18 Tips to Choosing Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner

What steps do you follow when choosing your electronic contract manufacturing partner or company? There has to be a careful scrutiny before you give out your project to any contract manufacturer. He has to be competent, reliable, and flexible.

In this article, we shall discuss some actionable tips on how best you can choose a CM. Also, we shall discuss the roles of these contract manufacturers.

Who is an Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner?

To begin with, let us discuss who an electronic contract manufacturing partner is, his roles, and why you need one.

An electronic contract manufacturing partner is someone who carries out engineering and electrical services. This person could be an individual or staff representing a manufacturing company. Sometimes, a firm could be your electronic contract manufacturing partner. However, the firm or staff oversees your design from CAD to PCB.

There are processes the manufacturing partner follows in respect to your CAD drawing becoming a ready to use PCB. It goes from processing to automation during manufacturing.

The electronic contract manufacturing partner ensures that your design is quality. He fabricates the design and also assembles it so as to become useful. Also, the partner works with a team who can identify problems during manufacturing. He helps provide adequate solutions and innovative ideas that can help your circuit board designs receive quality reviews. Furthermore, he supervises the overall PCB production so as to save cost yet adds value to each design.

An electronic contract manufacturing partner or staff fabricates PCB design procedures. Meanwhile, he is in charge of the development process and coating. He displays his expertise and capabilities during testing and purchasing equipment. He must ensure that the right tools are in use for all designs. Also, he makes sure the products are marketable through quality service. He must understand design review as well as testing and engineering tasks. His PCB design, fabrication, and automation must be top-notch.

At the same time, the electronic contract manufacturing partner must manage every aspect of box builds. Therefore, he ensures that he inspects the automation and engineering process of the PCB. He must be able to upgrade and modify the circuit board.

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What are the Basic Roles of an Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner?

pcb contract manufacturing

You need to understand the roles of your electronic contract manufacturing partner before hiring one. If you intend building up a circuit board, you need someone to oversee the production and procurement.

Managerial Position

The electronic contract manufacturing partner is a manager. Concurrently, he supervises and manages everything ranging from CAD drawing to PCB design.

Engineering Schedule and Testing Responsibility

He is an engineer who must be responsible for the testing service. Furthermore, throughout manufacturing, he ensures that the circuit board goes through mechanical testing. As an engineer, he determines the manual procedure for the production. Also, he decides on the testing requirements, and electrical design of the PCB.

Fabrication Abilities

You hire an electronic contract manufacturing partner who can match fabrication with design. The fabrication must go in tune with design during the manufacturing process. He must be able to create a variety of new designs with different features.

He should be able to draw out a simple layer circuit board. Also, his vast experience in complex PCB is key in production. Therefore, it needs several PCB fabrication techniques. He must be able to analyze every design during production. He must know about in-circuit testing and soldering as well as AOI.

Budget Management

Although an engineer, he must be able to work within the budget. This means that your electronic contract manufacturing partner must have the knowledge of finance and budget management.

What are the Tips in Choosing Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner?

You need to know about the requirements for a responsible electronic contract manufacturing partner or staff. Be it a company or an individual, you need to look out for certain attributes.

Innovation

This is very crucial when choosing an electronic contract manufacturing company. Infact, without innovative ideas, no PCB design can resonate with customers. An innovative electronic contract manufacturing partner helps you assemble your product in a way that it becomes successful and marketable. The end result is to sell your product.

Furthermore, your partner’s innovative skills would help from design to fabrication. Also, this helps in creating modern designs. Your circuit board is uniquely different from others through creative thinking of your electronic contract manufacturing partner. With the new design, the manufacturing partner concerns himself with supply-chain procedure. Innovation is very important in design and marketing.

Location

When hiring your electronic contract manufacturing staff, you need to consider his location. You have to evaluate the company before hiring. So, visiting the manufacturing company isn’t a bad idea. Your location determines whom you hire. Besides, visiting your prospective partner makes the work easier. It is advisable you meet one-on-one. The location will help to build a firm relationship with your electronic contract manufacturing partner.

Similarly, visiting the staff helps you become familiar with the process of production. There are production challenges, and you can discuss possible solutions if you engage in an elaborate conversation with your manufacturing staff.

Engineering Expertise

Consequently, you need to employ an electronic contract manufacturing staff who has experience in PCB design. It is not only about the design, further, she needs to know about detailing during manufacturing. An inexperienced manufacturing company will not bring about productivity in your work.

When you meet your prospective electronic contract manufacturing partner, probe him. Ask questions about his previous productions. Hence, this helps to know what he can do. Still, you can demand to see his previous jobs. He should get your product the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) reviews it needs. In addition, this is where you need his expertise.

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Sourcing

This is a tip you need when hiring your electronic contract manufacturing company. How well the company can source durable electrical components and PCB layout is important.Then, your electronic contract manufacturing partner should know responsible component suppliers. Likewise, they should be able to forecast future challenges during sourcing and planning.

