Choice shouldn’t be a barrier to change

Sales manager, DJ Assembly, Bill Skelton

With the UK electronics manufacturing sector thriving, and a plethora of providers to choose from, discover how to select the right CEM to team up with.

The United Kingdom’s electronics manufacturing sector is a thriving industry filled with talented people who are helping original equipment manufacturers drive innovation forwards.

Over the past few years, there has been a resurgence in domestic electronic manufacturing. There are a variety of reasons for this, including poor experiences and quality concerns with offshore firms, as well as OEM innovation, leading to a new wave of British excellence.

The good news is that for a company looking to reshore their production lines, ride the wave of innovation, or simply swap contract electronics manufacturers, there is an abundance of choice. Unfortunately, this also poses a problem, namely, how to select which CEM to partner with on an upcoming project.

To answer this question, it is important to know what you are looking for since each individual CEM will have its own strengths and weaknesses.

Seeking specialities
Some CEMs specialise in high-volume assemblies, while others focus on highly technical, low-volume projects. If you are looking to outsource assembly of a complex, safety-critical product, it makes little sense to work with a company that is unable to offer the expertise required to make a success of it.

In this way, the experience of the CEM’s technical staff can make or break the production process. Although every assembly is unique, there are always some shared characteristics among projects from similar industry sectors so it makes sense to enquire about the kind of products the CEM is familiar with.

More often than not, hands-on experience in certain fields will ensure a CEM is aware of sector-specific demands and how to incorporate them into production plans.

Flag up flexibility
Obviously, money will play an important part in helping to determine which CEM to join forces with. The cost of the assembly will be key, but it is also crucial to look at the bigger picture and factor in delivery charges, sourcing costs and any other value-added services.

It’s also important to consider your future requirements. What happens, for example, if demand is greater than first thought and the CEM is unable to increase production? Remember to ask what buffer levels will be accommodated and how much free capacity there will be at any one time.

Flexibility is important in other areas too. Can the service provider offer tailored delivery dates, a stockholding or a supply chain management service? More agile companies may even be able to facilitate a call-off arrangement, where the CEM absorbs the annual stockholding and production costs, only delivering and invoicing on an ‘as needed’ basis. Alternatively, can the CEM provide design support or bespoke prototyping to iron out any potential problems before production deadlines loom on the horizon.

Of course, there are countless things to consider during the outsourcing process. The journey from deciding to work with an external electronics manufacturer to receiving your first completed assembly can often be an arduous one. It can be frustrating, but by addressing these often-neglected points, you will be one step closer to selecting the right CEM for your product.