Quick and easy online estimates are just a little too quick and easy
Some Contract Manufacturers have websites that allow you to enter parameters and upload data with the result of an instantaneous quote or the promise to deliver a quote within an hour or two. As a businessman, I understand the marketing logic behind this offer, but from an engineering point of view, that circuit just doesn’t conduct for me.
If you’re shopping online for quotes, ask yourself whether you’re getting the best quote or if deliveries can be fulfilled as promised. Sometimes (as with quick-turn assemblies) it might not matter because of two reasons: you need the assembly very fast (time is more valuable than money) or you just need a quick budgetary estimate.
Common sense tells me that online PCB Assembly quotes are missing key opportunities, which is why I’m convinced that a good working relationship with a good Contract Manufacturer is the best way to get consistently good PCB Assembly quotes.
Here are four ways that a partnership with your CM will benefit the outcome of your quotes.
1. Transparency: Honest quotations build trusting relationships
A transparent quotation tells you exactly what your CM will charge for material, labor and tooling. When it comes to line items on your Bill of Material (BOM), do we always choose the lowest price? No. But we make darn sure the price is the best for the entire BOM.
When you receive your quote and the numbers don’t look right to you, you should have a discussion with your CM to understand the differences.
As a CM, we are good at identifying opportunities, but sometimes more can be found when you talk things out. For example, one of our customers negotiated a better price for LEDs because they used large volumes in other assemblies that we were not building.
Keep in mind that a win-win partnership like this will help overcome the competitive pressures in your industry.
2. Networking: Your CM has better supplier relationships
The Bill of Material (BOM) is loaded with detail and each line item needs to be quoted.
Fortunately for us (and for our customers), our supplier network does this well — and they do it fast. They work hard for us because they know that we need the best haggle-free pricing and most accurate stocking forecasts so that we can deliver on the promises we make to our customers.
When we receive the information we sort through all of the lists and determine the best source for each item.
This is what a good CM does for their client.
3. Accuracy: Work with your CM to clean up your Bill of Materials
An erroneous Bill of Materials can cause hardship in the quoting process.
We receive BOMs everyday that have obsolete parts, missing items, wrong part numbers, duplicate line items, parts listed when they should not be placed on the board. Not only that, but often line items will have really long lead times because no distributor has them in stock.
Fortunately, we have a great network of suppliers that can find the parts we need and can recommend substitutes. Our team also verifies the substitute parts that our suppliers recommend and we also research to find alternate parts.
4. Comprehensiveness: Partnering with your CM yields extra benefits
At Pro-Active, we go the extra mile to quote our assemblies with accurate prices and lead-times.
When the customer places an order shortly after we quote it, we virtually guarantee the delivery that we promised. We’ve noticed that this is not the case with other Contract Manufacturers like us — maybe because of the thoroughness of both our process and our follow-through communication.
Contract Manufacturers who demonstrate a comprehensive process and approach to client/vendor communication can offer many good things for a client. A good CM can:
- Help save the customer tooling cost by combining assemblies together
- Help save component cost by grouping assemblies together
- Find hard-to-find components (long lead time components)
- Find alternates (or substitutes) for obsolete parts
- Find errors in their documentation
- Recommend better delivery schedules to gain price advantages
- Shop qualified Bare PCB houses to get best pricing with highest quality
- Provide quotes that have accurate delivery times and often beat other service providers
In summary, low-priced quotes or quick online quotes may be tempting, but they probably don’t reflect your real PCB challenges. They may be good, but are they great? Great PCB quotes are a result of good partnership with a Contract Manufacturer. What you’ll get in return are the competitive prices and accurate deliveries that you expect.
A good partnership with your CM is really the best way to secure the most realistic PCB quote for your business.