Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

Assembler expectations?

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When people here are looking for small to medium scale PCB assembly, what are their expectations for the service?
Do you supply PCB & components?
Do you expect PCB testing after assembly? i.e. power up and function test?
What sort of failure rate do you expect & get?
Does manual assembly of surface mount components bother you?
Any other issues you might want to add?



Just some comments from my work experience:

- We use an assembler company that also manufactures the PCB
- Sometimes, the PCB comes from them, sometimes from another PCB manufacturer. They are not bothered by this.
- We have developed a very good working relation with them and we are able to get a very good and fast service (i.e. get the car, go to them, have a component replaced/soldered/desoldered/inspected and get back home within a couple of hours)
- We provide critical components (i.e. hard to find, specific, expensive, etc) and they are able to supply most of the things that can be ordered through Farnell. They usually have a stock of common stuff: resistors, caps, connectors, etc at good prices.
- The assembly is usually automated with some manual interventions where it makes sense
- The only testing performed on the populated board is short-circuit testing between the power domains and ground, some visual inspection and so on. To be honest, any kind of functional testing is difficult to be performed on our boards and it cannot reasonably be expected from the assembler
- We had our fair share of reasonably-sized issues and we have been able to work with them to successful completion, but there was no recurring trouble that was obvious. On the other side, we also have been responsible for a lot of small troubles and in the end it evens out.
- I do believe that a good business & personal relation is the key for a smooth experience.


The answer to most of your points is whatever you, the customer, wants (and pays) them to do.
This can be anything from you sending them everything and them sending back assembled boards, to you sending all the design info and them designing the final PCB, building test jigs, sourcing parts and PCBs, sending fully assembled, tested and packed products and handling repairs afterwards.
Obviously different companies are geared up to different levels of service and volumes, and choosing the right one is the most important thing.

I recently started a short-run assembly business, I offer board manufacture (obviously I don't do this myself, but I organise it), assembly of SMT and through-hole components, and part sourcing.

I doubt anyone would expect functional testing if they saw my low prices.

I'll source components for a fee, or customers can send their components to me (and boards as well, if they like).#

Of course, it all comes down to the individual requirements for each project.

-Do you supply PCB & components?

For PCB and standard components (such as discretes, standard logic etc) the manufacturer has much better suppliers than I do, so they'll buy those. Sometimes I supply hard to get components that I've got as samples or bought myself.

-Do you expect PCB testing after assembly? i.e. power up and function test?

Only if separately agreed. A test fixture and test program is a sizable project in itself.

-What sort of failure rate do you expect & get?

Are you implying that is ok for a manufacturer to ruin a board with several hudred euros worth of components on it? ;-) circuit boards must be 100% electrically tested, and the manufacturer must know their job. Any error willcause a serious claim.

-Does manual assembly of surface mount components bother you?

Acceptable only in special circumstances and with prior approval. Of course, workmanship must be perfect (there are measurable standards for this). I'm paying for a quality job.


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