Many Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) share the frustration of getting 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. Here are some suggestions that could assist you in achieving your production goals.
In a recent survey, FedEx pointed out that the number one OEM concern was manufacturing diversification, with cost reduction coming in second place. By having all of your production done through one facility, bad weather, power outage, fire, 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 Boards
Stocking finished product in your own facility is the best way to assure production timelines are met, but many companies don’t have the capital or 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 ensures smooth running of your production line at all times.
In the in-house manufacturing model of business, you continually monitor your Bill of Materials (BOM) and make sure you carry stock on the long lead-time items that could slow down the production process. However, who is watching out for this in the outsourced turn-key model? You could certainly monitor your BOM, and then communicate changes with your CM partner, but many CMs offer advanced BOM monitoring tools to keep you informed for free. Having a trusted source constantly monitor your BOM for lead-time changes and life cycle changes, like parts going End-of-Life (EOL), is critical.
Understanding your current and future needs will allow for more conscientious planning. You should be aware of what parts have long lead-times so you are able to stock those parts and reduce the time to production. Most 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. It is critical someone in your production chain is carrying stock for multiple builds, especially for long lead-time items.
Ball Grid Array (BGA) products require x-ray inspection (pictured) to ensure all connections are made on a board. This is due to hundreds of connections being located under the product and not visible for normal 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 final testing guidelines will optimize the assembly process and is essential in reducing time-to-market. If you utilize a CM, giving them the ability to test the product can be a huge time saver when it comes to production. If you don’t allow your manufacturer final testing, your products will require first article approval. This means that your manufacturer will produce a few products, stop production, break down the line, submit the products to you for approval, and then set the line back up for full production after the products are accepted as meeting standards. This may add 5-10 days to the assembly process. By giving your CM partner the ability to do 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.