How to Cut Costs by Improving Quality During Contract Assembly

With so many manufacturers faced with the prospect of cutting quality in order to cut costs – we’ve learned that a more quality-oriented alternative isn’t just possible, but more viable and effective in the long-term. With this in mind, it’s important to consider the contract assembly process a critical opportunity to add value and lower costs.

In addition to being low-cost, a company’s PCBA must function well—which means that the assembly process must take into account the tolerances of both the board and its included components. A properly designed PCBA helps to improve quality, reduce manufacturing time and lower product cost.

Quality assembly takes every factor into consideration to help eliminate errors and prevent costly delays. Following, you will find the hallmarks of our approach to maximizing quality and savings throughout the contract surface mount assembly process.

  • Identify build standards and assembly documentation early: IPC-A-610 is accepted worldwide as a standard for high-quality, high-reliability PCBA assemblies. Some assemblies may require different workmanship standards as laid down by IPC-A-610.
  • Maximize automation: The more hand assembly you rely on, the greater your costs will be. It’s that simple. There are plenty of automated contract manufacturing companies in the U.S. and abroad that can help you keep costs low.
  • Minimize damage with careful placement: Components should be placed 6.35 mm from the PCB edge. With regard to potential damage during depanelization, parallel to the edge is better.
  • Plan for delicate components: Delicate components, such as ceramic capacitors, are at risk of cracking when they are placed too close to the edge. Manufacturing equipment clamping mechanisms require un-obstructed room to grab the PCB effectively.
  • Component spacing is critical: This is particularly true around ball grid assemblies (BGAs)—.150″ spacing is recommended. This spacing allows enough room for hot air rework tools if upgrades or replacement is required.

Bonus Tip: Good Assembly Documentation is Vital

In addition to all of the above steps. High-quality assembly at an efficient price can never come if expectations and specifications aren’t clear. This is where assembly documentation comes in.

  • Specify the Solder Type: In order to prevent unwanted delays or expenses, assembly documentation should always specify the solder type. Whether it’s  tin-lead material or RoHS and Flux, this is the type of essential information that should be readily available.
  • Include labeling and traceability requirements:  Identifying product labeling and traceability requirements on assembly documentation is an extra step that can severely reduce headaches further down the line. The label location should be identified with a box in the silkscreen layer.

Better contract assembly is something Distron takes seriously. Contact us today to learn how. For insight into how we approach efficient and effective contract manufacturing for a wide variety of specifications, visit our case studies page.

 


Designing a Lower-Cost Circuit Board Assembly

There’s an old adage in manufacturing:  “Cost, quality, and delivery: pick two.”

Like many old sayings, this is an oversimplification. Manufacturers can create a lower-cost, high-quality product with diminished lead time – even for complex products such as printed circuit boards. The key lies in careful planning and clever design, focusing on ease of manufacture.

The Manufacture of a PCBA Consists of Four Cost Elements

  1. ·     The PCB fabrication including copper, gold,  epoxy and laminates.
  2. ·     The electronic components on the bill of material.
  3. ·     The cost of assembling the components to the board.
  4. ·     Testing the finished printed circuit board assembly.

Manufacturing a PCBA? Follow Our Cost Saving Tips

Working with an experienced contract manufacturer allows companies to minimize the cost of fabrication, raw materials, assembly and testing. Input from a good CM will result in a lower-cost PCBA that doesn’t sacrifice quality or functionality

When it comes to PCBA manufacturing, cost and quality don’t have to be at odds. Have a question about the process? Our expertise provides the answer. 

Reducing PCB Fabricating Cost through Smart Design

The PCB is the centerpiece of a design. To minimize cost during fabrication, it is imperative to focus on a few key design principles. Including the following: 

  • Aim for the smallest board dimension and the fewest number of layers. Minimize the amount of gold and copper. Adhere closely standard materials and equivalents laid down in IPC-4101.
  • Specify standard green solder mask and a standard RoHS surface finish such as HASL for low complexity PCBs. For medium to high complexity boards, HASL is not preferred since it does not provide a flat surface. In this case, Immersion Gold is the preferred finish.
  • When designing PCBs to endure a high thermal load, note that the glass transition temperature (Tg) isn’t a measure of the maximum operating temperature—rather, the board will be able to operate at this temperature only for a short period of time.
  • Placing fiducials on the top copper layer of a board allows pick-and-place vision systems to detect boards more accurately.
  • Where possible, allow X-outs (defective boards on a panel) as this will ensure higher yields for the manufacturer and lower product cost for the customer
  • V-scoring, as opposed to routing, is recommended as the best, most cost-effective way to break out boards from a multi-up array. Routing will usually leave excess material on the edge of a board after separation.

