'Can Do' in CAM Outsourcing: A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

Reading time ( words)

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of columns on CAM outsourcing.

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.

As volume production in PCBs has shifted significantly to Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America have been focusing on high technology, quick-turn, prototype, and lower volume production. As a result, most are producing a much larger number of parts, placing a very high burden on their front-end processes. The need for more capacity in technical sales, responses to higher volume of requests for quotes, and CAM operators who must cope with large part numbers is very real. Many companies struggle to hire and keep the talent required to keep up with demand. This is exactly where outsourcing of CAM and related front-end work can actually help a struggling manufacturer not only stay in business, but thrive.

There are six critical ways in which a company can significantly benefit from outsourcing. These are:

  • Increased on-demand capacity
  • Improved automation
  • Fast turn-around
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved quality
  • Ability to build redundancy in critical areas

I will delve deeper into each of these six areas of benefits, which are real and have been realized by many European and U.S. PCB manufacturers that have embraced outsourcing as a critical competitive advantage. 

Let’s take a look at the first benefit one can achieve with front-end outsourcing.

On-Demand Capacity

Fluctuation in front-end engineering varies significantly in the PCB industry. The ability to off-load surges, help manage off-shift workload and over-time work can be a godsend for many companies that are trying to manage with a minimal full-time engineering staff. This is where CAM outsourcing is an ideal solution. You can simply send jobs at the end of your afternoon shift and have your off-site team working on them while you sleep. The jobs can be ready and waiting for you when you come in the next morning, ready to put to the shop floor.

Companies are reluctant to add permanent headcount to manage surges and off-shift capacity. Finding and keeping productive engineering talent on second and third shifts is close to impossible. This is where the time-shift of your off-site outsourcing team is a real benefit. Your second and third shifts are their primary shift. Some of the best talent can be deployed at off hours giving you not only the ability to off-load work, but also get access to highly skilled engineers.

Many companies that have successfully deployed off-site team members have been able to free up their internal engineering resources to work on more value-added activities. They can join the sales team and become highly effective technical sales people. Today’s higher technology demands a closer working relationship with your customers—especially in the early stages of an engagement. Highly qualified front-end engineers can be invaluable in helping bridge that gap while the heavy lifting of dealing with the orders once they come in can be managed by the off-site team.

In summary, the ability to manage on-demand capacity through outsourcing can bring many benefits:

  • Ability to keep up with surges, off-shift, and overtime work
  • Decreased need to add permanent headcount to manage workload surges
  • Opportunities to take advantage of the time-shift of your off-site outsourced team
  • Critical engineering resources are freed up to help generate more sales and interact with customers on technical sales
  • Business can grow with scalable front-end engineering resources to fulfill your changing requirements.


Mehul J. Davé is CEO of Entelechy Global Inc.



Suggested Items

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

03/05/2021 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
A perennial and yet irregular category on the popular game show Jeopardy is “potpourri.” My dad, as I was growing up, pronounced the word as “pot-poury.” It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that my girlfriend’s mom—who had a penchant for a soupcon of French euphemism in her tête-à-têtes—pronounced the word properly: “po-pu-ree.” Such are the risks of growing up just a bit rural.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

01/29/2021 | Andy Shaughnessy, I-Connect007
This week, we have a variety of news and articles to share, and it’s all positive. We have a new president, and he’s pledging to help American businesses. December PCB sales were up 4.5% over the same period a year ago. Atotech is just about ready to launch an IPO. Sunstone has tweaked its free CAD tool, PCB123, to make it even easier for designers to receive their Gerber files. And columnist John Watson breaks down what we all learned during the chaos that was 2020.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

11/27/2020 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Well, it’s the last Friday in November. On any normal year in the U.S., this would be “Black Friday” because, for many retailers, the kickoff to the holiday season’s shopping spree is the source for most of the operating income for the year. While it remains to be seen how exactly how much traditional in-store and online retailing will rake in, with the varied pandemic lockdowns, it’s clear that readers wanted to get the latest electronics industry sales numbers!

Copyright © 2021 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.