Dealing with Manufacturing Hurdles

by ADL Technology

With the impact of the pandemic across the globe, consumers and manufacturers are both feeling the pinch of the decreasing availability of products and services.  For example, I wanted to upgrade a bicycle sprocket set on my road bike and I received an estimate of approximately 500 days!   In the world of Electronic Manufacturing Services, the pinch is just as real.  These hurdles can affect lead times and the pricing of electronic components in nearly unfathomable ways.

  • Lead times have seen increases of sometimes 4 and 5 times from what they were, if you can even find the electronic component you are looking for.
  • The law of supply and demand has seen increases in component prices of 500% and more!

At ADL Technology, one of our solutions is to let our our customers know of possible component shortfalls.  This is more than just good business, it indicative of how we view our work as a partnership. We take the time to:

  • review a customers’ Bill of Materials to identify components that are potentially at risk
  • make our customers aware of any potential issues

This project-specific component research allows our customers to review their sales forecast and manufacturing requirements.  The company can then determine if an early buy of the assembly or at-risk component should be considered.  This can save time, money and frustration for components with long lead times or anticipated shortages.  While some EMS providers or brokers have gobbled up parts, there is an argument both financial and ethical for doing this selectively.  For the purpose of this article, we as electronic manufacturers have a great opportunity to be the “partner” we truly want to be through with research and strategic planning  for specific projects. By taking a little extra time on the customer’s behalf and thinking as we should as if were on the staff of the company, we can smooth out the sales cycle.  Considering things from our partner/clients perspective makes for happier customers and less hair pulling moments for our production managers!

There are still hurdles to cross, but ingenuity, hard/smart work, and the will to “return to normal” will result in back to normal behaviors.

Let’s continue to do our part and see success for all.

 

Bird’s-eye View of Our Columbus, Ohio Manufacturing Facility

by ADL Technology

Enjoy a bird’s-eye view of our Columbus, Ohio manufacturing facility! ADL Technology specializes in designing and building printed circuit board assemblies. If you’re looking to reshore your PCB assembly work, contact us today!

Why Reshoring Better Supports Your Supply Chain

Manufacturing companies are facing significant problems due to supply chain disruptions.  While off-shoring components for a final product may have seemed like good business a few years ago, the environment has changed. Many companies are reviewing TCO (total cost of ownership) and the relevant calculations in light of the current business/manufacturing environment.

Calculating TCO

TCO should include more than wages and raw materials.   For accuracy, these calculations must include information about:

  • Operations Costs; e.g. delivery lead time, delivery costs, level/quality of customer support, quality/warranty of component, ability to change a component based on evolving product requirements
  • Risk mitigation: intellectual property control, regulatory compliance, tariffs, current labor costs overseas, lost orders due to delays

Additional Advantages of Working with ADL Technology

In addition to attaching real data to the elements above, working with ADL  should provide you with opportunities to

  • have better control over your inventory levels
  • take advantage of NET payments vs pay upon shipment
  • take advantage of tax initiatives

ADL Technology’s OHIO facility manufacturers the following electronic components:

  • PC Boards and Assemblies
  • Box Builds and Control Panels
  • Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies

ADL fills in the gaps in capability for our customers from concept to delivery. We provide collaborative feedback on engineering design and prototypes. Unlike an offshore company, you will work directly with our production team to reduce cost and improve throughput for your product.  Whether it is a prototype or ready for manufacturing, we work with you to provide feedback to make sure the product meets your specifications.

We provide manufacturing quotes and design proposals at no cost allowing your to leverage our large-company capabilities while still enjoying our small-company feel.
Unlike offshore options your never have to worry about IP, your design source files belong to you, even if we create them as part of an engineering design project.

Contact Us Today

 

Partnerships, an enlightened approach to working with clients

by ADL Technology

Looking for a partner (instead of just a vendor) for your next project ? Contact ADL for your next PCB project or to reshore a current job.

Often we speak of “the voice of the customer.”  This is crucial to understanding their needs and building a trusted relationship. A pillar of our company’s philosophy is “partnership;” I would like to share a success story of our team listening to the customer and exceeding their expectations.

In spite of the highly competitive environment of printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) manufacturing, and the trend of many American companies to offshore their electronics assembly work, ADL has found a compelling and mutually beneficial strategy – partnership.

