Alpha3 explores what essential services are required from a contract electronics manufacturing partner for a box assembly project.
Box or cabinet assembly projects can be complex but a proficient contract electronics manufacturer should be able to provide the services to support their customers’ teams from concept through to manufacturing and shipping.
As every project is different, any potential CEM partner should conduct an in-depth consultation with the customer following initial contact. Customers need to feel satisfied the CEM understands their business, challenges and the project’s objectives. Only then will they be able to propose a tailored solution and quote.
Quality assurance: Confirming the CEM’s accreditation certificates should always be high on the agenda. These quality accreditations are critical to ensuring products will be safe, high quality, consistent and traceable, thus mitigating future issues. Some standards are generally expected as a minimum regardless of the project (ISO9000 for example) which focuses on quality, repeatability and consistency in supply. For a control panel project, UL508A is the standard providing guidelines on issues including component selection, short circuit current rating (SCCR) and wiring methods.
In addition, sectors with more stringent requirements, such as healthcare or aviation, will hold their own directives which must be complied with. It is wise for customers to research and check for any quality requirements relevant to their industry and application if not already aware.
Technical expertise: It’s a good idea to ask the CEM what design support they offer. Even if a drawing exists, it will need to be assessed for manufacturability where changes may be needed for component availability, production feasibility or cost purposes. If a drawing isn’t available, a dedicated engineer can work with the customer’s team to develop a 3D CAD model. The CEM should also be proactive in making suggestions for improvement. For example, Alpha 3 Manufacturing’s experienced engineers recently streamlined a pre-existing design, resulting in less wiring throughout the cabinet assemblies and therefore a significant cost saving.
Continuous improvement: A good CEM should be committed to a culture of continuous improvement, utilising the latest technology when it comes to design, production and final inspection.
Testing services: Typically, CEMs should include some level of testing, however, it is worth enquiring as to how comprehensive the testing is and whether it meets the product’s requirements. At Alpha 3 Manufacturing, all assemblies are 100 per cent inspected and electrically tested as standard, with engineers often developing tests for specific requirements.
Multiple assembly processes: A range of assembly methods should be in place or available, such as bench line and a cell focused on assembly. This offers flexibility for future increases in supply or complexity.
Some manufacturers will specialise in certain sectors, but most longstanding CEMs will be experienced in designing and producing box or cabinet assemblies for a range of industries and applications. Alpha 3 Manufacturing has worked across numerous sectors, providing a quality service with flexibility and tailored solutions to meet customers’ criteria.