06/06/2016 at 14:36 •
Recently, we discussed the importance of the Printed Circuit Board industry’s need to focus on a Make in USA philosophy. Of course, there are setbacks to adopting this philosophy. But how do we alleviate those setbacks and maximize the positives? This month, we will go over how to methodically do this. This is not—by any means—a cookie-cutter solution. Every manufacturer is different and has different logistical challenges and must adapt to succeed.
In today’s landscape, everybody is on a mission to set themselves apart. Regardless of whether the environment is personal or professional, we all want to show how we are different. In the printed circuit board industry—a relatively uniform industry—the best way to do that is to do something that very few other board houses are doing: Total Concept. Total Concept is when a board manufacturer has the ability and resources to not only manufacture but also design and assemble the boards under one roof and most importantly—the courage to execute the model. Admittedly, this involves a significant investment if the infrastructure does not already exist within a given company. This include—but is not limited to—personnel, equipment and of course finances. However, to implement it successfully would increase longevity and diversify a company—propelling them to unprecedented success. Here are five advantages of the Total Concept model:
This is, perhaps, the single most significant aspect about TC; it keeps costs down for the customer. Instead of design, manufacturing and assembly (and possibly, box builds) being done at three different locations, they are all done at one place thereby eliminating many extraneous and unnecessary expenses processing.
When a board house can handle all aspects of the product, it alleviates almost all of the logistical roadblocks that would arise if the same processes were taking place in multiple locations. The customer only has to call, e-mail or otherwise contact ONE location for any questions or concerns. If the customer needs to track their job’s progress, it enables them to do so in a streamlined manner. This also contributes positively to shipping costs. When the person who designed your board and the person assembling it work in the exact same building that the board is fabricated, you can rest a bit more assured that things will not be misconstrued in communication between the people who are working for you.
When the customer is dealing with one company to achieve their goals from design to assembly, it helps that their vision can be accurately conveyed to one person and not get lost in translation between many mouths and ears. This approach offers a number of advantages. First and foremost, making revisions using this format is very simple. The manufacturer already has everything on file; therefore, they are able to quickly make any alterations and reproduce the new and improved board. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong, it goes wrong in one place. The customer is not burdened with having to reach out to numerous companies to coordinate the diagnosing and solving of the issue. All they have to do is reach out one company in one location to address the problem.
Any successful industry is more or less a copycat business. TC is a model that has been proven to work and yet, implemented by very few. To successfully execute this model on a large scale would mean to show your competitors that it works thereby incentivizing them to do the same. As a result, this competition ultimately helps the customer.
It goes almost without saying that when properly utilizing the TC model, the speed with which a job gets accomplished is exponentially faster. In stark contrast to the outdated model of getting receiving bare boards from one company and then sending them out to another to get assembled, your assembly department is feet—not miles—away from where the boards were fabricated.
TC is not about doing...Read more »
06/03/2016 at 15:35 •
Throughout the decades, irrespective of industry or sector, markets have thrived on competition. They have, however, also relied upon some semblance of unity within their respective competitors. Industries rely upon their individual member companies’ ability to work together for the greater good.
The PCB industry is no different.
First and foremost, the desire for the utmost quality through parts manufactured in the United States is something that we should all be committed to. Here at PNC, we like to say, "We'd rather explain the cost of quality than have to apologize for the lack of it." The pros of using and buying PCBs in the United States, as opposed to Asia far outweigh the cons and the inverse holds true as well. Besides the obvious reasons such as promoting the domestic economy instead of a foreign one and keeping the jobs stateside, the most important factor is quality. Today’s customer—understandably so—has been forced to think from a cheaper-now perspective and has not been able to give any thought to longevity. The very same customer is subsequently required to buy more frequently due to the fact that the whole is less than the sum of its foreign parts.
Some may think that this is better for us, the actual producers of the boards, due to a frequent turnaround. However, with a sacrifice in quality of goods provided comes a sacrifice in the reputation of the business—and by extension, the industry—providing said goods. Another key facet of made-in-America boards is the service provided by the firm designing, making and/or assembling them. Sure, when you buy from Asia, the pricing is extremely competitive; however, chances are you are dealing with a broker whose only concern is their percentage. For brokers, promptness, quality and longevity take a backseat to commission and personal gain. In the unfortunate event that your order is late or revisions need to be made, they are long gone.
Perhaps the most important downfall of Asian-made boards is their manufacturing practices. Bare minimums are keys to the pricing success that makes U.S. board manufacturers at a disadvantage. For example: The IPC Standard states 1.97 Au over 118 Ni, but it is often seen that the overseas boards are far under the standard amounts of Au and Ni. It may look good, but this will certainly have an effect on the solderabilty. But how can we all do our part?
As a board house, we can all focus on educating our customers with regards to why it is worth the extra dollars to get the job done stateside. Most consumers of PCBs already have some semblance of knowledge about the product they are asking for and will know some of the pros and cons.
As a customer, you can think about your end user. Whether it is for the mass production of a board, which will then be incorporated into a box build or for a small run of prototypes, the goal is to overall deliver the best product possible. That is something we can all agree on is easiest to accomplish in this country.
06/03/2016 at 15:33 •
PNC Inc. has improved its manufacturing capabilities with the recent purchase of an ECOSELECT 2 selective wave solder machine manufactured by Ersa.
In today's advancing technological climate, boards are more frequently being designed with a high concentration of mixed technologies. A selective wave solder machine has many advantages over a traditional wave soldering machine which made this an appropriate investment for PNC to make.
Not only is a selective solder cleaner in terms of less flux residue being left on the board's surface, it is also more economical due to the reduced amount of flux used. Instead of passing over a wave of molten solder introducing the board to another heat cycle, these machines have nozzles that are programmed to only put solder where needed. As a result, the flux that precedes the solder is also only placed where needed, which in turn leads to a cleaner board. Once programmed, a selective wave solder can cut down on hours of manual through-hole soldering.
"The acquisition of the Ersa ECOSELECT 2 Selective Wave Solder is in keeping with our philosophy of providing the best quality under the Total Concept model while still maintaining some semblance of cost efficiency. By adopting the Total Concept, we have been able to provide our customers with a full suite of quality printed circuit board solutions under one roof," said President and CEO Sam Sangani.