By aggressively seeking out and educating our customers in the Industrial and Lighting markets, among others, we have differentiated ourselves from our competitors as a reliable manufacturing partner.  We have also focused on those companies who are considering reshoring PCBA manufacturing; making the case that a total cost of ownership (TCO) assessment may favor returning the supply chain to the U.S., and specifically, to ADL.

A case in point is our newest customer, a world leader in unique illumination applications.  Previously relying on offshore sources for LEDs and light engines, they recognized that they were burdened by poor product quality, a volatile supply chain, communication difficulties, and a lack of innovative collaboration.

ADL Technology solved all of these problems.  Using a key pillar of our business model, partnership, we were able to provide credible design assistance from the outset, making recommendations to improve the manufacturability and performance of their product line.  Their Senior Director of Technical Operations said,

“Appreciate your team’s support with our efforts to onshore our PCBA manufacturing to simplify our supply chain without upsetting the economic value proposition of our product.  Also appreciate how your team was able to jump in and provide support and solutions for improving the reliability of our controller design while minimizing the delay in getting it into production.”

And their CFO had this to say:

“Partnering with professionalism and a sense of urgency to deliver results to our customers!  I like it!”

What began in August 2020 as an opportunity to quote PCB assemblies for a customer in one of our key business areas has evolved into a full-fledged engineering partnership. As a result of the trust we’ve built, we’ve advanced the relationship by earning an engineering contract and are beginning discussions to assemble their final product.

Selecting the Right Electronic Manufacturing Services

by ADL Technology

Making sure you pick the right electronic manufacturing service (EMS). Learn about their capabilities and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Important decisions require critical thinking.  Whether it’s buying the perfect new car or hiring the right employee; taking the time to carefully weigh the options will increase your chance of obtaining maximum value.  With that in mind, here are two critical areas for you to consider when selecting the right Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider.

Manufacturer Capabilities

Capabilities in the electronic manufacturing services industry vary widely; so be specific as to what you will be asking of your provider. Some EMS providers are small independent shops that focus on basic electronics support and can only supply a limited amount of PCB assemblies in low quantities i.e., low mix/low volume.  Others companies are large, multinational manufacturers that can offer any technology, supply consumer-level volumes, and have a greater depth of capabilities beyond basic builds.  While their extensive capabilities and high mix/high volume profile may be appealing, be cautious; they may cater to more established big business entities. Most Electronic manufacturers will fall somewhere in between.

What are you certification requirements?

Does your product require any agency certifications?  These certifications may be necessary for some Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) such as those in the automotive  or defense industries.  Be wary of selecting an EMS provider that carries many high-end certs if you don’t require them because you will be sharing the cost burden of maintaining them.

Interview Potential Suppliers

Before you complete the paperwork, here are some other questions to consider.

  1. How diverse is the supplier’s product portfolio?
  2. How difficult is your PCBA technology to assemble?
  3. Do you need value-add services like engineering support, test fixture design, PCBA coating or wire harnesses?
  4. What level of turnkey process is right for you?

Having a precise understanding of your needs will lead you to ask the right questions of prospective EMS providers and will ultimately help you choose the best manufacturer for your needs.

Look for More Than a Vendor

Don’t think of your electronic manufacturing service provider as just a vendor. Think of them as your partner. Building a relationship with an EMS provider can take time. You will likely find yourself asking things of them that you would not ask of a traditional vendor. Look for an EMS who can provide

  • depth of technical support
  • coordinated effort with their Design For Manufacturing (DFM) engineering experience
  • extensive experience in parts procurement

and in the case of ADL

  • an Electronic Design and Engineering group.

Completing your due diligence at the front end will save you headache and hassle in the long run. Go beyond the sales guy who will get the relationship started. Meet the management and engineering teams and tour the facility. Getting to know more about their operation may provide a subjective assessment of the business, but you can still learn a lot from a handshake!

Ask yourself, “Are these the guys I can work with for this project, for a year, about and 5 years and beyond?”  In other words, “is this a company that will support my company’s growth?”

ADL Technology’s Best Advice

Our best advice…shop around. On the surface, it may seem that many electronic manufacturing services offer similar capabilities. But when you consider who can best meet your

  • technical objectives
  • delivery times
  • quality standards

all while being responsive to your needs, only a select few will emerge as ideal partners for your business.

