How a complete manufacturing services provider supports its customers’ growth opportunities
In this latest informative article, member company and market leader in electronic manufacturing CB Technology Ltd provide an insight into how a complete manufacturing services provider can support customers’ growth opportunities.
Building printed circuit boards is the bread-and-butter of the Electronics Manufacturing Services industry and, in Scotland, many providers are extremely competent in this fundamental element. However, while there may be little to differentiate competing EMS companies, a complete Manufacturing Services provider can add value to a manufacturing partnership in a way that directly supports its customers’ growth ambitions.
From assisting with the early concept design and developing the electronic components integral to its functionality, to building the high level assembly product and supporting the customer’s needs throughout the entire process, complete manufacturing services providers improve manufacturability, reduce cost and shorten time-to-market.
- Experts in high level assembly
During an engineering workshop at the outset of the manufacturing partnership, engineers will support the customer, analyse the design, reverse engineer the build process, flag potential issues and advise ways in which the development and manufacture of the part or product can be made more economical. Approaching the task with a lean philosophy – that is, cutting down on the number of types of parts used, opting for more readily available materials and eliminating unnecessary manufacturing processes – increases efficiency, cuts cost and mitigates risk.
- Involving the supply base
Involving supply chain partners in the evaluation of the product design is a key aspect of value-added services. This capitalises on the manufacturing services provider’s strong working relationships with its supply base. Inviting critique of the customer’s design from a design-for-manufacturing point of view can flag any number of possible improvements and efficiencies. Could we reduce the amount of plastic used? Is it possible to change the parameters to increase strength or rigidity? Does the tolerance of the assembled parts stack up? This evaluation can eliminate problems commonly encountered at the manufacturing stage, saving money and improving speed-to-market for the customer.
- Designed for manufacturability
A recent design workshop involved a customer developing a heavy duty piece of sensing technology for subsea monitoring. It was identified that the part under scrutiny had four different kinds of screws which were being put directly into plastic meaning that, if torqued incorrectly, there was a risk of stripping the plastic. It was recommended that, by using an insert, it would be possible to get an exact target and thereby reduce the risk of damaging the plastic part.
Though we were working with a complex, high-compliance device, identifying and solving relatively simple issues at this stage would eliminate additional cost and potential hold-ups further down the production line.
Engaging expert engineers, experienced in identifying areas for improvement, is vital for companies that view a successful manufacturing partnership as a valuable part of their growth strategy.
- Repeatable manufacturing processes
Many businesses start by building their products in-house, using their highly skilled, qualified engineers to develop this process. But these employees should be concentrating on their core competencies, making better use of their time in R&D, designing and developing new products; it is not usually cost-effective for them to spend time on the build process.
Consequently, in-house manufacturing is a poor choice for companies looking to scale. Working with a high capability manufacturing services partner will provide a reliable, repeatable build of that product. By rewriting and reconstructing the assembly process for a product, a manufacturer can commit to de-skilling the build to a standard operator level, confident in the knowledge that it can be repeatedly built to the same high quality, over and over again. Utilising manufacturing expertise to make a product build repeatable brings cost efficiencies for the customer as well as the certainty that their products will be identical and will assist in getting them to market faster. Meanwhile, their in-house staff are free to progress their own areas of expertise and support the business’s growth ambitions.
- High compliance, intrinsically safe
Companies producing industrial tools for use in harsh environments and hazardous conditions require a manufacturer that guarantees the reliability of the product. Achieving stringent compliance standards such as ensuring a product is intrinsically safe and meets Atex classification “Atmospheres Explosive”, for example, as required for down-hole tools that operate in high pressure, high vibration conditions, is vital for these companies. Tapping into the capabilities of a manufacturing solutions provider with the expertise to create a product that is ruggedised to withstand extreme environments, hermetically sealed, covered in conformal coating to reduce the risks of arching, and that puts products through extreme temperature burn-in and pressure testing is essential.
High-end, complex productionised testing for electronic parts can also require stringent controls around downloading software, firmware and software licences, and generating unique identification for each product.
- Added flexibility
Over and above standard build and testing processes, customers might require their product to be built to a vanilla level and held by the manufacturer until the customer sends a CTO (configure to order) request. Unlike with a BTO (build to order), CTO sees the manufacturer configure the vanilla product with the requested input and output requirements, load, build, test and ship the order. An exceptional high level assembly business can see this process through from start to finish in 24-48 hours. Variations on the configuration are possible to meet different end uses, giving the customer exceptional flexibility.
By shipping the CTO lot directly to the end buyer, with pretty packing optional, a complete manufacturing services provider reduces the product’s time-to-market considerably, and avoids their customer having to arrange storage and shipping of the product through their own business operations.
- Delivering on growth
It is clear that moving product-build from in-house to an external manufacturing partner brings a number of benefits to design and engineering companies looking to scale.
Identifying a manufacturing services provider with high level capabilities and engaging them at an early stage will enhance design efficiencies, identify problems at the earliest opportunity, reduce risk and streamline the build. This leads directly to a better, more cost effective product, with intrinsic repeatability and reliability of the build process. Additionally, the customer can be confident in the ruggedisation and testing processes necessary for their products, whether they need to be intrinsically safe or finished to a Class A standard.
With the flexibility of CTO and a service that stores and ships products directly to the end user, it is clear that the end-to-end service delivered by a complete manufacturing services provider delivers manufacturability, cost effectiveness and reduced time-to-market, thereby supporting its customers in achieving their business growth ambitions.
CB Technology is Scotland’s largest independent electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company. From its base in Livingston, the company provides a full turnkey solution to a diverse mix of clients across a range of sectors including Energy, Industrial, Medical and Life Sciences, Communications, Instrumentation, Test & Measurement, and Space. CB Technology supports businesses with high complexity manufacturing needs. It is proud of its depth of expertise and extensive technical capability in sensing technology manufacturing and specialises in industrial and condition monitoring, ruggedisation, and extreme testing and burn-in. To find out how CB Technology can support your growth ambitions, contact us today.