The coronavirus pandemic has complicated many components of our lives, and the process of hardware development is not immune. There are dozens of factors contributing to the challenges of the new normal—from remote work and stay-at-home orders to travel restrictions and complexities in the supply chain.
In the midst of all this uncertainty, normal operations have been thrown to the wayside, and businesses in all industries are being forced to find ways to rapidly adapt to this new reality—and the pressure to reduce risks in electronics manufacturing, especially in fast-turn PCBA manufacturing, has never been so high.
The Engineer’s Juggling Act: Achieving High Quality at High Speeds for Highly Complex Boards Could Equal High Risk
Manufacturing highly complex prototypes at high speeds while mitigating high risks to maintain the highest levels of quality has always been a priority for designers and engineers; however, in a coronavirus-impacted world, it is now more important than ever to reduce risks for mission critical manufacturing.
This is particularly vital in essential businesses like medical technology, where there is a heavy price to pay for any errors in the board build. As the medical community faces unprecedented challenges, electronics engineers designing medical devices, such as parts for ventilators and prototypes for new treatment machinery, need guaranteed, first-time-right success in their board builds.
Now that more businesses are beginning to come back online and manufacturing for non-essential business resumes, another critical market that is under pressure to deliver are semiconductors. In this industry, engineering teams often spend a lot of money on prototyping, but adjusting to today’s new normal of business operations requires that they focus on mitigating high costs, thus further increasing the need to reduce risks in manufacturing and get boards done right the first time.
Finding the Right Contract Manufacturer to Help Mitigate Risk
To navigate today’s electronics manufacturing industry with the continuously evolving ramifications of COVID-19, engineering teams need creative, efficient ways to enable them to realize their highly complex designs with high quality at high speeds while mitigating high costs and risks.
To remove the risks associated with mission critical PCBA manufacturing, engineers need to work with a contract manufacturer (CM) who can offer software-first PCBA, transparent DMF tools, and open communication throughout the process.
Unlike traditional manufacturing processes, in which iteration cycles can take weeks or even months due to manual, slow-moving processes, software-based PCBA manufacturing uses end-to-end software automation to expedite the build process, saving engineers time, money, and resources.
At Tempo Automation, we’ve developed proprietary software and automation that drives our smart, connected factory through the entire manufacturing journey, automating processes wherever possible while augmenting human skills in other areas. Driven by both agile hardware and software development processes, this software-first approach to PCBA manufacturing yields significant improvements in capacity and throughput, enabling engineers to achieve the high quality, high reliability, and high speed that they need to succeed in this new reality of mission critical manufacturing.
Transparent DFM Tools
For coronavirus-impacted manufacturing, it also behooves engineers to work with a CM who can bring new levels of transparency to Design for Manufacturing (DFM).
From the very beginning of the prototyping process, the CM should put engineers on the best path for development by furnishing information for DFM checks to enable engineers to easily view and download their files. At Tempo, our Board Visualizer platform surfaces manufacturing data from Tempo’s digital feedback loop to increase transparency in the smart factory and enable new insight into customer designs for electronics engineers. By creating a manufacturing-aware representation (or a ‘digital twin’) of a PCB, the Board Visualizer gives customers a comprehensive view of their board. These transparent, in-house DMF tools work to flag any unresolved issues in the PCB design and then propose design changes before engineers place their order—not after they get their board back. By addressing potential design issues before beginning the build process, Tempo’s Board Visualizer helps engineers get the first-time-right boards that they need to help them get their critical products to market faster.
The PCB Design Development Checklist
Finally, a sound PCBA manufacturing process cannot be complete without reliable, open communication between the CM and the engineering team.
With open communication that facilitates transparency into the status of the project, e.g., the timeline and expected delivery date, engineers can be sure that their project is staying on track—this is particularly important in today’s climate, where travel restrictions may limit engineers from visiting the CM’s factory to manually check the status on their boards themselves.
Unlike traditional CMs, the Tempo team and its smart, connected factory create a single thread of rich data that fills the communication gap between engineer and manufacturer. Compared to the normative black-box approach, Tempo’s open communication allows engineers to fully track the details of their board build, so they can have confidence in achieving first-time-right success.
By working with a contract manufacturer that focuses on software-first PCBA, visual DMF tools, and reliable transparency, engineering teams can ensure that they have a reliable partner to help them reduce high risks and navigate the ever-changing waters of coronavirus-impacted prototyping—particularly for essential businesses who need to focus on mitigating high risks because the cost of getting it wrong is just simply too high.
|Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Services for First-time-right Manufacturing
At our smart factory in downtown San Francisco, we produce boards faster than anyone else in the industry. Additionally, our Virtual PCBA contract manufacturing allows us to meet your prototyping and low-volume production requirements for all of the major risks that may threaten your ability to deliver for your clients.
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 CAD files or how to incorporate your design into a CAD format, contact us.