All electronics nowadays are using Printed Circuit Boards (PCB). They can be found everywhere in our daily routine. In this article, we will review the steps and measurements you need to take, before choosing a component supplier for your printed circuit board assembly.
Your main objective is to choose the right component supplier, measuring his capability. What I mean is that you have to make sure that the component supplier is capable of delivering high-quality components, matching your prototypes on time.
Often suppliers are chosen based on the price, which is a big mistake. Low-cost suppliers often do not take responsibility for failed components. The price is determined from all the services offered together. Now, we will review all the steps that you need to take, that will help you which component supplier will be best for you.
Type, Quantity & Quality
In recent years, the printed circuit board component suppliers have adopted new designs and software products, so you should be looking for the newest lines in the industry. Look for a supplier that makes use of the most recent technology and ensures that each component is working with the latest standards.
New models, component accuracy, handling feeders etc? Key factors like these are crucial when it comes to component suppliers, regardless of if the machines that are used for the process. For example, if the machines assembling the components are not exceptionally accurate this will lead to failure during the installation of the components later.
Another thing that you should be careful about is a supplier that machines are constantly breaking down. Even tho this is happening it is not necessary to affect you directly, but make sure that your orders will not be delayed at any circumstances. Meeting deadlines is a very important factor that you should secure. Point that out clearly if you are negotiating.
Last but not least is that you have to make sure that all components are assembled by the supplier himself. What I mean is that you need to make sure that the supplier will create high-quality components for you, not purchase them from somewhere else. All components have to go through a series of tests during the assembly method and if they are not manufactured in the facility according to all guidelines that can result in inconsistent issues. With that being said, we can move on to the next important step.
Set of Guidelines
Many component suppliers are more focused on fast and mass production, which is not an effective way of component assembly. When selecting a component supplier for you printed circuit boards, check their production guidelines. This is one of the most crucial parts of the entire production process that is directly related to the effectiveness of the components.
The production guidelines are usually the core of every successful supplier. Of course, component suppliers with a long and strict guideline come with a higher cost, but the quality can be ensured. Make sure that they train their new employees as per their guidelines.
Make sure that they have a policy for replacing a failed component and their services are customer friendly.
Take your time and investigate, in order to know better the quality inspection scheme they are using. You should select a component supplier that can perform in-house testing so it will be easy to find a resolve any issues before the shipment is made. Printed circuit board component testing should always be a first priority to your component supplier.
We will now briefly take a look at the basic quality inspection tools that suppliers should be doing.
1. Examination By Machines
This process is usually after the human examination, but sometimes it is the only one. Here, machines are using cameras to make a picture comparison of each component in order to ensure its final design. This is the easiest way to find a bad assembly component and quickly resolve the problem.
2. Examination By Humans
Many component suppliers do not bother to do that inspection but have in mind that it is extremely important because some components need a human touch in order to identify issues. Without this step, many failed components are going in the functionality test, which often results in delay.
3. Functionality Test
This is the third and most important test where the components are tested in order to ensure their functionality. It is usually done by inserting them in a machine that enters in the design of the components and observing their input and output.
Now when you have a basic view of the inspection process, make sure to check that when choosing a component supplier. It is not necessary to have every single inspection method available, but it has to be decent at least.
It is important to know your component supplier work schedule. If they have a large volume of orders and they can spare just a little time for you, just not to lose you as a customer, probably this is not the best supplier for you. I am not saying that a company cannot manage multiple orders simultaneously, but make sure that they can give you the time and quality you pay for.
Take this under consideration or make sure that you come in understanding when it comes to a backup plan in case of overbooking. It is great if you can stand out like a VIP client for your supplier.
Order Size and Time Limit
Before you start cooperation with a component supplier, make sure that they can assembly prototypes fast and secure for you. Every time before you can start mass production with large quantity orders, you will need a prototype to test and ensure that your customers will be satisfied with.
There is a different option here. In case you have chosen your supplier, but they do not make prototypes you will need another (second) partner that will deliver just the prototypes. Can you imagine a situation where you have ordered a large number of components that do not get the job done and your customer wants a replacement?
It is always good to have consistency between the phases of production. Eather make sure that the supplier is capable of delivering prototypes before large orders or look for another partner for that.
Another thing is the time limit. You should have your prototypes fast in order to minimize the time you need to test and eventually order. The same goes for your main component supplier. They must have the capacity to supply the components you order on time.
Backup Stock Components
In general, printed circuit board component suppliers usually have some common components in stock. Components such as resistors, diodes, transistors, inductors and more. Their purpose, being in stock is for emergencies and situations as a backup. It is always better for your component supplier to have some spare components in stock in order not to lose time whenever a quick replacement is required.
The component supply is a huge part of every printed circuit board manufacturer and you should choose your supplier carefully, optimizing the right cost of components. Working with an unreliable component supplier will not ensure a quick replacement and the bulk order handle they can manage. Take these tips under consideration as well and make the optimal decision regarding the component supplier you want to cooperate with.
It is important to choose a component supplier for your manufacturing to assembling that has idea workers when it comes to the production of printed circuit board components. Understand better how they hire their employees, what training they provide them with and how they ensure their set of skills.
There are a lot of occasions where precision and microscope is required for assembling micro components. So the supplier has to have an excellent team of workers that are best in that field of work. Make sure that the employees also have a strong communication skill in each manufacturing level. Many times you will be facing a conversation with one of their engineers whenever discussing a new design or prototype. Understanding is a crucial part and if it does not exist, the project will not be successful.
Communication is also required to be excellent at each level. What I mean is that it includes order placement, fabrication, quality check, shipment and design. Setting the right expectation is an essential aspect and the employees should understand exactly what you need and deliver a product as per your desires and expectations.
Storage and Containment
If you are a printed circuit board manufacturer, you probably know what I will discuss here. During the production process, the components have to be stored in a specific humidity levels and temperatures. You have to make sure that your supplier will treat them well and ship them in vacuum seals. The package has to have silica gel to deal with humidity because without the proper packaging oxidation will play a crucial role.
For example, without the proper packaging, the circuit components will oxidize when exposed to humidity and air. It will be a waste of products. Make sure that your component supplier will properly store and seal each component with a vacuum so they can arrive safely and completely functional.
You should keep in mind that the printed circuit board component market is quite competitive and choosing the right supplier might be a hard task. But now when you know what you should be looking for when choosing a component supplier this will make your task easier and most probably you will shortlist many suppliers once you have a clear view at what they should do.
You should make sure to choose the component supplier that has your best interests. Do not cooperate with a component supplier just because they have lower prices. This will lead to 3x more expectations in the future. Choose the components supplier as per their equipment, procedure, team and the design that they can deliver.
PCBONLINE has an amazing informative blog for every single Printed circuit board related inquiry that you may have. The characteristics of PCBONLINE are good flexible manufacturing ability, purchasing ability for non-standard parts, and strong purchasing ability for the whole BOM.
They have more than 50 technicians and 11 single component engineers, they all have more than ten years of experience in electronics design or open-source hardware design. 50% of their procurement channels are in Hong Kong, 20% are in Shenzhen, and 20% are in the United States.
They have a component procurement centre in Hong Kong. Our component prices are also absolutely open. We will share the purchase price with our customers. The service fee for our purchasing is in the range of 5-10%. Parts procurement service is only an auxiliary service of our SMT service.
If you want to find more about the manufacturers themselves and how to find one, make sure the check How To Choose a PCB Manufacturer?
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