There are many complexities in designing, building, and manufacturing printed circuit boards. One concern that remains consistent in manufacturing across industries—whether it be for medical technology, aerospace, industrial, or automotive—is protecting the component supply chain.
While this aspect of the PCBA manufacturing process has always been a challenge, it is particularly troublesome during the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, which adds new disruptions like extended delivery times and shortages. Unfortunately, for engineering teams who are racing to quickly deliver new medical technology for example, there is no time for error or delays—they need dedicated, reliable inventory management for first-time-right boards.
With this new complexity in the supply chain, engineering teams need to carefully consider their choice for PCBA fabrication and assembly services. Now, as we face an ever-growing sea of uncertainties in the industry, digital thread manufacturing is standing out for its ability to help teams navigate the growing complexities of the component supply chain.
What Is Digital Thread Manufacturing?
Digital thread manufacturing transforms the method of spinning boards into a new software-accelerated PCB technology. Leveraging IIoT, software-powered automation, and robotics, this method links all the processes, machines, and people involved with board development—from the components themselves to the boards to design data. By enabling once isolated machines to share data amongst each other and to other equipment, robots, and team members wirelessly, the method of digital thread manufacturing transforms production facilities into smart factories.
At Tempo Automation, our smart factory is founded on proprietary software and automation that creates an unbroken digital thread from design to delivery. It is this digital thread that is proving to be the secret sauce for helping shore up the component supply chain during COVID-19.
How the Digital Thread Shores Up the Component Supply Chain
In the turbulent past few months, Tempo’s deep plumbing of the supply chain network has become a significant asset for engineering teams who need reliable inventory management, because it tracks supplier status and capacity, identifies alternate FAB materials, adds additional suppliers, and leverages in-house tools. Here’s how that helps engineers:
1) Tracks Supplier Status and Capacity
At Tempo, we have a unique system for tracking supplier status and capacity in real-time across the entire supply chain—from raw materials to last-mile delivery. With this system, our supply chain team tracks close to 200 suppliers, so engineering teams can be sure they’re sourcing the materials best suited for their prototypes.
2) Identifies Alternate FAB Materials
When working with our customers to deliver first-time-right board builds, the Tempo team gets creative to solve problems. For example, we consistently work to identify all available alternate FAB materials for engineers’ board builds. With our network of pre-qualified and audited PCB vendors, we identify material alternatives in coordination with the customers’ AVL BOMs to secure components for each reference designator.
3) Adds Additional Suppliers
Besides tracking suppliers’ status and identifying alternate materials and components, our team is also continuously adding additional suppliers to our supply chain network across all material categories. This ensures overall material availability for our customers, further helping them to realize their prototypes with unparalleled speed and precision.
4) Leverages In-House Tools
Finally, the digital thread in Tempo’s smart factory also leverages in-house tools, like DFM/A review services that can help customers accelerate and improve their PCB designs by suggesting the components and/or sources that are most ideal for their board build.
Like all other facets of manufacturing, the supply chain has experienced significant disruption due to COVID-19—but in the face of this crisis, manufacturers must continue to mature and enrich their factories with new technological capabilities that optimize and increase efficiencies to help engineering teams overcome these obstacles.
|Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Services for First-time-right Manufacturing
Thus, it is now more imperative than ever that contract manufacturers employ a digital thread manufacturing process, which we do at Tempo Automation. Beginning on day one, we will work with you to ensure that your boards are built to the highest quality faster than anyone in the industry. Moreover, we provide transparent tracking of your boards throughout the process.
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.