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How has COVID-19 Affected Manufacturing PCBAs?

Most people would consider themselves subscribers to a belief in either fate or free will. Each has its advantages. Those who trust in fate follow their instincts, assured that the results are as they’re meant to be. On the other hand, those who stand with free will act intentionally toward an outcome they influence. What if, instead, one could simultaneously take advantage of both of these doctrines?

Fortunately, developers of PCBAs and electronics can optimize the circuit board manufacturing process and achieve reliable outcomes, provided they make the right choices. During challenging times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s critical to make reliable choices, significantly when those actions by governments, enterprises, SMBs and individuals have severely impacted production across virtually all industries.

Let’s take a look at how COVID-19 has affected the manufacturing of PCBAs and how to ensure the reliability of your product development by selecting a CM whose process is COVID-19 proof.

How COVID-19 Has Impacted PCBA Manufacturing 

Enterprises and businesses in the industrial production sector were hit hard early during the pandemic and many were forced to cut back operations. However, as shown below, the US and European economies are starting to show signs of recovery in the manufacturing sector.

Industrial production changes over the last decade

Industrial manufacturing YOY % change 1999 - 2020


The graph above, from IPC’s November 2020 Economic Report: U.S. and EU Outlook, illustrates the overall decline in manufacturing by 3.6% from the previous year. This is the main contributor to the 5.3% decline in industrial production from 2019.

Hope is on the horizon, but the effects of COVID-19 on PCBA and electronics manufacturing (listed below) will continue to be felt for some time.

Effects of COVID-19 on PCBA Manufacturing

Indirect: Supply chain disruption
  • Reduced component manufacturing
  • Component shortages
  • Increased opportunity for counterfeits
  • Shipping delays and restrictions
Direct: Reduction in PCBA manufacturing capacity
  • Reduced and/or restricted operations

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As shown above, supply chain disruption is one of the significant effects on PCBA and electronics development and production due to COVID-19. Reasons for this include limited operations due to government-imposed safety restrictions, such as social distancing that some factories have found it difficult to adjust to, lack of component availability and limitations on transport and international commerce.

Another pandemic-induced impact is a reduction in capacity for circuit board contract manufacturers (CMs). Most often, fabrication houses and assemblers must comply with the same safety measures that other factories must follow. In areas with high infection rates, operations may shut down entirely unless the CM is a regular producer of essential electronics products, such as those for critical industries like medical devices, aerospace and automotive systems. Therefore, it continues to be important that your PCBA development strategy base itself upon mitigating the effects of COVID-19, as discussed below.

Mitigating the Effects of COVID-19 Affected Manufacturing of PCBAs 

As shown above, COVID-19 affects PCBA manufacturing, both directly and indirectly. Safety measures put in place by governments determine which companies can operate and to what extent. Operation limitations disrupt the supply chain of needed components and materials, which slows development and production. As these causes are mostly out of your control, it can be challenging to navigate restrictions and maintain operations. 

Nevertheless, the effects of COVID-19 affected manufacturing can be mitigated by following the suggestions below for direct and indirect effects.  

Avoiding Indirect Effects of COVID-19

  • Ensure CM works with well-supplied and reputable vendors
  • Ensure CM employs strong QA standards
  • Choose onshore CM

Avoiding Direct Effects of COVID-19

  • Choose an essential CM

As shown above, the key factor to avoiding disruption in your ability to meet PCBA development and/or production schedule and delivery requirements is the selection of your CM partner. The developer-CM relationship should be a symbiotic arrangement where transparency and visibility enable effective long-term planning for potential contingencies, even unexpected issues; such as the COVID-19 pandemic and its unforeseen impacts on elements of the PCBA development process.

The success of your PCBA development and/or production depends upon the capabilities and expertise of your CM, the conveying of accurate design intent to your CM and the quality of your developer-CM partnership. The key to meeting these essential objectives is a collaboration with your CM and a white box manufacturing process. However, not all CMs can satisfy the requirements for mitigating the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19. Therefore, you must select a CM that employs a COVID-19 proof PCBA manufacturing process to sustain and grow your operations during these challenging times.

Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Manufacturing Services
  • Virtual PCBA Contract manufacturing.
  • Rapid, accurate quotes.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Digital Thread Processing with real-time monitoring.
  • Fastest turnaround times in the industry to maximize ROI.
  • QC certified Agile Manufacturing process to support risk management.
  • Standard and Advanced QC testing.
  • Worry-free supply chain continuity.
  • Specialization in rapid prototyping and low-volume production.
  • PCBA development optimization for complex critical system industries like Aerospace, Medical Devices, Automotive, and Industrial.

Tempo Automation, the PCB industry leader in fast prototype and low-volume circuit board manufacturing, employs a software-based digital thread manufacturing process that is transparent and promotes open communication and collaboration. Tempo is considered an essential business and has continued to operate at full capacity throughout the pandemic. Therefore, you can be assured that your boards will be built quickly and to the highest standards.

To help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to view and download DRC files easily. 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 different 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 COVID-19 has affected PCBA manufacturing and how to mitigate these effects, contact us.

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