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Save Time and Money on Your Next PCB and Electronic Manufacturing Project

Posted On March 29 2023

Many OEMs consider partnering with an electronic manufacturer overseas to cut manufacturing costs. However, they may not realize it could cost more in the long run due to complications. There is a common misconception that you can save significant money by relying on foreign manufacturers for electronic contract manufacturing, but that’s not the case. Your product is only as good as your ECM partner, and working with a domestic ECM has several benefits. A quality product with a quick turnaround may cost more, but it is more than worth it for a successful device. Quality matters when your reputation is on the line.

close up photo of a printed circuit board with large black component

Potential Overseas PCBA Manufacturing Problems

The biggest drawback to choosing an overseas PCBA manufacturer is the isolation between the design and manufacturing teams. When your partner resides in a different time zone, it can lead to other potential problems, including: 

  • Communication Lapses

Time and language differences can lead to communication challenges. 

  • Excessive Design Changes

Design changes may be misinterpreted, misunderstood, or excessive when communication is strained. 

  • Inability to Rapidly Institute Changes

The inefficiency of the process is one of the main drawbacks of an offshore PCBA. When changes aren’t implemented in a timely fashion, resources are wasted. 

  • Long Turnaround Times

Offshore partners create long turnaround times that may cost your project time and money. 

  • Insufficient Quality 

Many offshore standards don’t meet the quality you expect or need for success. 

  • Increased Costs

These unforeseen challenges will inevitably increase the cost of your project, costing you more in the long run than if you had hired a domestic ECM partner. 

  • Shipping Delays 

Shipping can inflate your costs exponentially, and overseas shipping is costly. In addition, you may be looking at a long shipping timeline with customs and tariffs. 

What You Can Expect from Domestic PCBA

For effective real-time collaboration, quick design change response, fewer regulatory requirements, high transparency, and fast delivery, a domestic PCBA partner is the best choice. The ease of communication elevates the capabilities of an onshore partner. Your relationship will be stronger, which, in turn, strengthens your project’s efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness. Some additional benefits of a domestic PCBA partnership include the following:

  • Transparency of Operations

Domestic PCBA partners have the transparency needed throughout the manufacturing process. 

  • Assurance of a Secure Design and Protected Intellectual Property

Your designs and intellectual property are much more robust and secure with a domestic PCBA partner. 

  • Real-Time Communication

Real-time communication means quickly responding to changes when needed.

What to Look for in a Domestic ECM

There are many benefits to outsourcing with the right domestic partner, including significant cost savings, better quality parts, and a more efficient, rapid production process. However, choosing the wrong ECM can result in less than favorable results. Knowing what to look for in a domestic ECM can help you avoid these common pitfalls.

engineering-partnership-kirkman

Turnkey Capabilities 

Look for an ECM with turnkey capabilities. Turnkey means an electronic contract manufacturer handles all aspects of the PCB manufacturing process for you, or as much or as little as you need them to. A turnkey facility is always a smart choice for an ECM partnership, as turnkey facilities can complete your entire project in-house with the experts, experience, and equipment needed to complete any project successfully. A turnkey shop means everything is done under one roof, so nothing is subcontracted. As a result, you get a quality product that meets your specifications. 

Certifications 

Certifications are critical. When your ECM has the proper certifications, it proves they’re dedicated to meeting industry regulations and standards and are committed to continuous improvement. In some industries, certifications are required to produce a product meeting the regulations and can’t be ignored. Before beginning your next project, ensure your ECM has the right certifications for the job. Here are some certifications to look for: 

  • ISO 9001 – The most widely recognized quality certification that demonstrates statutory and regulatory requirements and customer satisfaction. 
  • AS9100 – An aerospace quality management system considered a highly stringent quality standard. 
  • ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) - This certification from the United States Department of State controls imports and exports of sensitive defense-related materials and information. 
  • IPC and J Standards – These include electronic workmanship certifications for soldering cables and circuit board assemblies. 

Design Support

Look for an ECM partner offering full design support who also employs a team of in-house engineers, providing a quick turnaround for time-sensitive projects without sacrificing quality. Design support allows streamlined designs even for the most complicated designs, as they can be incorporated into high-speed multi-layer boards. The right ECM includes engineers experienced in CAD modeling and a variety of industries, including medical, defense, food safety, aerospace, and government projects. DFM analysis is vital for delivering the most cost-effective, streamlined, efficient design. You need engineers who understand how to incorporate DFM into your PCB design for the highest level of quality.

In-House Engineering Team

Turnkey PCB manufacturing includes on-site engineers who are present at each stage of production. Having an in-house engineering team is essential for PCB design and manufacturing. An extra set of eyes on your printed circuit board can streamline the design process, improving your ideas. In-house engineers remain on site from the onset to aid in mechanical design, electronic design, and software design. Having the right in-house engineering team on your side means they can tackle the most complicated and difficult design projects and applications. They can also examine your existing device and make suggestions to increase the reliability, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and manufacturability to optimize your production process. Having an experienced engineer onsite working on your PCB board design from the onset minimizes the need for troubleshooting or repairs later on down the line. 

Counterfeit Parts Mitigation Process in Place 

Since they can be difficult to distinguish from legitimate components, it’s essential to partner with a domestic ECM who has a successful mitigation process in place. This means they have developed and practice policies and procedures on avoiding and handling counterfeit components, including how to: 

  • Avoid purchasing suspected counterfeit parts 
  • Handle and track incoming and outgoing parts 
  • Manage and dispose of suspected counterfeit parts 

A reliable ECM partner implements counterfeit avoidance and management training programs, including: 

  • How to avoid purchasing counterfeit parts 
  • How to inspect parts and identify counterfeit components 
  • Training to all employees handling parts 

Vetted Supply Network 

Having a vetted supply chain at your disposal is vital to ensuring a quality product. If you use non-vetted suppliers, you risk low quality and counterfeit parts possibly being incorporated into your product. Partnering with a domestic ECM with a network of vetted suppliers can help with parts procurement, ensuring all parts have been tracked through an established supply-chain management process. A vetted supply network means you can feel confident the parts are high-quality and legitimate. 

Multi-Industry Experience

You need an ECM partner with multi-industry experience who understands the specific requirements associated with your industry, as not all have experience in all industries. A partner who understands that compliance with industry laws, regulations, guidelines, and specifications can affect each phase of the manufacturing process. 

Why Choose Levison Enterprises? 

Choosing a domestic ECM partner is the key to a successful project outcome. When searching for an ECM, it’s important to do your homework by asking the right questions and trusting your instincts. You can be confident your project is in the best hands with Levison Enterprises. We offer domestic, turnkey electronic contract manufacturing, complete with design and engineering services to build reliable, high-functioning PCBs for every application. Contact us today for a quote.

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