Supply Chain Resilience in Electronic Manufacturing

Disruptions in the supply chain are always a concern for PCB designers and electronic contract manufacturers. High demand for electronic components, decreased production due to external events, and poor part forecasting all contribute to these issues. If the components are not readily available, products may need to be redesigned, timelines can be delayed, and the risk of counterfeit components is increased. A quality electronic contract manufacturer will have strategies in place to mitigate disruptions and ensure a consistent flow of electronic components. When you are looking for an ECM, it is important to find one who has a strong supply chain management process already in place.

blue printed circuit board with gold plating

The Components of Supply Chain Management

There are three main components of supply chain management: how the parts are sourced, how the parts are transported, and how the parts are stored. When you are evaluating an electronic contract manufacturer for supply chain resilience, these are the things to look for.

  • Source: all components should be sourced from vetted suppliers. The supply chain management team needs to understand the fluctuation and availability of various components, and use that understanding to predict and anticipate the needs to ensure that components will be available for use.
  • Transport: components should be tracked and monitored throughout the process to ensure that transportation is managed effectively and components are high-quality and authentic. Logistics and proper transport methods should be clear.
  • Storage: The specifications of each component will need to be considered for warehousing, ensuring that all parts are stored safely and efficiently for their needs. If a component is not stored correctly, it may be damaged to the point where it cannot be used.

Current Challenges in Supply Chain

High demand, reduced production, and component obsolescence are all concerns for electronic contract manufacturers. The availability of certain components can change quickly, making supply chain management a challenge. Shortages and long lead times for critical components can impact the ability of your ECM to manufacture in the current design, causing delays and maybe even the need for a redesign. A skilled ECM will monitor the current supply chain challenges and stay connected with vetted suppliers to prepare for potential shortages.

Electronic parts shortage - CTA

Developing Supply Chain Resilience

An experienced electronic contract manufacturer will have a strong supply chain management system in place, with practices to help mitigate shortages. Planning for obsolescence is important, as there is often a time when the component manufacturer will offer last time buys. This allows ECMs the time to manage their inventory, order the components they anticipate they will need, and begin to transition to a new design. Planning ahead is crucial, as predicting future demands can help ECMs have the correct components ready. When choosing an ECM for PCB manufacturing, it is important to understand their supply chain management practices to ensure they are prepared for your project.

Supply Chain Management Can Help Mitigate the Issue of Counterfeit Parts

Counterfeit parts are a real concern when supply chain issues are present. Many counterfeit parts can be convincing. They will look authentic, appear to function appropriately, and can even pass some testing. But counterfeit components come with a host of issues. Poor quality counterfeit parts can increase the risk of product failure, injury, decreased reliability, and even penalties for non-compliance in regulated industries. It can be difficult to determine if a part is counterfeit from a basic inspection, and often, a counterfeit component will not be discovered until the product has already failed. An electronic contract manufacturer with a strong supply chain management practice will have the processes in place to avoid counterfeit components. A quality ECM will have a trusted network of vetted suppliers, which significantly reduces the risk of counterfeit components. These suppliers will be periodically reevaluated, especially after any changes in ownership or management practices. When components do need to be sourced through other suppliers, these ECMs will implement independent testing that can help identify counterfeit components.

Reverse Engineering Can Assist in Navigating Supply Chain Challenges

While having strong supply chain management can help to avoid disruptions due to component shortages, there are situations when working through supply chain disruptions by reverse engineering legacy products is the better solution than attempting to create a new design. Rather than designing a new product from scratch, the engineers in a domestic, turnkey electronic manufacturing shop can learn about the product by “unbuilding”, then putting it back together with components that are available, typically with improved design and function. Reverse engineering and redesigning a legacy product is easier and more cost effective than attempting to source components during a shortage, particularly with PCBs. In most cases, the legacy product that has been through this process will improve with the advancement of parts and technology. Having an ECM with an in-house team of engineers is critical to the success of reverse engineering.

Supply chain concerns are never-ending for PCB manufacturing, but by working with a domestic, turnkey electronic contract manufacturer with a strong supply chain management process, these concerns can be mitigated. Having a dedicated and experienced on-site team of engineers will ensure that your products can be manufactured with available components and within industry standards and regulations. For the best supply chain resilience during a time of component shortages, look for a domestic electronic contract manufacturer with a team of on site engineers ready to meet supply chain issues head on. When you partner with Levison Enterprises, we become an extension of your team. With decades of ECM experience, and a trusted, vetted supply chain, we can help you build a better product. Contact us today for a quote.

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