What criteria to adopt when selecting a PCB service provider


Technically, printed circuit boards (PCBs) are often the most complex components of electronic assemblies and products. In addition, the creation of PCBs includes a variety of production processes that require experienced staff and properly equipped machinery. For this reason, outsourcing some of the work to external entities brings many benefits to the contracting authority. The only question is: what criteria should be adopted when choosing a PCB service provider? Let us give you a hint.

No investment in your machinery park, increasing productivity, faster pace, operational efficiency, and a much better quality of the final product are just some of the benefits that an electronics manufacturer can gain by ordering PCB assembly from a contract electronics supplier. Therefore, choosing the right PCB service provider is a crucial task. For PCB assembly to be performed at the highest possible level, outsourcing EMS services should be preceded by a thorough analysis of potential contractors. So let’s take a look at the essential criteria that OEMs should consider.

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Analyze the service provider’s PCB structures

When establishing a relationship with a potential business partner, it is vital that you consider the fact that thanks to this cooperation, you will be able to develop, using the contractor’s experience and mutual information exchange. Therefore, for your partnership to be fruitful, it is essential that you analyze the internal structures of your future EMS provider.

The contractor’s organizational culture is critical. Building a business relationship based on similar values or the way you work will bode well for the future and allow you to gain confidence that your EMS provider will adequately protect your interests.

When analyzing the organizational structure of the PCB service provider, pay attention to the size of the company with which you plan to cooperate. The most fruitful cooperation is usually established between companies with a similar production size, which means that you should not exceed 30-40% of your supplier’s turnover. Thanks to this, you have the opportunity to build a business relationship with a contractor for whom the provision of PCB assembly at the level you require will not be unattractive and who will flexibly respond to your needs.

Don’t be driven exclusively by the price

Of course, the financial aspect is vital, but given the complexity of a PCB product, price should not be your most important point of reference. By deciding to establish business cooperation only based on price, you run the risk of additional costs related to numerous production problems that may arise due to the incompetence of the PCB service provider. EMS planning skills and production experience influence the final price of the product. A contractor’s low level of competence may expose you to the need to incur additional costs to compensate for the lack of external company skills or, even worse, jeopardize the credibility of your brand.

Verify production competencies

Since we have already touched on EMS provider competencies, let’s stay on this thread a little longer. There is no doubt that thanks to the cooperation with the PCB service provider, which has the appropriate level of knowledge and experience, you minimize the risk of production errors, which may have a disastrous impact not only on the price of the final product but also on its quality and the time of introducing an electronic device to the market. So how can you verify the competence of the EMS provider? The easiest way is to get acquainted with the certificates held by a potential business partner, including ISO in relevant areas, or compliance with VDA standards in the field of auditing. That is especially important in the automotive industry. These documents are the best confirmation of the EMS supplier’s competence and guarantee that he successfully implements and implements the best manufacturing practices.

Pay attention to your inventory management abilities

The assembly of printed circuit boards is not limited to the production itself. You can also expect inventory management support from your EMS provider, including:

  • Contact with component suppliers
  • Material delivery planning
  • Management of already purchased items

Suppose you cooperate with a PCB service provider with the appropriate inventory management skills. In that case, your contractor can relieve you in controlling the entire process of purchasing, storing, and using the inventory of materials, which can directly reduce the entire production costs.

Check if you can count on advice on technical issues

The success of any business cooperation lies in the mutual exchange of experiences between companies, trust, and the ability to establish a partnership relationship. Therefore, when choosing an EMS provider, you should count on his advice on technical issues in which the external company is an expert. In other words, the contractor should guide the standard familiarization with product specifications.

So what can you expect from a reliable PCB service provider? The EMS supplier should support you in the pre-production stage through its engineering background, especially in Design for Manufacture (DfM) and Design for Test (DfT). Thanks to the close cooperation at this stage, it is possible to optimize the entire production, thus reducing the final product’s production costs. Cooperation at the pre-production stage is also a more stable and safer production, minimizing the risk of buyers’ returning your products after their introduction to the market.

Verify the industry experience of the PCB service provider

Appropriate financial resources enable purchasing a modern assembly line or employing the best PCB assembly specialists. However, a company cannot buy the experience which determines if the entire production will be carried out correctly. Professional assembly of printed circuit boards requires many years of experience of the company itself and every person involved in the whole process.

The structure of the PCB service provider based on experience is a solid foundation that may decide the success of your cooperation. Thanks to the knowledge of the production realities, a professional EMS supplier will flexibly react to the occurring production changes, preventing their negative consequences on PCB assembly. Therefore, it is essential when choosing a contractor to pay attention to his experience in both production and management of the entire supply chain.

Find a PCB service provider that understands your business goals

If you follow the above criteria when choosing your EMS provider, you can be almost sure that you will establish cooperation with a reliable subcontractor who will support you in achieving your business goals. But, of course, the rest of the collaboration depends on you and your involvement in the entire process. There is no doubt that communication and ongoing information exchange are vital to building profitable business relationships.