For designers, optimizing component selection, especially for semiconductors, is highly imperative as it can affect every aspect of PCBA board development. A substandard or counterfeit semiconductor can impact the voltage and current levels of the board or device. Semiconductors with poor thermal properties and moisture sensors can even influence board temperature, packaging, and moisture levels as well. In either case, additional reworks would be required, adversely impacting a company’s estimated budget, reputation, and bottom line.
To avoid these setbacks, it’s important to understand how semiconductor supply chain challenges can present themselves and ways to overcome them.
Semiconductor Supply Chain Challenges
Long Production Lead Times
Component shortages persist. CMs may face unpredictable development times in the event of PCB component unavailability, including semiconductors. Choosing a CM who can quickly incorporate component and/or package changes to avoid manufacturing delays is a must.
Semiconductor Attribute Limitations
Failing to determine the required attributes of a semiconductor for a specific application can render even acceptable semiconductors unusable for your design. These attributes may include alternative semiconductor materials, doping limits, thermal conductivity, band gap energy, temperature, resistance, and moisture sensitivity.
Component lifecycles are essential selection parameters when it comes to choosing the right semiconductor during the design state. A component’s lifecycle starts when it is introduced to the market and ends when it is made obsolete through technological advancement. Thus, it is crucial that the lifecycle of the selected semiconductor aligns with the prototyping and production stages of PCB development. Otherwise, the disconnect may result in unnecessary designs, significantly affecting your ROI and further creating semiconductor supply chain challenges.
Limited Sourcing Options
Many enterprises and industries who were forced to cut down supply during the Covid-19 pandemic are still struggling to recover from the aftermath. Moreover, industries running on limited capacity due to government-imposed regulations are leaving board manufacturers with a limited number of vendors.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Semiconductor supply chain disruptions are known to every PCB manufacturer and designer. They cannot be exclusively attributed to global pandemics, however. Some may occur due to other contingencies such as natural disasters, transportation failures, unwanted price surges, and geopolitical instability.
The good news is that all of the aforementioned issues can be effectively overcome by optimizing your semiconductor sourcing strategy.
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Semiconductor Supply Chain Options
Listed below are three different levels of component sourcing. It is important to consider each option when optimizing your sourcing strategy:
1. Full consignment
You take full responsibility for sourcing, procuring, and providing semiconductors to the CM.
Advantages: You have complete control of supply chain planning. There are no extra expenses for de-risking responsibilities.
Challenges: You need a team of in-house engineers who can effectively shift their focus between production and supply chain management. It is difficult to gain better visibility into the market availability of constraint components.
Unless you have a wider base of vetted suppliers for sourcing, supply chain challenges will not subside. In this regard, de-risking your component sourcing through the following two options is highly recommended.
2. Partial Turnkey
The CM takes full responsibility for inventories that would include critical and/or special components.
Advantages: You can leverage the CM's wider base of vetted suppliers and deep market visibility to procure components at a reduced cost.
Challenges: CMs may charge an additional cost for exotic supplies from time to time. Moreover, the CM should have a wide network of reliable suppliers along with some dedicated internal supply chain resources to meet your demands.
3. Full Turnkey
The CM takes full responsibility for material sourcing, procurement, and inventory management.
Advantages: You have more time to focus on design and process engineering without worrying about material lead times, fluctuating supplier inventories, unwanted price surges, and material quality analysis.
Challenges: Outsourcing the entire risk to your CM would cost more than the other two options. A well-trenched CM with reliable sources, proven expertise, and the ability to quickly adapt to any unforeseen supply chain issue is required here.
At Tempo Automation, supply chain plans begin at the proto/NPI stage. We operate a smart factory in Silicon Valley for PCB assembly and manage data supply chains via a proprietary digital thread throughout the entire board development process. Our dedicated QC-based turnkey supply chain management coupled with smart inventory control can help you avoid production derails due to semiconductor supply chain challenges.
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.
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