Looking for a partner for your next project?

ADL Technology is a US based PC Board manufacturer located in Columbus Ohio.  We offer a full range of services from design work to production runs.  Contact us today!

Getting to the bottom of Printed Circuit Boards

by ADL Technology

Printed Circuit Boards Are Found Everywhere

PC Boards Ready to be incorporated into other products

Originally found only in devices that are obviously “electronic” in nature – computers, stereos, and the like – PCB assemblies can now be found just about everywhere. We all carry a handful of PCB assemblies in our pockets each day, such as those that are embedded in our cell phones. Countless medical, consumer, military, security and industrial products contain PCB assemblies, and often,Printed Circuit Boards Starts with Picking the Correct Substrate

When most people look at a printed circuit board, they focus on the components soldered to it. (“Look how many there are! They’re so tiny!”) But the PCB assembly process really begins with the selection of the correct bare board material, the substrate. The substrate is the material that holds the copper traces and electrical components; it is the foundation of the PCB assembly. The correct PCB substrate is determined by the end application. Different substrates have different properties that can affect the functionality of the finished product. The challenge for today’s engineer is selecting the proper substrate for the application, taking into consideration the requirements of their final product.

Common PCB Substrates

The most common type of printed circuit board material is FR4. FR4 is a fiberglass cloth material bound together with epoxy. It is rigid, durable, flame-resistant, and easy to assemble and rework. It comes in many different thicknesses, the most common being 0.062″. It can contain many copper layers; these layers are typically added in pairs.

Image courtesy of BitWeenie

FLEX PCBs

Increasingly, small devices, wearable devices, and uniquely-shaped devices are calling for a flexible PCB material. “Flex PCBs” can be made from FR4, polyimide, and other materials. These PCBs are more difficult to process, as their flexibility makes it difficult to place PCB components accurately – typically, a rigid carrier is required. However, some applications need their inherent flexibility to make the most use of limited space.

Rigid Flex” PCBs

Rigid and flexible materials can be combined to create “rigid flex” PCBs. These are more expensive and difficult to process, but they can also eliminate the need for wire harnesses and connectors in applications with very limited space.

Aluminum-based PCBs

And for those circuits that generate a lot of heat, aluminum-based PCBs may be the right solution. These PCBs consist of an aluminum base and a copper tracing layer separated by a thin, thermally conductive dielectric layer. Metal core PCBs are great for pulling heat out of high-power LEDs, MOSFETs, or other high-wattage components. However, they come at a premium price, and can be very difficult to rework.

PCB’s for your next Project

What is your next project, and what kind of PCB do you need? Our engineers can work with you to determine what substrate meets your product’s specifications. Or do you already have a board design, and are simply looking for a manufacturer? In either case, ADL will be happy to work with you to build quality PCB boards that meet your products specifications.

Contact us today!

Smart Carts Controlled by Smart Boards

by ADL Technology

PCBAs being prepared for coating.

Using PCBs to Extend Functionality

Printed circuit boards are increasingly found in unexpected places.  With a little creativity on the part of an OEM, the potential to enhance an existing product line with the addition of electronics is unlimited and can expand the functionality to support better tracking, productivity and security.  If you’re thinking of adding electronics to your product, we can help guide you through the PCB design process, and manufacture it for you, as well.

At ADL, we design and build PCB assemblies (PCBAs) that come in all shapes and sizes. These PCBAs can range in size from a thumbnail to a clipboard, and add functionality such as wireless connectivity, environmental sensing, LED lighting, and a host of other features.  If you need help with final product assembly, we can support you there, as well.

ADL supports wave solder, selective solder, and hand solder processes.

PC Boards for Smart Medical Carts

One of our more challenging projects was a collaborative effort to design a PCB for a customer who builds carts that control and track the distribution of medicines in hospitals and nursing homes.  The PCB serves as the brain for the cart, which includes an integrated monitor, keyboard, locking system, and keyless card-swipe access.  Software on the board allows medical professionals to track and dispense a wide variety of medications and supplies.  This moveable station not only keeps critical medical supplies safe, but it also provides support for electronic record-keeping.

