The 5 Most Important PCBA Manufacturing Capabilities

June 23, 2020 , in Blog

In a perfect world, executives and managers would have infinite budgets at their disposal, enabling them to adequately fund all operations. In this utopia, all activities could be given equal weight or importance, and support could be distributed as requested, irrespective of any ROI-related considerations. Unfortunately, that view through rose-colored glasses is not the reality for most budgeting situations. Instead, it is most often required that a list of priorities be established where the order, and consequently the level of funding, is determined by factors that define importance, such as ROI.

Prioritizing a set of essential attributes is especially important when choosing fabrication and assembly services or a contract manufacturer (CM) for your PCBA development. Even with the best designs from your engineers, your boards can fall prey to common failure modes. This is especially true if proper consideration is not given to those who will build your boards and the principles, standards, and processes they utilize to do so. Let’s take a look at the most important PCBA manufacturing capabilities that should inform your selection of a CM and result in the best build boards.

Putting things in the proper order

Creating a list of priorities

The 5 Essential PCBA Manufacturing Capabilities

Another difference between utopia and the real world that we live in is that Murphy’s Law (which roughly states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”) may manifest itself at any time in reality. But even when things go wrong, it is desirable that your PCBA development process continues to produce high-quality, reliable boards. This goal is not only attainable but can be virtually assured if your CM possesses the following PCBA manufacturing capabilities.

The Essential PCBA Manufacturing Capabilities Your CM Should Have

  • PCBA Manufacturing Capability #1: Certified Quality Control

The first requirement your CM should meet is a commitment to quality. This can be demonstrated by unbiased evaluations or certifications that your CM’s manufacturing stages meet industry standards, such as ISO 9001, IPC-A-610, J-STD-01, ANSI 2020:2014, AS9100D, and ISO 13485

  • PCBA Manufacturing Capability #2: Agile Manufacturing

Almost as important as having a process that adheres to the highest quality standards is flexibility or the ability to quickly institute changes without sacrificing quality and the need for additional equipment or expertise. This type of agile manufacturing is changing the PCBA manufacturing landscape and is already essential for the critical industries of aerospace, automotive, and medical devices.  

  • PCBA Manufacturing Capability #3: Open and Transparent Communication

For decades, circuit board designers and CMs languished in isolation, each with limited understanding of the other’s intent or technical requirements. Fortunately, a white-box approach that seeks to create a symbiotic relationship between the designer and CM is taking hold. The benefits of open and transparent communication are the optimal use of DFM guidelines, less risk of unusable boards, and a low possibility of failures in the field. 

  • PCBA Manufacturing Capability #4: Clear and Easily Accessible DFM

This capability works hand-in-hand with #3 above. In order for your PCBA development to realize the benefits of DFM, the rules and guidelines must be incorporated into your design software in order for effective DFM checks to be performed.

  • PCBA Manufacturing Capability #5: Secure, Reliable Supply Chain

It is also imperative that your CM provides a secure and reliable supply chain from the inputs, components, and design data file(s), to the outputs, fabricated and assembled PCBAs. This includes avoiding counterfeits, applying appropriate protection methods, and being resilient in the face of unexpected and uncontrollable events.

Do Your CM’s Manufacturing Capabilities Measure Up?

This is the question that must be soberly asked and candidly answered, if PCBA development optimization is the objective. As an aid, the potential risks of working with a CM that does not possess these capabilities are listed below.

Lacking Capability Potential Risks
Certified QC Low-quality boards, unacceptable yield rates
Agile Manufacturing Extended turnaround times, increased costs, lower quality boards or missed delivery deadlines
Transparent Communication Inaccurate quotes, layout adjustments for fabrication, redesign, extended turnaround times
DFM Accessibility Extended design time, incorrect rule prioritization, increased design-build-test (DBT) cycles
Secure Supply Chain Counterfeit or low-quality components, premature board failures

The risks listed above are significant, but not exhaustive. Failing to ensure that your CM’s PCBA manufacturing capabilities do not measure up to those listed can result in a wide range of problems and failures that may cost you time, money, and clients.

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 is the leading turnkey PCBA manufacturer in the industry and the essentials listed are inherent to our software-based process. Beyond these, we provide you with a photorealistic image of your built board for inspection prior to fabrication and access to real-time board development status once the process is underway. We also employ digital thread interconnectivity, which enables us to monitor and control the entire process in real-time.

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 PCBA manufacturing capabilities and which are essential for the best board builds, contact us.

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