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Can Electronic Manufacturing Be Affordable in the United States?

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

For most companies, and most headlines, it has become trendy to look overseas to produce affordable products. The perception being that you can’t create a product in the States at an affordable rate or match the production capabilities of say, China. Conelec is out to prove that you can create an affordable product Stateside and not only match quality, but exceed it. 

But Why the United States?

Lower energy costs, increased productivity and automation, growing domestic markets, and shorter supply chains are shifting trends. Not to mention producing your product in the States generally makes it easier to walk the factory floor, watch the manufacturing process and inspect quality on each run. For example, with Conelec, our managers are always available to discuss your products. Customer service is key and because to us, everything matters.

Shorter Supply Chains

There’s a lot of factors that generally assumed when manufacturing overseas – one of those is supply chains. The added cost of shipping, tariffs and of course, the duties all add to the bottom-line. Extra factors such as managing those complex and lengthy supply chains for those overseas companies – is, to put it lightly, difficult. 

The path of least resistance makes sense, when your product is new. There’s always issues that come up – which can be design or component issues – say a possible defect? US companies can get products in consumers’ hands quicker. You can get replenished stocks quicker. You can make design changes quicker. Don’t just rate labor rates – make sure your analysis factors in worker productivity, transit costs, logistical issues, time-to-market and other expenses that you may have in certain scenarios. 

One Takeaway

Deciding where to manufacture your products depends on a multitude of factors. But assuming China is the cheapest and most effective manufacturing solution is an antiquated approach to operating a business today. If there’s one takeaway I want readers to get out of this article, it is this: Do your research and question everything you think you know about manufacturing, especially for new and small business.

Who Should You Trust For Your Electronic Assembly Needs?

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

Finding your contractor manufacturer is tough. We always recommend ourselves but we understand you’re going to explore options. Getting different quotes, meeting with the engineers, visiting the plant and learning about the manufacturing capabilities. It’s all super time-consuming. We decided to make a quick list for you to take with you during your search process.

Trusting

The first introduction to the company should give you a warm feeling. Is this a company I can call when there’s an emergency? Do I know the names of the people directly working on my project? Will I be able to see the assembly if I decided to drop-by?

Getting answers to your top questions starts with the ability to trust.

Has Industry Experience

Startup companies are often quite enthusiastic about taking on new clients, and may even offer irresistibly low prices. It’s important to remember, though, that experience pays. You should always look for a business that has been handling electronic assembly for years. Don’t’ hesitate to ask your prospective contract manufacturer how long they have actually been in business, as well as what their hiring requirements are for their employees. Is their team comprised of seasoned veterans? This is always ideal.

Experience pays. In an industry with so much growth and changes in technology – you’ll want to partner with a company that has the experience to take you from prototype to full-production. If you scale, you need a company that can scale with you. Be sure to always ask your contract manufacturer how long they’ve been in business. You can even inquire about their hiring process, if you’d like to know how they handle quality control with new hires. How many seasoned engineers do they have? Ask way — and be sure to walk away with solid answers.

Is Based in America

Taking your business off shore isn’t a good idea for several reasons. First, you are reducing the amount of work that your company is producing for American laborers who are in need. Secondly, many overseas contract manufacturing businesses tend to make use of counterfeit components and parts. While this may not seem like that big of a deal at first glance, it can create big problems. If parts used aren’t up to US industry codes and requirements, you could be fined and forced to recall your products. A faulty unit as a result of counterfeit parts can also result in a lawsuit or harm to another person. It’s in your best interest to stick with an American company that adheres to a higher standard.

The dream is always to have your goods produced in the States. You want to drive to your manufacturer, talk to them during normal hours and know you can stamp your product with the prestigious, “Made in America.” The big part when deciding where to produce comes down to cost. We can’t speak on others, but at Conelec, we can compete with any overseas manufacturer when it comes to quality, cost and production. How? Well, it starts with equipment. Our Panasonic NPM-W is the absolute latest. We’re talking about some of the top electronics on the market are produced with it. Second, comes from our LEAN manufacturing principals to keep waste out and efficiency up. Third, comes down to experience. We know how to produce high-level assembly without sacrificing quality.

Well-Connected

Save money on the parts that you purchase without having to sacrifice quality or safety by finding a contract manufacturing company that has strongly established relationships with suppliers. This will ensure that you will always get the fairest and lowest prices possible for the components required for your boards.

