Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner

Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.

Many of our customers are now developing products (rocket ships, electric cars, super LED lighting, cloud memory stations, and more) that are so advanced, they have a difficult time sourcing the right PCBs to fit into these products.

I have been told by many of our customers that this is indeed a challenge that has created a high level of concern. Many are now desperately and immediately seeking solutions for these issues, which means they will have to develop guidelines for both choosing and partnering with the right PCB suppliers.

With that in mind, here are six guidelines from the board fabricators point of view for making your PCB vendor your PCB partner:

  1. Make sure you have the right suppliers. This means checking their capabilities, technology levels, service capabilities, customer care, capital plans, and desire to work cooperatively with your company. You will have to visit each other so both parties can gain a thorough understanding of how each company does business. Look for chemistry and synergy between your companies.

  2. Be open and trusting. To break down the barriers and create the openness that is required in a true partnership, you will have to trust the right suppliers once you have chosen them.

  3. Understand their investment strategy. This includes people, equipment, and software. Ultimately, a company that is going to be around for a long time must be continuously investing in all three.

  4. Share your visions for the future. You must open up to the right vendor/partner by giving them a complete description of where your company is today and where it plans to go in the future. They should do the same thing. Once again, there must be synergy for a strong partnership to develop.

  5. Share and share alike. This means everything. You will be working together. Their technical people are going to have to visit your facility to see what you need, and vice versa. This will be especially true when you start building boards with cutting-edge technology—boards that no one has ever built before. Your teams will have to come together and work as one team looking for solutions that will help you produce a better end product.

  6. Forget those purchasing rules. Once you have turned your vendor into a partner, you will have to treat them as a true partner. You will not be able to take the technology you learned about and developed together to a cheaper vendor, as so many of our customers have done in the past. By choosing to elevate a PCB fabricator from mere vendor to a vendor partner, you have made the decision to stick with them for the long haul. And they have made a commitment to you to turn over their resources and proprietary technology for the good of the partnership. Taking that technology to a cheaper vendor who does not know how to develop technology, only how to build cheap products from established technologies, will break the trust with your vendor partner and they will never work with you again.

In the end, it all boils down to one simple rule. Treat your vendor partners with respect and you will have an excellent board source for all your needs, both today and in the future.

Anaya Vardya is the CEO and president of American Standard Circuits.

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The Printed Circuit Designer's Guide to...Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs

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2018

Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner

06-12-2018

Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.

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Standard of Excellence: 5 Things a Total Global Solutions Supplier Can Provide

01-10-2018

Our world now extends far beyond the traditional brick and mortar of the domestic board suppliers of yesteryear. Now our customers demand that PCB fabricators provide them with a complete and total printed circuit board solution, from domestically built ITAR-registered defense and aerospace boards to high-volume, offshore solutions.

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2017

Standard of Excellence: Customers are Shooting for the Stars—Are We Coming?

08-17-2017

For years we have been calling them “science projects,” those PCB orders that did not quite fit into our normal process stream and therefore needed special attention, as well as special handling. Often, we have had to use trial and error to come up with just the right process to successfully complete the order.

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Standard of Excellence: The Challenges of Hiring Good People and Methods for Success

05-17-2017

Increasingly, we hear about the challenges of finding and hiring good people in our industry. We are being hit on all sides; much of our work force is aging out while young people don’t seem to be too interested in joining the printed circuit board industry. Let’s face facts: Fewer young people are going to college to become circuit board process engineers.

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Standard of Excellence: The Advantages of Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuits

05-01-2017

Since their introduction, flexible and rigid-flex circuits have been steadily moving from the fringe of electronic interconnection towards its center. Today, flex and rigid-flex circuits are found in countless products from the very simple to the highly complex. The reasons for this shift to the center are numerous; most of them are related to the advantages they offer. An examination of some of the benefits and advantages will make this clear.

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Standard of Excellence: Staying Prepared with Operations

03-08-2017

Handling the operations of a PCB company these days is a challenge, to say the least. When I started in 1979, we were building single-sided, double-sided, four-layer multilayers, and the occasional six-layer if you really had your act together. We were using FR-4 materials sprinkled in with an occasional polyimide build.

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2016

Standard of Excellence: Selling Technology—A PCB Engineer Transitions to Sales

12-21-2016

Selling technology today takes a great deal of time, patience and most of all knowledge of the product. There was a time when a salesperson was just that, a salesperson. Now, with the onset of all the new technologies, from RF and metal backed boards to flex and rigid-flex boards, to HDI and microvia boards and heavy copper boards, a salesperson must know what he’s talking about.

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Standard of Excellence: RF Microwave Technology—The Future is Now

11-29-2016

Although RF/microwave technology has been around for a considerable amount of time, many people are still not sure exactly what it is. This month, I am going to dedicate my column to explaining exactly what it is, why it is used, and in what products is it used. I’ll also discuss who needs it.

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Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

11-18-2016

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

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Communication Breeds Success

08-29-2016

We all need to talk to one another. You need to work closely with your customers. And we all need to work with the new generation of PCB designers and design engineers, many of whom have never set foot in a board shop. Fortunately, they make up for their lack of DFM knowledge with their hunger for information.

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The Future is in Fine Lines

07-11-2016

The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces.

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LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

05-25-2016

Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well...

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Tips for Finding a Great PCB R&D Partner

04-06-2016

This new column, Standard of Excellence, represents a cooperative writing effort by a team of experts at American Standard Circuits. This month, we begin with CEO Anaya Vardya, who focuses on R&D. In his piece, he provides his insights on what characteristics to look for in a good R&D PCB fabrication vendor partner, and a few things that are expected of them to do for you.

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