Is your PCB supplier ready to take you into the future? Sure, they are doing a good job today, but what about tomorrow? What will happen when new designs require boards to be made with thermal or RF materials, or have lines widths down to two mils?
Your R&D department is already working on products for the future. These projects will require your PCB suppliers to provide you with innovative technologies. They will have to keep up with your needs when the time comes. It is not a good time to find out that your PCB vendor base cannot support your new products at the moment when you are ready to launch them, and it’s no time to look for new PCB suppliers when you are in a time-to-market crunch!
To avoid this kind of technology gap due to supplier shortcomings, here are 12 checkpoints to make sure your PCB suppliers are ready to meet your future needs:
- Are they financially sound? Suppliers should have enough funds to keep up with the latest equipment and technology.
- Do they have the right attitude to invest in their future? Suppliers should have foresight and an understanding of what they need to do to remain cutting edge.
- Do they have the right people and are they easy to work with? Equipment alone does not keep a company’s technology sound. Suppliers should be well informed about new innovations occurring in the industry.
- Does the supplier listen to your needs?
- Does the supplier have the right qualifications, registrations, and certifications?
- Is the supplier willing to invest their time, energy, and talent to support you?
- Besides buying equipment, is the supplier keeping up with the latest software offerings, including CRM and process control and quality software systems?
- Are they willing to be your R&D partners? Suppliers should be ready to learn, experiment, and take the time to develop the right processes to build the PCBs you need.
- Do you share the same vision? Suppliers should move in a direction that enables them to handle your future PCB needs.
- Can you trust the supplier to not show your newly designed PCBs to others? All the NDAs in the world will not help you if your supplier does not respect your confidentiality.
- Is the supplier willing to share their expenses and resources on an R&D project with you? Or are they too busy working on their everyday PCB requirements to invest in yours?
- Do they know more than you do about PCBs? You need suppliers to be knowledgeable consultants, leaders, and experts that will handle all of your needs for years to come.
Overall, your supplier should be able to fulfill your PCB needs today and in the future. They should build your current PCB requirements and make time to work with you to develop the right processes for your future.
Anaya Vardya is the president and CEO of American Standard Circuits.