We’re besties with our suppliers. Our team is always looking to get the fairest and lowest prices for our customers — and work to make sure that we’re always looking to help you cut costs. You already have a great product — allow us to make it a carefree manufacturing experience.

Standing Behind the Work

The contract manufacturer you choose should stand behind their work. A trustworthy company will offer fulfillment services, help you troubleshoot issues and look to help with any issues that may arise during ANY stage of production.

Finding YOUR contract manufacturer of course starts with a call. We hope you consider us for your production and know that once you’ve had a chance to see our facility, meet the team and learn about what makes us different, you’ll look no further than Conelec.

 

US Based Electronics Assembly: Why It’s Making a Comeback

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

We hear about it all the time. On tv, websites or on covers of newspapers in our grocery stores; manufacturing is nearly gone in the US. The perception is that overseas, especially in places like China, it’s just cheaper to produce your goods. Lower wages, more workers and cheaper cost of goods. BUT, that’s not the case anymore. Let’s go over some myths you may have heard recently about electronic manufacturing and why Conelec can compete with anyone when it comes to price and quality.

 

Myth: All US-based companies are moving manufacturing overseas. 

This may have been more true 10 years ago but with recent reports talking about the growing number of companies expanding their capabilities stateside:

U.S. firms that have long operated abroad are making similar moves: Caterpillar, GE and Ford are among those that have announced that they’re shifting some manufacturing operations back to the United States. And economists are signaling the beginning of a major renaissances for American manufacturing. – Washington Post

What does this mean for you? IF you were considering producing a product stateside, you can now feel reassured that the product can be produced at an affordable rate and will be more readily available for inventory purposes.

 

Myth: Workers are way cheaper in China than the U.S. 

Back in 2006, the gap between workers was about $17 dollars. Pretty substantial amount. But as of 2015, the gap has shrunk to $7 bucks. This mostly from the increased wealth of China and the demand of workers for more money. Dan North, an economist talks about companies thought process with the lower gap between countries:

If you’re a U.S. company and the advantage is only $7 per hour, suddenly it may be worth staying home,” North says. “If I stay here, I have lower inventory costs, lower transportation costs. I’m closer to my market, I can have higher-quality production and I can keep my technology.

There’s a lot of things that go into making a decision on where to produce goods but quality should always be on your mind. Being able to walk the plant producing your goods should always be on your mind. Being able to pull inventory affordably off the shelf should always be available. You never know what your demand forecast can change to and having some stateside (hi!) can help save you money and save you headaches.

 

Myth: It’s cheaper to produce goods in Europe or Japan. 

Another case of maybe in the past but many companies are moving their operations to the States for cost-cutting. IKEA just opened up a facility in Virginia to cut shipping costs. Nissan, Honda, and Toyota are ramping up their exports.

 

Myth: The US is dominated by big manufacturing companies that drive costs up.

In the past, companies like Dupont would handle every aspect of production – but now with so many smaller companies springing up and having success. A compete landscape is better for everyone. Especially those looking to produce their goods stateside.


We want to be your electronic manufacturer. Come for a tour of our facility. We know once you see it, meet our team and hear our strategy to produce the highest quality product for your business— you’ll choose us for all your needs. Call us today: 386-873-3800 or email: info@conelec.net.

VMA: Lou Fifer Scholarship Recap

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

We had a fantastic time meeting some great companies at the Lou Fifer Tournament. We had a ton of fun.

What is First Pass Yield and Why Does it Matter?

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

You’ve probably heard the term used before or if you haven’t, thanks for coming to our site for more info. We’re Conelec, we offer turnkey electronic manufacturing services and we’re located in Sunny Florida.

So, First Pass Yield an important metric for measuring quality and production performance in manufacturing. There are loads of benefits to including it, such as measuring the effectiveness of a process and eliminating waste. The significance really comes into play when we talk about reworks. In most facilities, reworks can be a huge time and COST burden on final production. Using the First Pass Yield metric can help prevent hidden costs and eliminate untimely reworks. We have a ton of data on hand and go over our month-to-month results with you. You’ll be super impressed.

On top of minimizing additional costs, First Pass Yield can measure success of continuous improvement activities. You’ll see with some manufacturing companies that they’ll introduce initiatives to reduce waste and inefficiency but still not measure the effectiveness of it without first pass yield analysis. It’s truly one of those things, if you’re going to do one, why not do the other?

Conelec focuses and prominently displays our monthly analytics on our shop floor. Our team talks, discusses and constantly looks for ways of improvement. We continue to look for improvement to constantly pass more value, more incentives and better results to our customers.

