How to Choose Your EMS Supplier

21 june

Choosing the right electronic manufacturing services (EMS) supplier can play a big part in the success of your company. Pick the right partner and you can rely support that helps you achieve optimal results from your new product introduction.

1. “Can you protect our intellectual property?”
As the digital age evolves, the risks to your intellectual property are more significant than ever. It only takes one slip-up or act of carelessness to shoot a hole in your new product rollout that’s impossible to recover from.

If a company in China gets a hold of your design plans, they can turn around and build it for 10 cents an hour without paying for engineering and development fees. Then they can sell the product at a price with which you simply can’t compete. That’s why employees of companies like Apple can’t even talk to their dog about what they’re working on.

When you give the electronics contract manufacturer (ECM) the details to build an assembly, you are handing over extremely sensitive information. It’s critical that the ECM has systems in place to protect that information.

2. “What’s your quality program like?”
Basic aspects of a quality program include the ability to identify fake components and, of course, having the capability of placing them properly and precisely on the board. Does the contract manufacturer have testing and prototyping capabilities in-house? That’ll also determine the level of thoroughness you get.

3. “Can you meet my requirements for delivery and lead times?”
Although it’s not a must-have, many businesses like to be within driving distance to do an audit of the EMS supplier’s facilities. If this is important to you, then make sure the electronic contract manufacturer is close enough to visit and that they welcome visits.

You’re totally within your boundaries in asking to see the machinery quality, facility cleanliness, etc.

4. “Can you handle the complexity & volume of my order?”
Some board houses focus exclusively on simple, high-volume commodity orders and have no desire to do low-volume orders. Other EMS suppliers specialize in high-mix, low-volume orders that are more suitable for complex projects.

As a buyer, you need to be certain that the contract manufacturer is going to be able to meet your specific order requirements. Some simply can’t measure up -- or don’t want to.