Quality Counts . . . The 8 Areas that Matter When Choosing Your Next EMS Provider

As the saying goes “you are only as strong as your weakest link”.  Therefore, the partners you choose to provide Engineering, PCB CAD Layout, Testing, PCB Assembly and Manufacturing could make or break your ability to provide a quality product that is both functional and profitable.

Below are the Top 8 benefits your next EMS provider should bring to the table.

Quality Commitments & Quality Control – Some companies can “talk” about quality while other companies “prove their commitments” through policies, procedures and protocols.  Always ask your potential EMS provider to quantify exactly how they assure quality. The supplier should be able to demonstrate adherence to tight controls on their documentation, and compliance with ISO or other standards.  The supplier should also be able to provide evidence of a compliance history and reputation in the industry.

Supply Chain/Materials – Reputable EMS providers typically have sophisticated supplier relationships.  The suppliers are vetted, tested and documented before they are brought in on any given project.  It is through these relationships that an EMS provider is able to fully communicate turn-times, acquire parts and maintain an inventory, which all contribute to delivering projects on-time and on-budget. When an EMS provider is blindsiding you with delays, lack of communication or failed quality, it often is symptomatic of poor supply chain management and relationships.

Project ManagersProject managers are the liaison between the internal teams and the external customers. This vital single point of contact should be a catalyst for proactive communication which addresses concerns and finds answers to questions. Strong Project & Account Managers are thorough, professional and absolute advocates for the customer and for delivering what was promised.

New Technology Commitment – We all know that technology advances exponentially on an almost daily basis.  Ask your potential EMS provider how they keep up with technology, what technology investments they have made recently and what are they looking to invest in, in the near future.  Partnering with a company that is committed to advancing their technology and the depth of their service portfolio indicates the company is committed to their future, their client’s needs and maintaining their place in a highly competitive market.

Capacity – Not all assembly lines are alike.  Many manufacturers are focused on volume production, while others focus on low-run and quick-turn projects.  Be clear on what you need and the specific capacities of your potential EMS provider. Overseas EMS providers are often focused on high-volume production which has higher tolerances for scrap or failed parts as an acceptable part of the manufacturing run. Low-run, quick-turn EMS providers have fewer field failures, less waste, and strong focus on quality, and do not allow failures to be discovered in the hands of the end users.

Up-to-date credentials and certifications – EMS providers should be able to not only share their credentials with you but also demonstrate how those credentials are used in their day-to-day operation to assure quality standards are consistently met.  Also note, some credentials are for the company and some are for individuals. For example, ISO standards are for the company. The company commits to certain established protocols in their operations. However, credentials such as IPC relate to the training of various individuals. If just one member of the staff holds a certain certification, the company may use that certification logo as part of their overall credential portfolio. Always ask and clarify which credentials relate to your project and discuss which individuals will be working on your project and their specific qualifications.

Scope of Services – Many firms have a single expertise, such as engineering or just assembly. However, there are a number of certain advantages to partnering with a company that can provide service from concept to final production.  Even if your project doesn’t require a complete array of turn-key services, your EMS partner should be positioned to make sure each step of your project is set up for the next step. For example, there are many brilliant engineers who never deal first-hand with assembly and thus, may need to rework schematics for the final assembly process.  There are many manufacturers who churn out parts and have no means to check for the functionality before a huge batch of electronics are put through the assembly process. A comprehensive scope of services under one roof exposes team members to all departments and they gain first-hand knowledge of how each step of the process impacts the next step.

IT & Security – A common concern for many companies who are preparing to engage with an EMS is security and IT.  It is important to understand if your service provider has an off site server back-up and disaster recovery protocols in place.  In addition, if you are able to tour a service provider’s facility, take careful note of how projects are protected in the environment when other visitors are on site.  A reputable company will be able to discuss and demonstrate the layers of security that are in place to protect your project; from MRP for component and supply chain traceability to physical security measures to employment standards.  Each is critical in protecting electronic projects.

Are you interested in touring the MJS Designs facility as part of discussing your project?  Be sure to mention a tour when you live chat with one of our experts at www.mjsdesigns.com

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