 

The formula is pretty straightforward and we’ve included it below:


First Pass Yield Formula

First pass yield = (units of products completed from process to specification with no rework) / (total units of products entering the process)

First Pass Yield Example

If 100 units enter a process and99 are finished to specification—and 2 are reworked;
First Pass Yield = (99-2) / 100 = .97 = 97%

 


Call today: 386-873-3800 or email us at: info@conelec.net. We’re standing by ready to talk.

We’d love for you to come to the floor and discuss more with our team. Our Quality Manager will breakdown how Conelec not only saves our customers money but continuously creates affordable opportunities for them.

Why Conelec Uses Laser Etching and How It Improved Manufacturing.

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

Conelec has recently invested in laser-etch equipment to improve our ability to uniquely identify our customers’ products, as well as improve our process yields.

Laser etching is a means to replace the traditional paper, polyester or kapton label typically applied to printed circuit board assemblies. The benefits to laser etching are several fold.

Traditional label stock is expensive and the cost of the label is passed on to the customer.  Laser etching adds no material cost to the assembly.

Traditional labels have to be printed and then applied to the bare boards.  The laser etch process is automated and requires much less time per board than the manual processes previously mentioned.

Labels are three dimensional objects and therefore have thickness.  The thickness of the label can work against us during the paste printing process by preventing efficient gasketing of the stencil and board.  A laser-etched unique identifier has no thickness and will not adversely affect print quality.

Labels are relatively large and require open real estate.  Many of our customers are packing a lot of electronics in small packages and thus the availability of real estate is rare.  Laser etching of 2D barcodes can be accomplished in areas as small as 3mm x 3mm.

Label printers can produce poor quality barcodes or even human-readable text over time as ribbons or print heads wear out.  Laser etch equipment produces the same high-quality identification time after time.

In general, laser etching improves cost, quality and cycle time.

What’s the difference between laser etching, laser marking and laser engraving?

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

So, you’ve got a product and you’re confused on which laser service you’re going to need. They all sound the same but what is the core differences between marketing, etching and engraving? It comes down to materials and let us explain how to tell the difference. We offer laser etching in-house.

Laser marking is used for marking different types of metals which need serial or model numbers. A laser, via computer optics and rotary capabilities will mark any variation of flat, round or curved surfaces with serial numbers, alphanumeric variations and bar codes.

Laser etching is tremendously helpful when you need to etch away a certain material. This could include: plastics, ceramics and laminates to create identifiers or labels. The process involves vaporizing material from the surface of a part. This will usually be done on coated parts.

Laser engraving is mostly used for wood, metal plaques, firearms, jewelry, etc. You’ve probably seen this service offered by most companies to add your name on a product. The process is removing material to add depth to the mark on the part.

 

Contact us today for help with your project. 

 

Understanding the Differences between Class I, II and III Medical Devices

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

We manufacture a good amount of medical devices for clients but one thing that may not be clear prior, is the classifications of the devices. Depending on consumer risk and how complex the design is, FDA guidelines must be met. Let’s dive into what defines each Class.

Explaining Class I Medical Devices:
A Class I Medical device can be described as simple. That describes the design and the fact that it holds almost no potential risk. There are some general FDA policies it must follow, such as registering the device, branding with labeling, proper manufacturing (hello!) and the FDA has to alerted prior to marketing. A good example of a Class I device would be bandages or examination gloves.

Explaining Class II Medical Devices:
A Class II Medical device are much more complicated in design and of course, risk. A Class II must have special labeling, meet mandatory performance standards and post-market surveillance. In general, most medical devices will fall under the Class II categorization. Some examples would be powered wheelchairs and x-ray machines.

Explaining Class III Medical Devices:
A Class III Medical device are very complicated and intricate in design. This is where strict guidelines will come into play, mostly because these devices pose the greatest risk. Class III follows the same guidelines as I and II, but also has to have pre-market approval by the FDA, a scientific review before marketing. Class III devices at times will be relied on to sustain human lives, so malfunctions are not acceptable in a any manner. Some examples would be pacemakers, cerebral simulators and heart valves.

Now that we’ve discussed classifications, let’s talk about manufacturing. If you have a medical device you’re looking to produce, give us a call at: 386-873-3800 or email: info@conelec.net.

 

Contact us today for help with your project. 

Why Testing Matters in Electronic Manufacturing

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

Confirming quality and identifying early issues

Before you decide on testing your boards, you need to ask yourself a few questions: What happens if there was a design issue? What if there was a faulty component? How do I make sure small errors don’t create huge consequences?

