Find the best fit

ESNA Sep13 p14 ACD 1President and CEO of ACD, Scott Fillebrown, reveals what purchasing professionals need to know about finding the best EMS fit

Today’s industry is inundated with electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers all claiming to be ‘the’ contract manufacturing partner that your company needs to achieve success. But how can they all be ‘the one?’ Obviously, they can’t.

Some focus more on one aspect than another, some are larger or smaller, however, when looking for the best overall fit, purchasing professionals should pay attention to some key characteristics.

First, look for a partner that has one level of certification above what you actually need. Every production customer should demand a minimum of ISO-13485 for traceability purposes. Test is also important, not only the ability to perform test, but the ability to design and produce custom solutions.

Ensure the facility provides a constant point of contact, other than the owner or a salesperson and make sure the vendor’s technology road map is ahead of your own. They should have an established quality system with a 12-month or longer track record and good data systems in place. This should encompass not only redundancy, but systems that protect your intellectual property (IP).

Don’t be a little fish in a big pond. Put extreme high volume with a tier one company and lower volumes with a tier two or three, even if you are a big original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

Financial stability is essential. A key indicator is reinvestment in the latest technology, so if you only see newly acquired used equipment, leave immediately. Do not neglect employee relations either. Pick a non-union facility that focuses on employee growth and benefits, creating long tenures.

Finally, look for a partner that offers a good industry mix, as single industry focus could cause issues if that sector hits hard times.