A Checklist of Points to Select a Manufacturer of Printed Circuit Board

A Checklist of Points to Select a Manufacturer of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Assemblies

When it comes to selecting a contract manufacturer to outsource the PCB assembly work, there are seven areas that should be taken into account when making a decision about the optimal PCB assembly company:

Selecting a contract manufacturer that is at a manageable distance from your business gives you more flexibility and agility to adapt to changing conditions, especially when the deadline is imminent. A PCB assembly company located in your regional area is also more convenient when site inspections are required and when there is a shortage of materials and components.

The functionality of the manufacturing equipment of a PCB contract manufacturer is critical to its ability to meet contract requirements. Do you have new or obsolete equipment? Are the collection and placement machines, the reflow ovens and the wave soldering equipment well maintained? Reviewing your maintenance records can give you confidence that the company is serious about quality. This creates trust in the business association.

To ensure that the PCB contract assembler can complete its production, timely execution requires not only well-maintained equipment, but also certified assembly technicians. Therefore, review the training and certification records of the assembly staff. Make sure they have obtained the technical credentials to enable them to perform their assigned tasks. For those staff members who are not certified, check their progress in the certification process.

A Checklist of Points to Select a Manufacturer of Printed Circuit Board

Does the assembly company have a quality system such as ISO 9001: 2008? This must be the minimum certification reached by the company to guarantee that they can offer a quality product. If you have another quality system, is the company certified by an authorized registrar? Finally, would the PCB assembly company agree to invest to obtain the certification of the same quality system as your company? By doing so, it means that the company is committed to a long-term business relationship with you.

The ability to meet shipping deadlines is a critical metric so you can determine if a contracted manufacturer has the capacity, personnel and resources to meet the needs of your business. When possible, obtain records from your China PCB manufacturer regarding their ability to meet deadlines. Get a detailed understanding of who makes the PCBs and where they are produced.

Conduct a review of your purchasing department. Do they maintain an adequate internal inventory? Are your suppliers locally, regionally or geographically diverse and what is the nature of those relationships with suppliers? Are the relationships close enough so that the cost discounts can easily be passed on to you? How does your purchasing department deal with parts that are difficult to obsolestrate? Do they have procurement specialists who are experienced in supplying spare parts for obsolete parts? Can you take your schematics / drawings and develop a list of materials with little or no assistance from you?

As labor rates vary, you must obtain a detailed breakdown of the total manufacturing cost. Verify what is included in the manufacturing costs with your China PCB manufacturer. Then you must conduct a cost comparison study to determine if your costs are commensurate with the industry average and your competitors. Make sure you have an accurate comparison of all costs and the final price.