When Conelec tests your product, we check for existing errors and potential design flaws early on. We find testing to always be worthwhile, especially if quality long-term matters.

The biggest distractor from testing is obviously the extra cost. If you have a small production run, you may not be able to squeeze testing into the budget. In most cases, testing early on while save you money long-term. Optimizing vulnerable components early and making sure to adapt production in advance, will reduce rejection rate and defective products.

Think about testing as early as the design stage

During your design phase, thinking about the testability of your product should be an important focus. Using a “Design for Test” methodology, you can influence design and make sure you’ll meet test requirements early on. Something like setting additional test points and using push-down resistors on inputs and outputs.

Think about traceability and life cycles

Even if you’re just doing a prototype, you should be testing, ideally, for a product’s individual life cycle. A prototype strategy would be quite different from, say, a bigger volume run in the future.

Another factor would be determining which tests make sense for your product early on. Will it just be a functional test? Could it also be:

AOI (Automatic Optical Inspection)
AXI (Automated X-Ray Inspection)
ICT (In-Circuit Test)
Flying Probe Tests

When deciding which test will work best, having an in-depth knowledge like Conelec test engineers, will work in your favor for creating a thorough process for the future. Our methodology is to make everything easy for you. You imagine, you create and we manufacture it. Our test engineers will work with you to help explain and understand in detail our testing procedures.

During the process, you’ll have visibility to the whole production process (not just testing) and be able to calculate costs of testing and also assess potential risks.

Test now and enjoy peace-of-mind later.

To us, Everything Matters.

We put an enormous amount emphasis on individual testing strategies and providing our customers with our decades of experience in the process. We want to make sure that turnkey means turnkey. That means not just producing your amazing product, but making sure from manufacturing to shelf, your product is perfect.

How Six Sigma DPMO Works

by Conelec Team Conelec Team No Comments

So, you’ve been reading comparisons about other companies and looking to laser (etch) focus on which electronic manufacturer you’re going to use. Along the way, you’ve hit some reoccurring terms and would love clarity on them. Don’t worry! Monday Manufacturing Word Day is here. We’re working on a better title. Today, we’re going to discuss Six Sigma and why DPMO matters. To a lesser degree, we’ll dig into PPM, just for comparison purposes.

Six Sigma, in it’s most basic definition is a set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by greatly reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur. For someone like Conelec, we use it to analyze our manufacturing processes.

Six Sigma is about stable and predictable processes in our manufacturing. It allows for us to enhance customer satisfaction by not exhibiting excessive variations.

When everyone in a company commits to Six Sigma, sustained improvement can be see. We at Conelec are fully committed to it and our results show that.

Six Sigma is all about the emphasis on quantifiable results. If we were to break it down further into a methodology (phases):

Define
Here the problem solving team defines the problem in specific terms and creates the project charter.

Measure
Collection of existing process data, and/or the creation of new data collection methods.

Analyze
Examination of the data to determine the problem causes.

Improve
Determination of the steps to take to eliminate or minimize the problem at hand.

Control
Verification steps to ensure the gains achieved by the project can be sustained.

Defects per million opportunities (DPMO) is the average number of defects per unit observed during an average production run divided by the number of opportunities to make a defect on the product under study during that run normalized to one million.

DPMO or defects per million opportunities, has to be considered one of the most important six sigma metrics for electronic manufacturing. We use this value to determine how effective our manufacturing processes are. It’s also great for comparing processes.

While similar to PPM (parts per million), we find DPMO provides us with a much more detailed look at our process effectiveness. PPM considers each individual output an opportunity and can almost be considered the same as a first time pass percentage.

So, what’s the issue with PPM? PPM is unfairly weighted to high volume activities. Say you were doing a lower volume process – well, your processes would be decimated by a single reject.

Here’s a better way of looking at it. You create a blender and a pencil. I think we can agree that a blender has more parts, operations and processes being applied to it. In these cases, you use DPMO to allow you to evenly make judgments of the blender to the pencil on an even level..

Ultimately, Six Sigma comes down to a company as whole investing in a defined methodology to improve production. Since Motorola engineers decided to use Six Sigma to measure defects in the millions (versus previously thousands), they saw a cultural change that came with it. As well as huge savings to their bottom-line.

For your Electronic Manufacturing assembly, you’re going to want a company that defines its culture and defines i’s processes – because only then, can you rely on predictability and the expectation of exceeding your expectations.