Inventory Control and Asset Tracking for Any Industry

While it is proving to be a valuable asset to medical providers, the application of this technology has great potential beyond the healthcare industry.  It could be adapted to any environment where items need to be carefully tracked and distributed due to their high cost, small size, risk of theft, or need to be tightly controlled for legal reasons.

Most of our customers require “mixed technology” boards – those that contain both through-hole and surface-mounted components.

Applications of smart distribution systems could include:

  • Personal protective equipment
  • Work-related tools and equipment
  • Food and beverage vending
  • Electronics vending
  • Manufacturing components

Inventory control is a rapidly evolving space where electronics can help companies provide cost-effective ways of tracking items.  How might your product be enhanced by the addition of electronics?

Contact us today!

Use our online form or call us: (614) 345-9040.

Supply Chain Resilience

by ADL Technology

queuing theory and supply chainsIf you have ever been caught in a highway traffic jam after an accident you know that traffic doesn’t clear up immediately. Supply Chain and Operations explain this effect using Queuing Theory.  Queuing Theory tells us that slowdowns will persist, and secondary reactions will occur complicating manufacturing for some time.   COVID-19 is likely to be a “complicating issue” for at least 1-2 years. Manufacturers looking to survive, even thrive, in the current business climate need to make their supply chains resilient and secure.

One way to ensure supply chain resilience is by securing your supply chain through “reshoring”.  ADL technology, located near Columbus Ohio, is a contract manufacturer of printed circuit board assemblies and final products, assembled to your specifications. We also provide prototype and electronic design services to support new projects or the evolution of your current products. Our preferred bare boards are sourced from US partners, further reducing supply chain complexity and risk. Reshoring with ADL often provides total cost of ownership savings.   Studies have shown that 40-50% (depending on tariffs) of current work can be reshored profitably1.  In addition to lowering costs, reshoring reduces risk, speeds delivery and supports US manufacturers.

Off-shored items are becoming “stuck in traffic” due to issues relating:

  • Skilled labor shortages
  • Movement of raw materials to build sub-components
  • Shipping issues of finished sub-components
  • Long supply chains that create risk, add unnecessary cost, and provide a lack of resiliency

Reshoring to the United States reduces risk, saves money and supports U.S. industry. Contact ADL to learn how we can partner with you to build the components that your company needs.  We support industrial and OEM in a variety of markets including lighting, sensing, power supplies to controls.

  1. Leanshoring TMRevitalizing Domestic Supply Chains and Advanced Manufacturing Capabilities (link to Full Article)

It’s Only Common Sense…The World Will Never Be the Same

by ADL Technology

The following is a transcript of an podcast by Dan Beaulieu.  It was published on April 6th, 2020.

Over the past few weeks, we have been writing about how to keep business as usual in these unusual times:

  • how to market your company
  • how to make sales calls
  • how to sell your products

all while not being able to be in front of your customers. I have also offered a plan called Business as Usual: Selling without visiting customers which is available for anyone who wants one (see information at the end of this column). One of the things we talk about in this plan is to be prepared for the world as it will look once this great danger has subsided. I thought about this so much that I decided to take a shot at what the world will look like on the other side of the Coronavirus, or Covid 19 as the Corona Beer people would prefer, we call it. (sorry you gotta smile once in a while).

And after doing some research, and some visioning, here is what I have come up with:

Life after Covid 19

  • More people will work from home. The way we work will be now shaped and changed forever as people find that many of them can work at home much more easily, and effectively, than in a building with other people. This is something, I found out years ago when we started the consulting business. It’s amazing how much you can get done on your own schedule, working when you want, not having to attend someone else’s meaningless meetings and not having to put up with the guy who wants to go last night’s episode of Game of thrones for an hour every week. Thank you Zoom and Go to meeting and all the other meeting services we can use.
  • Shopping. Our shopping habits will change, converting even more people to online shopping as more and more people are now forced to do it and novices are forced to learn how to do it. The transition to online shopping will be complete. This means that retail stores will have to become more engaging and valuable or die. Advice to retail stores, visit an APPLE store and see how you can do it to thrive.
  • Movies.  The way we watch movies will change drastically as even now movie studios are already offering first run movies for streaming, now that the movie theatres are closed. For about twenty dollars you can stream a brand-new movie in your home. Related to this, other streaming services are already taking off like a shot, as people turn to them for entertainment in their locked-down houses. This means the competition will increase and we will benefit by being able to watch even better films in the future.
  • Universal healthcare. People will want more universal healthcare now that they see what life without it in a pandemic can be like, expect the arguments against it to wane and universal healthcare become a priority.
  • Stockpiling. Learning from the shortages we have faced; we can expect stockpiling of everything from medical face masks, to ventilators, to toilet paper. I cannot imagine any household not having a year’s worth of toilet paper in storage after this is all over. It is amazing to me how people grew so panicky about toilet paper, and Purell, and soap and water and everything else they could not find when they wanted it in the grocery stores. We as Americans are not used to not having what we want when we want it!
  • Respect for medical research. I hope that people will come to appreciate science, and medical research and what it can do for us. The fact that hospitals can be erected in a matter of days, or that a vaccine for a virus can be discovered in a matter of months cannot help but amaze us and make us respect this scientist more now than ever.
  • More onshoring. As we realize that yes, we went too far in turning over entire industries to China, being happy to let them build anything, as long as we got it more cheaply. Having no regards whatsoever for the damage we were doing to our own domestic infrastructures. Hopefully we learn a lesson, that yes although we are in a global economy, we still need to protect our own domestic companies and keep them not only solvent, but profitable for the long term. This should ring loud and clear to the big OEMs like Motorola and Cisco and Intel and Apple and many others who so gleefully skipped over to Asia with their new products, products developed here in the U.S. for the sake of their own bottom line. Let’s remember when we complain about China, that the Chinese did not come over here and take our technology, and our business, we went over there and happily handed it over to them, so that we could buy a DVD player for $29.99 instead of $69.99… maybe now we’ll tend to ask ourselves was it really worth it?
  • We will be a better country. Of this I have not doubt– we are Americans after all, in the end we believe with everything that we are made of, that we will find a way. Just as we have always done, we will come out of this crisis for the better in all ways. That history tells us is something you can count on. It’s only common sense.

For a copy of D.B. Management’s Business as Usual: Selling without visiting customers Contact me at 207-649-0879 or email me at danbbeaulieu@aol.com

While this blog written from a more general point of view it is a valuable exercise to explore how these points will affect business in general and manufacturing in particular.

Companies that manufacture products such as PC boards and electronic assemblies understand how valuable of face-to-face meetings are because the they provide opportunities to:

  • demonstrate capabilities
  • review/revise design schema for current projects in a collaborative environment
  • demonstrate prototypes

With many folks working from home, these things are difficult but not impossible to do.  Even when the current restrictions on travel and group gatherings ease, many companies will need to improve their online meeting capabilities to provide a way to hold meetings in person.

Another great example is stockpiling.  Companies that have mission critical parts may seek larger orders to protect against future shut-downs or transport challenges.  Stockpiling may also provide new opportunities for parts that companies cannot obtain from their regular sources.

Last, but not least, is onshoring aka re-shoring.  Many companies shipped components overseas to areas like China which is still recovering from the effects of COVID-19.  These effects will undoubtedly provide American companies with opportunities to provide components as the cost of ownership is re-balanced by supply chain imperatives.

Visit us at Design-2-Part Indianapolis!

by ADL Technology

Visit the ADL Technology booth (#507) at Design-2-Part in Indianapolis. Meet Nick Klein, ADL’s Electronic Design Engineering Manager

Come and visit us at the Design-2-Part show.  The show is being held:

  • at the Convention Center in Indianapolis, IN
  • on the 6th and 7th of November 2019

Stop by our booth, #507, to learn more about our capabilities or to schedule an individual session for a deeper dive into your contract manufacturing and design requirements.  We would be happy to discuss Printed Circuit Board Assemblies (both surface mount and through hole) and the contract manufacturing process.  We will share with you how we can leverage our many capabilities to build your products. Talk with our Director of Sales, Rick Drogowski and Electronics Design Engineering Manager, Nick Klein.

Bring your products, ideas, and challenges. We welcome the opportunity to talk about your specific manufacturing and electronic design considerations.  At the very least, stop by for some candy so we don’t have to eat it all ourselves!

Use the form below to request a one-on-one meeting.

    What day works best with your schedule?

    What time of day works best?