10 questions you should be asking your PCB assembly partner

Selecting a PCB assembly firm can be nerve-wracking and risky. With literally hundreds of choices worldwide, your decision need not be limited to price alone. While cost is an important factor, there are a lot of other aspects that you must think about. To help you choose the right PCB assembler, here are 10 questions you should be asking them.

1. Is the PCB assembler financially stable?

In order for a PCB assembler to steadily supply both materials and labor, they must be financially stable since their cash outlays for these requirements are greater and sooner than your initial payments. Failure to consider this aspect will greatly impact your business as this may cause not only late deliveries but irreparable damages.

2. What quality accreditations do they possess?

Pcb assemblyThe PCB assembler must be serious about quality and to prove this, they must have objective evidence in the form of certifications. ISO 9001:2008 is a standard that is recognized throughout the world and which most companies possess. For medical products, look for ISO 13485. For products in the aerospace and defense industry, look for AS9100.

3. Do they have certified technicians?

While there are quality system certifications, the PCB assembler of choice should be able to provide objective evidence in the form of certifications that their technicians understand and perform to industry standards dealing with acceptability of PCB assembly (including the soldering processes and materials used).

4. Do they have strong inventory system?

Most electronic components are sold in minimum package sizes. Thus, your PCB assembler should be able to carefully manage and reasonably price this inventory system during the quoting process and towards the end of the contract term. They must either give you the option to amortize the excess of these supplies or hold it until your next order without charging you up front.

5. Is the PCB assembler transparent enough?

Your PCB assembler should be willing enough to share with you everything that may affect the Pcb assembly service you require of them. They must be willing to provide you a detailed list of the product costs, including the cost for the bill of materials and the cost of labor and equipment use. The PCB assembler must also inform you when things go away.

6. How do they manage information?

You and your preferred PCB assembler should have the right access and control to information. The PCB assembler must make it easy for you to see how things are done and see the job status online. Engineering revisions must be easily relayed and timely received by your PCB assembler; otherwise, this will cause significant quality issues that may not be detected until the electronic assembly has been shipped to you.

7. Is the PCB assembly done in a controlled environment?

Environmental controls, such as humidity control and electrostatic discharge control, are critical to the manufacturing quality. Humidity control is crucial to surface mount technology and through-hole assembly processes. Electrostatic discharge control is imperative for sensitive semiconductors as high electrostatic discharge can destroy integrated circuits.

8. What equipment do they possess?

The PCB assembler values efficiency, speed and reliability if they have acquired standard equipment and know how to maintain them. Be cautious in dealing with PCB assemblers that still use obsolete or sub-standard equipment.

9. Is their technical competency enough?

A good PCB assembler has technical competency which means that they can quickly adapt to technological trends and test products, and can accurately troubleshoot products.

10. Do they have positive feedbacks?

Your PCB assembler of choice should already have happy customers who are eager to share their experiences with the PCB assembler. While checking customer reviews can be a good starting point, such reviews often don’t tell the entire story.