Evaluating a PCB Assembler
The flood of printed circuit board (PCB) service providers in the market makes it very difficult for OEMs to decide the most suitable fabricator or assembler for their product. Rush PCB is hereby offering some guidelines on how to evaluate and select the PCB house that can be a perfect fit for a long-term cooperation.
Although PCB manufacturers offer several references and links justifying their suitability, and OEMs should inspect them carefully, the main consideration hinges on three aspects:
- PCB Types Handled—Industries Served, Quality, and Cost
- Engineering Capabilities—Certifications and Technology used
- Services Offered—Lead Time and Responsiveness
PCB Types Handled
The types of PCBs handled by manufacturer gives a broad view of their overall capabilities. With so many industries using PCBs, OEMs should look at specific industries the PCB house serves, preferably with strict and special requirements. PCB manufacturers can at best serve only a few industries at a time, as they will be proficient for certain industries and not so proficient for others. If the PCB manufacturer is serving industries similar to that of the OEM, then they could be a suitable choice, provided they meet other criteria.
Rush PCB supplies boards to Google, NASA, Nvidia, Fairchild, Linear Technology, Fitbit, GE, Intersil, and many others. Visit our website for more information.
Quality of the PCBs is an important factor to consider. The OEM must look for evidence of the use of Statistical Process Control (SPC) during the manufacturing process. They should also have implemented an overall quality administration improvement program such as TQM or QCC. Other things to look for may include equipment calibration, ESD implementation, BOM preservation, file administration, AQL level, SMT yield rate, material inspection record and administration, and whether they administer Engineering Change Order (ECO), as all of them affect the quality of PCBs.
One of the biggest elements driving the choice of a PCB assembler is their cost of operation. While this may not be directly visible without a financial audit, it does reflect in their quotations. OEMS should look for an integral quotation that includes all aspects of the PCB manufacturing, and does not have some hidden factors that they will reveal at a later period. Most reputed PCB manufacturers also offer some discounts on reorders. The discount comes mainly from non-recurring tooling costs, and manufacturers apply such strategies to form a long-term cooperation.
For a comprehensive quote, simply send your BOM to Rush PCB. We provide breakup of price for bare boards, components, and labor.
PCB quality is closely linked to the engineering capabilities of the manufacturer or assembler. It is usual for them to demonstrate these capabilities in two ways—through certifications and through technology they use. Manufacturer earn their certifications based on their manufacturing capabilities and their proven adherence to international standards such as ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 9001:2015, RoHS, UL, and more, to demonstrate the high quality of their products.
Rush PCB certifications include ISO 9001:2015, UL, IPC, RoHS. Please visit our website for more information.
OEMs can gain insight into the technological capabilities of the PCB manufacturer by looking for the in-house presence and use of machinery and processing capabilities pertaining to their requirement. For instance, if the OEM needs BGA processing capabilities, the manufacturer must own a BGA IC repair capability. Other important things to look for are capabilities such as panel processing, storage life administration, solder paste temperature and thickness monitoring, moisture sensitivity level monitoring, RoHS implementation. The manufacturer must also have the capability of reviewing circuits, providing DFM service, and the capability of soldering and repairing SMDs as small as 0201 or 01005.
OEMs should also look for up-to-date equipment when selecting a PCB manufacturer or assembler. This includes equipment for fabrication, assembly, and testing, such as for solder paste inspection, SMT pick and place, X-ray inspection, Automated optical inspection, and In-Circuit inspection. For some equipment, it is also important to check their accuracy, such as SMT pick and place machines, especially when they are to handle tiny components such as 0201 and 01005.
Rush PCB manufactures all types of PCBs including FR-4, multi-layer, flex, rigid-flex, and HDI. We undertake military and aerospace PCB assembly. Our website has more information, please visit.
Manufacturers may offer a number of added services that benefit OEMs. Total turnkey PCB assembly service is one such where the manufacturer takes the responsibility of manufacturing the PCB, procuring the components, assembling and testing them, and finally delivering the completed PCB. However, before submitting to such a service, OEMs should look for proper component sourcing capabilities.
Crucial component sourcing capabilities should include sourcing qualified components from leading global component distributors. It would be advantageous if the assembler accepted components supplied by the OEM, and if they stock surplus components for future projects.
Lead time, or the time the manufacturer takes from receipt of order to actual delivery of PCBs, is an important factor, as it affects the time to market for the OEM. Therefore, the OEM should always check whether the lead time is compatible with their requirements, and whether the manufacturer is able to maintain the delivery times.
Read About: Requirements for PCB Assembly Drawing
Responsiveness to the customer’s needs and requirements is another factor that seriously affects long-term association. The manufacturer should be able to react to new orders quickly. This may include fast reactions towards a change in the project before or during production, expanding manufacturing capabilities for urgent orders, and providing practical solutions during emergencies.
Rush PCB offers full turnkey solutions for PCB assembly. We accept all orders, including prototype, small production orders, or large-scale and continuous production orders.
Detailed investigation can lead to making an informed decision about the suitability of the PCB house in providing adequate and long-term services for the requirements of the OEM.