This blog post is excerpted from our 7-part guide to choosing the right parter to design, engineer and manufacture your key electronic components. Want to learn more? Sign up now and get a chapter in your inbox every week!
Laying the Groundwork: Before you start your search for the appropriate EMS, you will want to ask yourself the following questions:
- How far along are you in the process? Do you already have a prototype?
- How many pieces do you think you will need to manufacture?
- Where will your product be sold?
- How much design and engineering support do you need?
- Exactly where are you in the process of developing your electronic product?
Are you just beginning development or do you already have a product prototype? Taking your product’s development status, as well your internal capabilities, into account will directly influence your selection of the right partner. Your partner needs will vary depending on whether you require a build-to-print, or someone who can assist you in the development and design for manufacturability.
- You will also need to estimate your anticipated annual volume.
If you know your volume will be limited to, for example, 100 pieces annually, you will probably want to avoid larger manufacturers. Because these firms will consider your manufacturing run to be negligible, they will likely relegate you to secondary importance, reserving their efforts and staff to service clients with significantly larger volumes. The price point they are able to offer you may be enticing, but inevitably, you won’t receive the support that you need.
- Also consider where the end product will be sold.
Will it be sold in North America, Europe, Asia, or some global combination? Depending on the complexity of the product and how it’s manufactured, it might make more sense to produce it in the continent where it will eventually be sold. The total landed cost may be the same (or even less) if manufacturing is in relative proximity to the point of sale, as opposed to the long lead times required by shipping across country, or continent. You also need to account for travel to your supplier in the total landed cost. You will need to visit your partner on a regular basis to review their progress, their adherence to your quality standards, etc.
- Finally, how much support will you need as a customer?
Have you got an extensive internal support network, including engineering and program management support? Do you plan to be involved in the selection of materials? If not, do you have an internal purchasing group to run that for you or would you prefer to rely heavily on the selected partner? This question comes down to evaluating the size and capability of your internal resources. The partner you select should blend well with your own capabilities or fill any gaps.
Many of these questions will be referenced again in upcoming chapters. Knowing the answers to these fairly basic, yet critical questions from the outset will help you prepare for more the complex issues you will face.