“It is coming soon.” This is one of the most common responses given by enterprises to investors and clients when asked when their highly anticipated innovative product will be ready. Of course, this answer may seem intentionally vague to those who want an explicit date. Yet, for those involved in the development, this is often the most accurate estimate possible. And this may be true regardless of the urgency under which the product’s development is undertaken.
Unfortunately, innovative PCBAs and electronics are not immune to development time unpredictability. This is due to the many stages of development, each with its own processes and considerations. Not to mention the imperative of ensuring design intent is preserved throughout. Even though it may not be always possible to definitively estimate a product launch date, it is possible to optimize the board building process, thereby minimizing the time required for development. In this article, ways to accomplish this goal are presented after first exploring some of the underlying reasons why new product development and introduction is so unpredictable.
Why Is It Difficult to Predict New Electronics Product Launch Dates?
As shown in the figure below, PCBA manufacturing is one of the main stages of development.
The PCBA development cycle for new products
The circuit board development cycle shown above is the proving ground or prototyping phase of new product development for electronics, as all electronics systems are comprised of PCBAs and rely upon them for successful operation.
According to a recent survey of PCB industry professionals by Electronic Design magazine on the current state of PCBA manufacturing, the time to receive completed boards, including the time to get the quote, for a complex design can range from approximately a week to more than five weeks. Add to this the bring up or functionality testing to ensure that performance criterion are met and any regulatory testing that may be required, and it is easy to see why it is difficult to accurately estimate new product rollouts. However, there are ways in which the manufacturing stage of new product development and introduction can be leveraged to reduce the overall time required to bring a new design to launch, as discussed in the next section.
How to Optimize New Product Development and Introduction for PCBAs
The path from idea to product is not linear. In fact, board development is cyclic and typically requires at least 2-3 iterations of design, build and test before an acceptable quality level is achieved. For more complex boards, which are typical for critical industries, such as aerospace, medical devices, and automotive systems, seven or more board spins are not common. As your boards are built by a contract manufacturer (CM), it is imperative you select a CM with the most important PCBA capabilities required to ensure the best board builds throughout the prototyping process. By making an efficient process a primary objective, along with quality, and following the suggestions below, PCBA manufacturing can be optimized for your new product development and introduction.
Ways to Maximize PCBA Manufacturing Speed for New Product Development
- Optimize component selection
To learn what contingencies affect component procurement, read this article.
- Ensure design data is complete and accurate
Refer to this article, for the best design file format for manufacturability.
- Follow a regimen to avoid quote delays
Read this article to learn what steps you should take to minimize the chance of quote delays.
- Establish open and transparent means of communication
Explore why universal data access improves board development in this article.
- Design and build to the board’s IPC classification
All board builds do not have to be the same. In this article, the requirements for different IPC classifications are defined.
- Ensure process supply chains are well managed
The aerospace industry probably has the best process for securing the component supply chain, as this article describes. However, it is just as important to effectively manage the data supply chain, which is discussed in this article.
By following these guidelines and partnering with the right CM, you will be able to deliver your new board and/or electronic device as soon as possible. There are many challenges to new product development and introduction, not least of which is how soon will the innovation be ready to roll out. By optimizing the PCBA manufacturing stage of development, the time required to have a presentable MVP for your clients can be minimized.
|Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Manufacturing Services
At Tempo Automation, the industry leader in fast, high-quality PCBA prototyping, we employ a software-driven digital thread manufacturing process that maximizes collaboration, incorporates agility, and produces high yields.
And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.
If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on how to utilize your board’s manufacturing process to optimize new product development and introduction, contact us.