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Last month, we discussed the importance of the PCB industry’s need to focus on a “made in USA” philosophy. Of course, there are setbacks to adopting this philosophy. But how do we alleviate those setbacks and maximize the positives? This month, we will go over how to methodically do this. This is not—by any means—a cookie-cutter solution. Every manufacturer is different and has different logistical challenges and must adapt to succeed.
In today’s landscape, everybody is on a mission to set themselves apart. Regardless of whether the environment is personal or professional, we all want to show how we are different. In the printed circuit board industry—a relatively uniform industry—the best way to do that is to do something that very few other board houses are doing: total concept. Total concept is when a board manufacturer has the ability and resources to not only manufacture but also design and assemble the boards under one roof and most importantly, the courage to execute the model. Admittedly, this involves a significant investment if the infrastructure does not already exist within a given company. This includes—but is not limited to—personnel, equipment and of course, finances. However, to implement it successfully would increase longevity and diversify a company—propelling them to unprecedented success. Here are five advantages of the Total Concept model:
This is, perhaps, the single most significant aspect about TC; it keeps costs down for the customer. Instead of design, manufacturing and assembly (and possibly, box builds) being done at three different locations, they are all done at one place thereby eliminating many extraneous and unnecessary processing expenses.
When a board house can handle all aspects of the product, it alleviates almost all of the logistical roadblocks that would arise if the same processes were taking place in multiple locations. The customer only has to call, e-mail or otherwise contact ONE location for any questions or concerns. If the customer needs to track his job’s progress, it enables them to do so in a streamlined manner. This also contributes positively to shipping costs. When the person who designed your board and the person assembling it work in the exact same building that the board is fabricated, you can rest a bit more assured that things will not be misconstrued in communication between the people who are working for you.
When the customer is dealing with one company to achieve their goals from design to assembly, it helps that their vision can be accurately conveyed to one person and not get lost in translation between many mouths and ears. This approach offers a number of advantages. First and foremost, making revisions using this format is very simple. The manufacturer already has everything on file; therefore, they are able to quickly make any alterations and reproduce the new and improved board. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, it goes wrong in one place. The customer is not burdened with having to reach out to numerous companies to coordinate the diagnosing and solving of the issue. All they have to do is reach out one company in one location to address the problem.
Any successful industry is more or less a copycat business. TC is a model that has been proven to work and yet, implemented by very few. To successfully execute this model on a large scale would mean to show your competitors that it works thereby incentivizing them to do the same. As a result, this competition ultimately helps the customer.
It goes almost without saying that when properly utilizing the TC model, the speed with which a job gets accomplished is exponentially faster. In stark contrast to the outdated model of getting receiving bare boards from one company and then sending them out to another to get assembled, your assembly department is feet—not miles—away from where the boards were fabricated.
TC is not about doing one thing very well—this is something that most board manufacturers already do. It is about doing everything extremely well. The commitment required to adopt this model and stick to it is apparent but the need to do so is even more.
Sam Sangani is president and CEO of PNC Inc., a full-service PCB manufacturer located in Nutley, New Jersey.