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Exploring the world of low volume PCB assembly

by AnthonyJarmie

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Not all organizations such as OEMs have large electronic assembly needs. The small clients, for instance, learning and research institutions are examples of organization that have low volume PCB assembly requirements which arise from students’ projects and learning equipment. Small scale circuit board assembly also arises from prototyping needs.

With many companies which deal with electronics assembly focusing their services on medium to large scale needs i.e. anything above 1000 boards, the small client who requires only one or two boards is left out or has to pay hefty amounts for the same service. However, all is not lost as there are some electronic contract manufacturing companies (ECM) that have noticed this market niche and have outdone themselves to meet and exceed these clients’ unique needs.

For a company to be able to offer low volume PCB assembly services it needs to structure its operations so as to realize time and cost-effective operations. This involves plenty of continuous reevaluation of procedures and amending them so as to be able to address the needs of every customer looking to procure the company’s services. The process of electronics assembly in most cases starts at prototyping and as such circuit board assembly service firms should be prepared to expect this need from customers that come their way. They should also realize that prototyping does not always culminate in large volume works and thus the need to prepare for the volumes that result after the job.

Further, in providing low volume PCB assembly services effectively a company needs to look at the job at hand (not necessarily prototyping) differently, and in this case not as a job of less importance than large volume orders. Companies should also strive to be able to issue instant quotes based on the job at hand and not rates which are somewhat predictive of the future jobs that may ensue. Customer satisfaction largely depends on the quality control measures which have been in place, and the firm dealing in low volume electronics assembly needs the appropriate surface mount or through-hole assembly testing measures which include but are not limited to x-ray inspection, in-circuit test, automated optical inspection and functional testing.

For the low volume PCB assembly job at hand the electronics assembly company should have access to all the necessary information appertaining to part identification, testing requirements, lead time, sales history, and engineering documentation. This helps to expedite operations in an electronic field where keeping time is everything.

In conclusion, companies claiming to offer low volume PCB assembly should be in a position to comprehensively accept virtually all small work orders that customers may have.


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