Know-how gets products to market on time

Dynamic EMS’ production manager, Gordon McAlpine, explains how know-how can help resolve manufacturing issues without forcing products through a redesign process.

The most nerve-wracking time for any company introducing a new product is when the first populated boards arrive from the EMS. The OEM has done everything correctly, tested at every stage and worked with the EMS to ensure the design is as manufacturable as possible.

However, there is still a chance of a failure leading to a redesign which is painful and expensive. Costs include more development time and the expense of missing the market. Early sales make up a disproportionate amount of a product’s potential profit, especially if the product is seasonal or event driven. This hit is compounded if a competitor manages to get to market first and win sales. A delay of between nine to 12-months in introducing an electronic product has been estimated to cost up to 50 per cent of the product’s anticipated revenues.

 Working with a knowledgeable EMS can often provide a solution that minimises delays or even keeps the product launch on schedule, giving the OEM time to take more permanent steps to rectify the design if required. That possibility depends on the type of fault and the degree of the EMS provider’s expertise, as any changes require in-depth knowledge of the product’s function and manufacturing processes to find possible remedies.

Repairing and reworking faulty designs originally took the shape of breaking copper tracks and adding wires. However, as boards became more complex, more thorough knowledge and expertise in a range of disciplines is required to put things right.         

 As an example, Dynamic EMS recently helped a customer quickly resolve a problem, allowing the customer to get to market without a redesign. The issue involved an SMD HDMI connector that used through-hole pins to aid placement and improve robustness. Both these techniques require different fabrication methods, which can lead to a build-up of tolerances. 

The drill and artwork alignment tolerances compounded on some boards and when the connectors were placed on the PCB, they twisted slightly causing a short. Dynamic EMS engineers adjusted the placement machine to accommodate the offset but the faults persisted, although the alignment appeared excellent. After more investigation, the company found some boards had nodules on one side of the hole that pushed the connector, again causing rotation. The situation was resolved after component placement was offset in the other direction.

Dynamic EMS has worked hard to bring knowledgeable personnel into the company, while  encouraging staff to take advantage of training opportunities. This know-how lets the company work with customers to find solutions to manufacturing issues and offer help on a variety of other topics, such as advice on how to design and manufacture more environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions or helping with procurement and suggesting alternative products and suppliers in times of component shortages.