Usually, an electronic Contract Manufacturer (CM) offers multiple services like PCB fabrication and assembly, cable assembly, prototyping, testing, and troubleshooting along with some post-production and assembly services. Partnering with the right Contract Manufacturer can bring down the supply chain cost and reduce your product output time significantly.
A perfect contract manufacturer is one who can align with your company's goals. They should have great technical expertise along with competent customer service to offer.
We have outlined below, top Dos and Don’ts that will enable you in hiring the best PCB Assembly provider, also known as a Contract Manufacturer (CM).
Starting with the Top Do’s list:
1. Do exhaustive research on the background of all prospective CMs, before setting up a meeting to go forward. Look for their quality policies and certifications on their website to get an idea of their operating standards.
2. Do check the location of your CM and the feasibility of multiple visits to the location if required. It is necessary to visit your CM’s location to evaluate their quality process and work culture.
3. Do provide clear project objectives to your CM before finalizing the contract. There should not be any scope to misinterpret the expected targets after signing the contract.
4. Do enquire about the experience and project domains your prospective CM has worked so far. They need to know the prerequisites for assembling PCBs of your product range.
6. Do check the testing capabilities and fault correction methods followed by your CM. This is very crucial when there are high-volume production and assembly requirements.
7. Do verify the timelines followed by your CM. Ask for the details of their previous projects handled with other existing or old customers. This can indicate their capability to meet the deadlines.
8. Do enquire if your CM offers Design for Manufacturability (DFM) and Design for Testability (DFT) services. A DFM analysis can provide vital information on component placement, assembly feasibility, etc. while a DFT report helps to achieve quality control by providing recommendations on the PCB’s test point accessibility.
9. Do confirm with your CM regarding the file formats used and other labeling nomenclatures followed. This will ease the handover of design files and can help in the quick ramp-up of the assembly line.
10. Do sign an NDA agreement with your CM to protect your company’s Intellectual properties. This is very important for a strong partnership with your CM.
11. Do ask for the quotations and understand the billing process of your CM. Check for any hidden charges and ask for clarifications to understand the complete billing beforehand.
12. Do evaluate customer support offered by your CM. Check for the availability of a dedicated team and point of contact for your project. Also, verify the experience of the team that will work on your project.
Check the Don’ts list below:
1. Don’t rush to finalize the CM just by referrals. Technical Requirements are not the only criteria to consider. So, an exhaustive verification is a must before hiring any CM for your PCB Assembly.
2. Don’t focus on price alone. Though some of the CMs offer low-cost services, they might be compromising on quality or timelines.
3. Don’t hesitate to request customer testimonials. A well-established CM must be able to provide customer reviews from their current or past happy customers.
4. Don’t limit your scope of work to the existing requirement alone. Verify if the CM provides other associated services like design, testing, or troubleshooting along with the assembly services. This information can come in handy in case of future project requirements.
5. Don’t accept CMs having only a single source for component supply. This can be detrimental in the case of bulk orders and strict timeline projects.
6. Don’t proceed if the CM doesn’t have any existing process to handle assembly failures. It would cost you both money and time if there is no support from the CM to detect and fix the assembly line failures.
7. Don’t agree if the CM can’t provide necessary certifications regarding their adherence to the industry standards. It is a mandatory requirement for your CM to be compliant with required quality and safety standards.
8. Don’t hire a CM who is not quick in responding to your queries and not providing enough clarifications for your doubts/questions.
The above list of Dos and Don’ts provides a consolidated checklist for hiring the best PCB Assembly provider. So, it’s a combination of technology, quality, delivery, and cost of service that needs to be evaluated. A group of people from various domains need to collectively discuss all the available options before deciding on one particular contract manufacturer. It's not just the low cost or latest technology that can finalize the decision, but a combination of features as discussed above.
If the initial discussions with your prospective contract manufacturer look promising then following the above Dos and Don’ts shall assist you in hiring the best contract manufacturer for your PCB assembly.