A vast partner knows his job. He knows how to source the right equipment and team players. He knows how to test every component during sourcing. Have a thorough conversation with the company during the sourcing stage. As well, meet their components suppliers. Study how the planning and sourcing go.

Confidentiality

It is crucial to have an agreement with the electronic contract manufacturing partner before kick starting your project. Wherefore, this will provide a legal backing to your contract with him. The agreement has to be a non-disclosure one. Asking for your partner’s intellectual property won’t be a bad idea. Thus, this helps to vent their previous jobs and how responsible they are.

The agreement has to do with both parties. Again,  confidentiality binds both parties to be discrete with their dealings. It is private and nobody discloses “secret” information to a third party. Ensure your contract manufacturer signs an agreement before he begins working for you.

Communication Method

What is the communication style of your electronic contract manufacturing staff? Accordingly, every manufacturing staff has their method of passing out information. The communication method also affects the documentation method. Thus, ask to see their previous documentation styles. The communication style also affects how they design and automate or assemble each circuit board.

Likewise, see to it that you discuss the documentation and communication styles you want. If you aren’t so comfortable with how they do theirs, then, you can both agree on a new style for documentation. Their communication method should be in line with yours. Moreover, it makes the work easier for both parties.

Certifications and Qualifications

It is paramount that you hire an electronic contract manufacturing company or staff with the right certifications. Moreover, their certifications show how well they can handle your project. Hence, certifications in risk management are vital. Likewise, this helps to vent them before signing an agreement to work together.

Again, their regulatory compliance is very important, too. Therefore, a thorough evaluation is what you must do on their management system, as well as risk management. However, probe them more about their industry-related qualifications and certification. Thus, you can review one with FDA and other certifications. This shows their expertise, too.

Stability

For any electronic contract manufacturing company, you need to assess how stable it is. Besides, you would not associate with any unstable contract partner. Plus, you need to verify how long the company is operating. So, you don’t have to regret hiring an incompetent company.

Then, you need to visit the company’s website. Read thoroughly about their past jobs. Also, read reviews about them. Stability has to do with financial capacity as well. You need to avoid any company that goes bankrupt. Further, ask others who once worked with them about their work history. Plus, reviews from customers are crucial.

Personnel

This is a tip that you must never ignore. Before outsourcing your project to any electronic contract manufacturing company, you should consider their personnel. Does the company have the right personnel to partner with you? Moreover, you need the right personnel that will work from the design, assembly, and marketing stages.

Primarily, a successful PCB project depends on the right team. Hence, you need to have a guarantee that your contract manufacturing partner is ready to work with you. Plus, your interest is their interest. However, you both have to agree on what standards to work on. Moreover, the right team saves cost and stress.

Training

Many entrepreneurs ignore this. For you to hire an electronic contract manufacturing partner, you need to show interest in their training. Accordingly, the team shouldn’t stop getting more training yearly. Asides certifications and experience, the electronic contract manufacturing staff must attend training from professional bodies.

PCB fabrication techniques always change every year. There are modern designs, so, your contract manufacturer must often attend training to become more vast, calculable, and experienced. Regardless of previous work history, training is key. Moreover, this training has a great impact on how creative the personnel would be. Hire only personnel who receive training regularly.

Technology

The resources of the electronic contract manufacturing partner is very important. Hence, you need to ask questions about their available resources. Similarly, these resources are in line with technological innovations and equipment. It is advisable you hire a contract manufacturer whose tools are modern. At least, they should be accessible to modern day tools.

Their technological equipment should be better than yours. So, this would enable them to advise you on how to improve the marketability of your product. Hence, technological equipment is the roadmap to successful assembly of your circuit board. Also, these resources can make your products uniquely different from other available ones.

Market Trends

A good electronic contract manufacturing company would be a guide for you. There are market trends that allow entrepreneurs to make more money. Apart from having technical support, the market trend is also important. You may have a quality product, still, people may not buy your product.

This is why profiling is important. It is a highly competitive market. Therefore, your electronic contract manufacturing partner has to know trendy techniques that could sell your product. Also, you can create a nice market trend which would become a trademark. It simply goes beyond just creating designs. Therefore, study market structure. Create a trademark and smartly follow market trends.

OEM or ODM

Before hiring any electronic contract manufacturing partner, you should determine the kind of partnership you want. Oftentimes, many entrepreneurs ignore this. However, you should never make this mistake. One partnership type you may choose is the Original Equipment Manufacturers, also known as OEMs. Another type is Original Design Manufacturers, known as ODMs.

You need to know the kind of service your partner offers. Sometimes, some manufacturers specialize in just one type. Additionally, some partners offer both OEMs and ODMs. These services include design, manufacturing, branding, and packaging as well as distribution of your product. The choice also depends on the aspect you want your partner to handle.

Research

How well do you research your partners before choosing to work with them? Hiring a competent electronic contract manufacturing partner may be so challenging. This is because there are many reputable manufactures out there. However, this doesn’t stop you from finding out every detail about each of them.

