB assembly offers an enhanced circuit board manufacturing that relieves the OEM of managing each aspect of the board’s production. Turnkey starts with the initial PCB design, where the assembly shop will plan and execute each step of the circuit board manufacturing process to meet the OEM’s expectations. This process includes coordinating parts and materials, scheduling the raw board fabrication, assembling and validating the circuit board, and shipping the finished product to the end-user. The turnkey assembly process offers many benefits to the OEM, including the following:
- Design integrity: For efficient and high-yield productivity, the turnkey assembly process starts with the initial PCB design. The assembly shop can assure component availability and pricing by reviewing and updating the design as needed. Additionally, the circuit board layout will be refined according to design for manufacturability (DFM) rules to optimize it for error-free manufacturing.
- Component and material procurement: The turnkey manufacturer will also manage the component procurement process to schedule the delivery of the parts to coincide with the assembly of the board. The manufacturer will also be working with the PCB fabricator and additional subcontractors to coordinate the remainder of the sub-assemblies necessary for production.
- Manufacturing efficiency: Depending on the needs of the circuit board, the assembly operation will be refined for the greatest efficiency and scaled to fit the customer’s needs. The manufacturer will also fine-tune large PCB production orders for automated processing, while smaller numbers or special requirements may rely on manual work by skilled technicians.
- Full and complete testing for quality assurance: Full turnkey production also includes building PCB testing and validation into the manufacturing process. This pre-planning helps increase manufacturing efficiency and ultimately results in fewer errors. The testing and QA processes rely on several methods, including visual inspection, automated optical inspection (AOI), X-ray, flying probe testing, and in-circuit test (ICT).
The final step in full turnkey PCB assembly is to package and ship the completed circuit board to the end-user. The PCBs are packed according to the customer’s packaging processes using their box tape and packing slip so that from the end user’s perspective, it has come directly from the OEM. Direct shipping like this expedites the delivery of the product saving the customer time and expense and reducing the potential for damage to the product due to transportation.
As you can see, there are many benefits to the full turnkey PCB assembly process, and next, we’ll look at a PCB assembly shop that provides this type of service.
Turnkey Electronics Assembly at VSE
At VSE, we have been serving the electronic assembly needs of our customers for over 30 years, including full turnkey PCB assembly services. Our turnkey solution starts with your initial design, where we work with you to optimize it for manufacturing. We will guide your project through our manufacturing processes, including part and materials procurement, assembly, inspection, and final test. Once your circuit board is ready, we will prepare it in your corporate packaging and ship it to your end-user. This turnkey process is time-proven to save you money with higher yields, fewer problems, and on-time delivery, ensuring your customer’s satisfaction. Additionally, turnkey assembly services can relieve the load on your project management, allowing you to focus on what you do best, designing electronics.