Establishing a transparent relationship with your CM for PCB fabrication and assembly

The Benefits of Onshore PCB Fabrication and Assembly

Although the earth’s surface area is nearly 200 million square miles (≅ 322 square km), in some ways, the world is small. Today, we routinely communicate with others across the globe in real-time through satellites and the internet. Therefore, many activities once performed locally can now be accomplished remotely. A primary example of this is the ever-increasing utilization of telework by many organizations, resulting in lower O & M costs and, in many cases, higher productivity. Yet, sometimes it is either essential or more advantageous to be located nearby.

Similarly, your circuit boards can be manufactured in many countries today, and this global pool of PCB fabrication and assembly service providers has its advantages. There are, however, drawbacks to offshoring manufacturing that can have a significant negative impact on the efficiency, quality and costs of your PCBA development. As the building of your boards is a critical stage that directly controls these development process attributes, it is incumbent upon you to not only select the best CM but to forge a symbiotic relationship with your provider. And this is more readily achievable when you opt for an onshore PCB fabrication and assembly service.

The Developer-CM Relationship

As many OEMs will agree, getting your boards built can at times be a process fraught with long quote delays, substandard quality boards and a lack of cost-effectiveness. More often than not, these issues can result from the relationship you have with your CM.

How Well Do You Really Need To Know Your CM?

There was a time when building PCBAs was typically an outsourced development stage where the developer knew little about the manufacturing process. Likewise, the manufacturer knew almost nothing about the developer’s design intent. Even now, isolation between design and manufacturing can lead to significant manufacturing problems.

Potential PCBA Manufacturing Problems

  • Communication lapses
  • Excessive design changes
  • Inability to rapidly institute changes
  • Long turnaround times
  • Insufficient quality 
  • Increased costs

Many of the problems listed above are potentially compounded by your CM’s location. For example, communicating in real-time with an offshore provider in a dramatically different time zone can be difficult. This can also complicate instituting an agile manufacturing process, which can lead to turnaround delays and increased costs. For complex boards or PCBAs with strict quality standards—like those for critical industries such as aerospace, automotive systems and medical devices—accessibility and transparency (a white-box approach to manufacturing) is necessary for optimized development. Your CM’s location may determine if your relationship could run into manufacturing problems.

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Offshore vs. Onshore PCB Fabrication and Assembly Services

There is no shortage of circuit board fabrication houses or PCB assembly factories. However, the first step toward optimal PCB fabrication and assembly is to opt for an advanced turnkey service provider. Not only does this provide you with a single point of contact (POC), but it vastly improves accessibility and communication. According to a survey of PCB developers, highly important attributes of the developer-CM relationship can be difficult to establish with an offshore provider, as shown below.

Offshore Service Attributes Onshore Service
Harder Real-time Collaboration Easier
Slower Design Change Response Faster
More Regulatory Requirements Less
Low Transparency of Operations High
Slower Speed of Delivery Faster

Regulatory requirements are another important consideration presented in the table. When working across borders, you may be required to navigate multiple compliance schemes or satisfy additional standard criteria. Additionally, if you rely on an offshore provider to procure components, you may bear the responsibility—instead of your onshore CM—of ensuring supply chain requirements are satisfied if your boards are intended for highly regulated industries such as medical devices and aerospace.As shown in the table above, working with an onshore PCB fabrication and assembly provider can be help strengthen your developer-CM relationship, which is the driver of efficiency, quality and cost-effectiveness for the board building stage of development.

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.

The manufacturing, or PCB fabrication and assembly, stage is critical to your PCBA development. And the process is defined by the relationship you have with your CM. At Tempo Automation, we place the highest priority on establishing relationships as opposed to simply building your boards.

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 how to optimize your PCB fabrication and assembly service, contact us.

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