Choosing a High-Quality Electronics Manufacturer
People take electronics for granted. Unless you’re an engineer, electronics and printed circuit boards are just the magical things they stuff inside your favourite devices and appliances to make them work.
You don’t care what’s inside the case, and why would you? You’re only concerned with functionality. You want your pedometer to count your steps. You want your hover board to take you for a ride. You want your smartphone to connect your calls, run your apps and play your media. You don’t care how it happens, you just expect it to happen.
But, electronics manufacturers know that such consumer confidence didn’t materialize out of thin air. Consumer confidence in electronics has been hard-won over many years with robust quality assurance, and the due diligence of responsible manufacturers.
So, with the recent recall of thousands of hover boards and a million Samsung smart phones in recent months, the quality and safety of electronic products has been forced into an unfortunate spotlight. Images of electronic components from these incendiary toys – including printed circuit boards (PCBs) cobbled together with duct tape and craft glue – are calling into question the way companies evaluate and buy electronics.
Hover boards have been involved in numerous incidents of spontaneous combustion. They’ve burst into flames while charging and while in use or not. They’ve been responsible for house fires, mall fires and personal injuries. They’ve been banned by every major airline as hazardous cargo.
The problem comes down to cheap quality lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries and inexpertly manufactured printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). A li-ion battery is an obvious choice for small electronic devices. It can pack a punch by storing a vast amount of energy in a small area. But, the last thing you want is a ruptured battery.
Unlike a smartphone, for example, a hover board must be designed to take repeated physical punishment while in use. If the batteries rupture, they can cause a short circuit, and instigate a significant fire hazard. That’s true of all li-ion batteries. The difference is a high quality li-ion battery should be designed to withstand a more grueling environment. Many cut-rate batteries haven’t lived up to that level of quality assurance.
Compounding the problem are substandard PCBAs with shoddy spot soldering, faulty wiring and metal shavings that have led to short circuits and explosions amongst even high-quality li-ion batteries. It’s a one-two punch that has tarred the entire hover board industry with negative publicity. It didn’t have to be this way.
There are many manufacturers making PCBAs, and quality and pricing is all over the map. The rush to get to market with an electronic device can lead to poor choices when choosing a manufacturer. Are you getting a true bargain on your PCBAs? Or are you getting a cut-rate product for a cheap price?
Substandard components can undermine the quality of an entire device regardless of how well it is designed or constructed, and potentially tarnish your entire brand. Ensure you get the high-quality you expect and deserve by considering these three factors when choosing a manufacturer for your PCBAs:
- Certification – Are you considering an internationally certified manufacturer? Achieving internationally recognized certification is a time-consuming, labour-intensive process, and as such, is an indicator of a manufacturer’s commitment to quality. Don’t let your project be part of a manufacturer’s learning curve.
- Experience – Are you considering a manufacturer with extensive manufacturing experience, and a history of meeting and exceeding client expectations? A manufacturer with a long and satisfied client list can foreshadow the type of relationship you will have and the type of product you will receive.
- Excellence – Are you considering a manufacturer who invests in excellence? A manufacturer that continually invests in state-of-the-art technology, robust processes for quality improvement, and a creative and dedicated team is a manufacturer that is committed to your success.
Choosing a reliable electronics partner is key to producing quality products, avoiding potential tragedy and negative publicity. The debacle the hover board industry finds itself embroiled in is a cautionary tale of just how bad things can get when the rush to market a product overshadows common sense and due diligence in wisely choosing that partner.