Then, you should not assume you know it all about a partner based on past achievement. Some contract manufacturers only rest on their oars. Find out about their current state, technology, financial stability, productivity, design and how bankable they are. Your manufacturer should have the interest of the customers at heart. Still, making profit is a priority.

Quality

The quality of products your electronic contract manufacturing partner can make matters a lot. So, you should consider quality production while you outsource contract manufacturers. Furthermore, experience, procurement, testing service, box builds, and mechanical design are factors that contribute greatly to quality product. The kind of tools your contract manufacturer has also matters. Therefore, do all within your capacity to employ credible electronic contract manufacturing partners.

Hence, you have to do everything possible to produce a quality product. One thing that totally makes it impossible is hiring quacks. You don’t want to jeopardize your efforts into producing quality products. Practices, standards, and excellence affect quality, too.

Flexibility

A contract manufacturer doesn’t have to be rigid when it comes to production, though there are structures to follow during the manufacturing process. However, something may go wrong due to the unpredictability of such an incident. How flexible is your partner when it comes to design techniques? Does he have to stop production when some plans don’t work out?

When production designs take a different turn, a responsible manufacturer has to be flexible. This shows his skills to be innovative and dependable. Still, the design can come out better if he has an eye for creativity. Infact, he would consult you giving possible solutions to the problem.

Budget and Cost

One major tip to consider when choosing an electronic manufacturer is the budget. Inasmuch you want quality production, you should pay your partner as well. We earlier mentioned OEMs and ODMs. The type of service you want depends on the cost of production. So, consider your budget.

Accordingly, the price of supplies affects production. The electrical components of each design are costly. Wherefore, you need to receive quotations from different manufacturers to know what type of service you need. Still, you need to consider all production factors including personnel, also with capital. The prices of ODMs are different from OEMs. So, don’t expect the same quotations for both services.

Create a Work Structure

You need to create a work structure that will guide the production design. Meanwhile, the best way to do this is to create documentation. We also discussed documentation style earlier. Therefore, you have a lot of questions to ask. In the framework of work, you define everybody’s role there.

What requirements do you need for testing? What are the obsolescence risks? Do you have contingency plans? However, you must have backup plans. What is the supply chain? What is the duration of the production design and assembly? You need to have a workable relationship with the contract manufacturer to achieve quality production.

 

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How Do You Choose A Reputable Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner?

It is important you know how to choose your contract manufacturer. Besides, this is a skill you need. Additionally, working with the right team makes work easier.

Advertisement and Referral

There are many contract manufacturers however, choosing a reputable one may require referral. When you get a direct link that could help you with a reliable CM, you would not have to fall into the wrong contract manufacturing partner.

Also, there are advertisement placements online for CMs. You could advertise or go for referrals. When going through adverts, ensure the contract manufacturer has links to his website. Thus, this will enable you to have access to his works. Also, it provides an avenue to assess such works properly.

Evaluation and Testimonials

This is very important for you. To employ a prospective CM, the evaluation exercise is what many go for. Similarly, it is like a track record. How to make it easier and safer for you is to evaluate reviews from customers. You need to ask some open-ended questions. You should consider the professional body the CM belongs to.

Transparency

How open is your CM? Any reputable CM will be transparent to you. How do you know if he is open to you? This is from answers he provides to your questions. In addition, it depends on the tune of communication. Sometimes, you may have answers to certain questions about him yet you ask these same questions to get his reply.

So, it is advisable you speak with her over the phone. When you have a chat with your CM, you can know if he is transparent or not. Once there is satisfaction with the attitude of your CM, then you can assign some production tasks to him.

Customer Base

How you can know a reliable CM is through the customer base. Apart from referrals from others, the customer base is high. He keeps his customers because of his interpersonal communication skills. Therefore, you should be on the lookout for the track record of his customers.

A reputable electronic contract manufacturing partner treats  all customers the same way. There is no preferential treatment. If you have large or small scale production design, he still does the work with much enthusiasm. This is because such a CM understands that in business, every client is important.

On Time Delivery

A reputable electronic contract manufacturing partner would always deliver all projects at the stipulated time. Some CMs are fond of delaying their customer’s design. From the fabrication to assembly and distribution, how well he can deliver the job is worth every consideration.

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When Should You Hire an Electronic Contract Manufacturing Partner?

Choosing an electronic contract manufacturing staff is in relation to the right time. You should choose a CM after he or she proves that he is capable of handling your production.

Profiling his character and previous works come simultaneously. In addition, you should hire a contract manufacturer from the inception of your production.

Don’t begin looking for a CM when your manufacturing process no longer works. Let him know about your design ideas and budget. He’s an engineer who can supervise every aspect of the production process.

Conclusion

We gave some tips above on how to choose the right electronic contract manufacturing partner or company. However, we believe that these tips are helpful. Every fabrication and CAD drawing has its uniqueness. Yearly, there are new designs; that is why you need a CM who can identify and deliver quality products for you.