Reducing PCB Design Through Smart Communication

Communication is an important factor in just about any relationship. But when it comes to manufacturing for electronic products – open lines of communication and collaboration with fabricators are absolutely essential.

  • Use clarity in design documents, and again communicate clearly with fabricators.
  • Not every fabricator will be able to replicate a particular laminate stack-up. Up front, define the minimum trace width, the minimum distance between traces, and the smallest hole diameter.
  • Allow the board fabricator to design the multi-up pallet for smaller boards.
  • Ensure that the fabricator knows the material specifications of the PCB laminate by indicating this in the fabrication drawing. For ROHS assemblies, the laminate must have a Tg greater than or equal to 175 degrees C.
  • Upon PCB design completion provide the contract manufacturer with Gerber files and dimensional drill drawings. Make sure to include fabrication notes on the drill drawing with specifications.

Smart Design and smart communication – that’s all it takes. Have a question about contract circuit board assembly? Distron has the answer.

 


Staying Local: More than Just a Feel-Good Catchphrase when it Comes to Manufacturing

buy-manufacturing-local

From supporting local economies to more effective disaster management, manufacturing locally keeps U.S. companies in control of their economies and their products.

Buying Local Supports the Local Economy
Manufacturing locally, at its most fundamental level, supports a local economy. The circles of this local work ripple through many organizations and strengthen the U.S. economy. In addition, companies that produce in the U.S. pay taxes to the U.S. government.

Many small- to-mid-sized OEMs aren’t scaled to handle the nuances of offshore production, and prefer to have an intimate relationship with their electronic contract manufacturer.”

But there are other benefits to keeping the manufacturing chain local. For instance, many small- to-mid-sized OEMs aren’t scaled to handle the nuances of offshore production. Companies like these prefer to have an intimate relationship with their electronic contract manufacturer. For them, the close support throughout the design and production process helps realize a better end-product capable of delivering greater value in the long-run.

This relationship also proves beneficial when OEMs require last-minute product changes. An OEM, for example, might realize there is a design problem and it needs to change a circuit board layout. If it relies on an overseas manufacturer, an OEM has to relay the desired changes through emails, phone calls and video conferences if it can’t quickly jump on a plane. Working with a local contract manufacturer enables representatives to simply jump in a car (or a short flight) and go over product changes in person, alleviating confusion and saving time. A local manufacturer can react to those changes quickly and efficiently.

Close production ties also provide the flexibility to ramp-up or ramp-down production at almost a moment’s notice. Usually, ramping-up can be difficult to achieve, but a contract manufacturer that’s equipped to change production can handle an order increase without difficulty. It can also change the product requirements of an order without hesitation.

Flexibility, fast delivery, adherence to specifications – these aren’t promises that are made to be broken. Unlike an overseas manufacturer that can duck the tough questions and not answer why it didn’t uphold its end of the bargain, a U.S. manufacturer stands by its word. It’s easy to hide when you’re overseas.

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Increase Your Bottom Line With Electronic Manufacturing Services

If you stop and take a look around, you can see that manufacturing plays a major role in our day to day lives. From the keyboard that is being used to type this article to the screen that is used to display it. In addition electronic components in your car, home and cell phone reply on some sort of electronic manufacturing service. Today these manufacturing services are highly specialized to specific product needs and requirements.

One would define electronic manufacturing services as a term used for companies that design, test, manufacture, repair and manage the supply chain for electronic parts and components. In today’s world, electronics are becoming faster and more sophisticated on what seems like a weekly basis. With this we have seen the complexity of operations increase rapidly and the need for electronic manufacturing services increase.

