How DFM overcomes procurement challenges

Mouser Electronics’ Mark Patrick explains how DFM can address procurement challenges generated by the conventional design process

A design for manufacture (DFM) strategy aims to deliver a product that is easy to make. To achieve success, communication between engineering, purchasing and production teams is vital. Documenting the design and manufacturing guidelines also helps reduce BoM cost and overcomes potential challenges early in the process. 

For purchasing, there are many things to discuss with the engineering and production teams. For example, a specific device might be technically perfect but difficult to source. Stopping production because a component is missing could delay a product launch—worse still, it may impact revenue or give competitors an edge. 

The ‘build v buy’ consideration is usually a discussion for engineering but the consequences may vary widely. Discrete circuit designs take extra engineering and test effort and add to the BoM, while a ready-made module is a single BoM line item and often size optimised. 

Conformance to safety and type approval standards is another benefit of modules. Using a module can speed the development/testing phases and simplify the BoM. Either way, each part must have a complete documentation package, including relevant certificates.

When delivery leadtimes start to extend, counterfeit components can begin to work their way into the supply chain and represent a significant hazard. Repackaged parts may emerge, which may have another, totally unrelated device packaged within. Here, visual inspection is no longer enough to determine the component’s authenticity—x-ray inspection provides an effective way to dig a little deeper. To mitigate these procurement risks, check with your suppliers that they can confirm traceability for every part. 

Last but not least, there are global issues to consider, ranging from trade disputes to environmental catastrophes. Some of these issues may be high profile and reported in the news. Some are less so but equally disruptive. Component suppliers should keep track and provide you with any early warning signs.

The above elements are just some of the essential aspects of implementing a DFM strategy. Maintaining regular communication with internal and external stakeholders is crucial. The earlier you can identify a potential problem, the more time is available to solve them.

Mouser offers many online tools that help simplify DFM tasks. Forte, Mouser’s BoM tool, offers a free and convenient method of managing the product’s entire bill-of-materials. It provides a host of valuable and time-saving features that help minimise procurement risk. Mouser also provides comprehensive design information for each component, including PCB footprints, symbols and 3D CAD models, which are all free to download.