The Role of PCBs in Today’s Electronic Environment
In today’s electronic environment, PCBs are everywhere. Daily, we work with items that include circuit boards in almost every electronic device. Think of the following situations where many people are likely to encounter PCBs on a regular (and probably daily) basis:
- Motor vehicles;
- Cell phones;
- Tablets and computers;
- Household appliances;
- Office equipment;
- GPS navigation systems;
- Home exercise equipment;
PCBs are everywhere in the corporate world and industry as well, in situations such as automatic lighting and heating systems, medical equipment, hearing aids, home health monitors, home handyman tools such as snow blowers, manufacturing plants, trains, and planes… the list doesn’t stop! The US market for PCBs and component manufacture was estimated to be $44 Billion in 2014.
Bearing this in mind, the world of technology is changing more rapidly than most people ever imagined. As a result, technology is moving in new directions that had not been contemplated just a few years ago. There are implications for people, for industry, and for the providers of technology components.
If you take your mind back a few years, technically adept owners of home computers could open the lid and repair, upgrade, or possibly even build systems. More recently, manufacturers have put protocols in place that mean such actions risk of canceling factory warranties. Because of this, businesses that operate as small to medium electronic manufacturing and repair services have the opportunity to expand in two areas – licensed electronics and licensed computer repairs.
Tier I electronic manufacturers provide services to original equipment manufacturers. Tier II manufacturers provide services to Tier I organizations. Companies in both tiers are now looking for supply chain partners. A key area of the supply chain is having reliable circuit board suppliers. Suppliers of PCBs are being asked to develop processes that provide instant access and rapid shipping to customers anywhere around the country, and beyond.
Ideally, circuit board suppliers will have a team who are knowledgeable and informed. Companies with good staff can help their customers make informed decisions about PCB design requirements. They can also guide the policy and practice of PCB supply. They should be able to provide standard hard-board designs and flexible PCBs. Companies operating in this space will also need to be able to provide a range of service options for customers, including delivery of some or all parts of the design process. They should be able to provide quotes quickly and with sufficient detail for their clients to be able to easily understand the available choices.
The success of these companies can be directly linked to the identification of suppliers of the best products and components. With a poor supply of products, there is always a risk of a failure of a PCB. Such failures can be associated with two common causes: issues that weren’t identified in the design stage of the PCB production; or performance issues that are related to environmental stresses in the operating location of the PCB such as cold, humidity, heat, or dust.
The real goal of PCB suppliers is to ensure that customer can create their products without concern for the logistics and processes of ensuring the availability and quality of the PCBs. Tier I and II manufacturers may now have the capability of checking the quality integrity of all suppliers, especially if they operate offshore. However, a supply chain distributor can provide such checks. Larger suppliers can create a delivery and inventory system that helps ensure that end customers avoid the headaches of international shipment logistics. Through the use of a distributor of this nature, good PCB suppliers can ensure customers have a focus on what they do well – delivery of service in their sector of the technology market.