By completing the defined tasks listed above the customer is freed from many responsibilities. The customer then does not need to keep large inventories of products. In case of a rapid spike in demand for a product, the electronic manufacturing services company will be prepared to handle the new demand. They are also more readily equipped to have a faster and more productive turnaround.

This process is a cost efficient way for businesses to streamline their operations on a daily basis. The growth of these electronic manufacturers is increasing year to year as customers bottom lines improve. One of the leading reasons why companies are outsourcing manufacturing services is due to the fact that these business services have many more resources to obtain the raw materials that are needed for electronic components. The cost to obtain the parts themselves can be time consuming and expensive for businesses. When customers commit to outsourcing it is then the manufacturers’ responsibility to be the material handler from start to finish. These outfits already have established connections to obtain the necessary materials that are needed to complete your project on time.

Successful outsourcing programs will help decrease or possibly eliminate the downtimes that electronic companies may have previously experienced. We all know that meeting deadlines is critical for company reputation and profitability. Companies who are not familiar with large runs of a product could be at risk of having their supplier not send parts in time to keep assembly lines in motion. Also when considering a partnership with an outsourcer you might consider asking for the company’s delivery policy to ensure that all product delivery deadlines are met to your satisfactory.

Would you like to know more about Electronic Manufacturing Services at Distron? Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.


What to Look for in an Electronic Contract Manufacturer

Electronic contract manufacturing plays a vital role for businesses and industries around the world. But before getting into what separates the good from the bad, a brief definition of an electronic contract manufacturer might help.

On a very basic level, electronic contract manufacturers like Distron (otherwise known as “ECMs”) use advanced manufacturing technology and machinery to produce the intricate components many of our electronics rely on.

A number of industries take advantage of electronic contract manufacturing when they need a fast, effective, and reliable source for complex assembly. These industries often include the aerospace, defense, computer, semiconductor, energy, medical, food manufacturing, personal care, and automotive fields.

One of the most common fallacies these days is that all of the electronic contract manufacturing businesses have moved overseas in search of greater cost savings. Apart from being living proof that this isn’t true, Distron is proud to be proof that this fallacy isn’t exactly true — especially for high precision applications in the aerospace, defense, and medical industries.

But what makes a good electronic manufacturer? When looking for the right contract manufacturer for your project, you must make a few considerations. At Distron, we take all of the following into mind when optimizing our processes, services, and customer support.

Relationships:

Will another contract manufacturer push you to the bottom of the queue when a high-volume project comes along and demands next-day delivery?

At Distron, when we’re working on your project — you are number one. For any contract manufacturer, relationships are important. As a business, you have to be confident that your manufacturing will be completed in a timely fashion — not pushed back because something else came along.

What is best, is what Distron offers. A real relationship from as early as the prototype stage to full production. This gives us a full understanding of your product and the ability to identify any ways to improve it, while avoiding costly pitfalls and delays. This dedication to an actual relationship ensures that you get the patience, time, and resources necessary when it comes to developing a product that has been designed and optimized for quality and cost efficiency.

Staying Competitive:

Any good electronic contract manufacturer should be focused on helping you stay competitive. This is particularly true at Distron, where our specialty is working with small to medium sized companies. This involves a variety of processes ranging from helping you stay up to date with industry trends to helping you prepare for various regulations pertinent to your products or components.

Flexibility:

Because of the variety of different products and components that rely on effective ECM, a good provider should be able to demonstrate a high degree of flexibility in terms of its structure, processes, and equipment. Flexibility is absolutely necessary when it comes to accommodating various customers, products, and timelines. At Distron, we accomplish this flexibility by offering a wide variety of services ranging from PCB assembly, supply chain management and BGA repair to comprehensive inspection and testing services. At the same time, remaining flexible also means having strong distributor relationships for greater cost efficiency and reliability.

When all of these factors come together, businesses get a contract manufacturing resource that offers the many benefits of manufacturing in America with a level of cost efficiency comparable to off-shore manufacturing.

Would you like to know more about contract manufacturing at Distron? Please don’t hesitate to contact us today.