It can be frustrating for many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to get their product built and to market on time. By having a clear set of principles to follow, you can greatly decrease the chances of a production delay. Follow the six steps below and you’re well on your way to beating those deadlines!
- Diversify Manufacturing
- Stock Finished Boards
- Stock Raw Materials
- Avoid X-Ray
- Establish Testing Guidelines
In a recent survey, FedEx pointed out that the primary concern for OEMs was manufacturing diversification (cost reduction came in second). Having all production done via a single facility creates a single point of failure – bad weather, power outages, labor strikes, or equipment failure can shut down your entire assembly. Choosing a Contract Manufacturing (CM) partner with multiple manufacturing facilities can ensure timely delivery in the event things go wrong.
Stocking finished product in your own facility is one of the best ways to assure production timelines are met. Unfortunately, some companies don’t have the capital or the space to stock enough product for this to be effective. Having a CM partner inventory a “safety stock” of finished boards can build a buffer that safeguards the smooth running of your production line.
With the in-house manufacturing model of business, you continually monitor your Bill of Materials (BOM) and carry stock on the long lead-time items that could slow down the production process. But who is monitoring this in the outsourced turn-key model? While you could certainly monitor your BOM and then communicate changes to your CM partner, we recommend utilizing a CM that offers advanced BOM monitoring tools – so you’re kept informed, at no cost to you. Having a trusted source consistently monitoring your BOM for lead-time and lifecycle changes, like parts going End-of-Life (EOL), is critical.
Communicating your current and future needs to your CM will allow for more conscientious planning in the sourcing of raw materials. Some CMs are not willing to stock the raw materials prior to production; find a CM that understands the importance and will inventory items in advance. Someone in your production chain should absolutely be carrying stock for multiple builds, especially for long lead-time items.
Ball Grid Array (BGA) products require X-ray inspection to ensure all connections are made on a board. Hundreds of connections are located under the BGA and not visible via a standard inspection process. This dramatically increases the cost and adds additional time for production. BGA X-ray inspection is expensive and labor intensive due to the individual attention required for each board and is best avoided if possible.
Establishing clear and concise final testing guidelines will optimize the assembly process and reduce time to market. If you utilize a CM, allowing them to test the product can be a beneficial timesaver when it comes to production. If you don’t want your CM performing final testing, your products will require first article approval: your manufacturer will produce a few products; stop production; break down the line; submit the products for approval; and set the line back up for full production after the products are accepted and approved. This may add five to ten days to the assembly process. By empowering your CM partner to perform final testing, it can prevent time-to-market delays, increase yields, and ensure consistent quality on the first, and all future, production runs.
Successfully outsourcing your board level assemblies to a manufacturing partner should feel like a natural extension of your own in-house production team. Whether you produce your product in-house or outsource, you can reduce your time-to-market with these steps. Always ensure you are following industry best practices to maximize your time and profit.