Automotive production without delays from automotive circuit board shortage

Navigating the Automotive Circuit Board Shortage Without Delays

In “Field of Dreams,” a movie starring Kevin Costner, a voice compels Costner’s character to go to extraordinary lengths to build a baseball field on his property. Convinced that if he built it, Shoeless Joe Jackson—a member of the infamous 1919 Chicago White Sox team would show up—his pursuit almost led to ruin. After Costner’s character gathered all of the people required, though, not only did Joe come, but he brought a host of other players as well. This movie presents an emotional example of how desired outcomes are possible, provided you have all of the required elements.

The process of constructing a PCBA may not be considered miraculous; however, it does require that all the necessary elements or components are available. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and manufacturers must contend with component shortages. In many cases, common components are in short supply even though there are alternatives, and this can be disruptive. However, when special components are hard to find, it can lead to unacceptable delays or the inability to build certain boards. Such is the case with the automotive circuit board shortage.

What Is the Automotive Circuit Board Shortage?

Analysts project that lost revenue by automotive manufacturers worldwide may exceed $200 billion in 2021. This is due to the automotive circuit board shortage and the inability of manufacturers to build critical PCBAs needed for automotive systems. While the global shortage is not limited to the automotive industry, vehicle manufacturers have been hit the hardest. In fact, companies have ceased production of some vehicle types and shut down factories.

Many people point to the restrictions put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary reason for the shortage of semiconductors, ICs and other automotive grade electronic components. There is no doubt that the component shortage is a supply chain issue that extends to a lack of sufficient materials for component manufacturers to meet demand. However, the level of disruption that temporary supply chain shutdowns would cause was woefully underestimated, as was the difficulty electronics producers would encounter due to this component uncertainty.

Navigating through Electronic Component Uncertainty

As disheartening as it may be, the issue is not going to disappear. We must develop a way to deal with the global component shortage. Therefore, you should adopt and follow some guidelines to secure your supply chain, as listed below.

How to Secure Your Automotive Circuit Board Supply Chain

  • Design for Sourceability
    Sourceability should be considered during design. Plan ahead by opting for components where supplies are extensive, as this may indicate that supply will be available for your development needs. If supplies change during development, a redesign may be required to avoid building bare boards that are useless until BoM components become available.
  • Buy components in bulk
    One of the best strategies for weathering component shortages is to buy in advance for predicted or estimated production needs. Not only does this help secure your supply chain, but it will also buffer you against cost increases when demand outpaces supply.
  • Work with an onshore CM
    There are many good reasons to work with an onshore CM, such as ease of communication, faster shipments and accessibility. However, your board supply chain is more secure and less susceptible to unforeseeable contingencies.
  • Have your CM stockpile materials
    Another good idea is to have your CM maintain an inventory of materials that meet the requirements for operation in the harsh automotive environment.

PCBA Manufacturing for Extreme Environments - Part 1

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  • Board cleaning and protection techniques to avoid contamination and premature failure.
  • Use reliable supplier component sourcing for quality, reliability, and traceability.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during PCB assembly to ensure quality for prototyping and low volume production.

Since the global shortages impacting the electronics development supply chain are disruptive and here to stay, you should take steps to secure your supply chain, such as working with an experienced and certified automotive CM. At Tempo Automation, the industry leader in fast, high-quality PCBA prototyping and low-volume manufacturing, we have experience building boards for harsh environments like automotive systems.

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 the automotive circuit board shortage and how to mitigate its effects, contact us.

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