How to select the right EMS partner for mass production

Here is a closer look at what you should expect from quality electronic manufacturing services

An EMS provider with design capabilities

Always select from among electronic contract manufacturing companies that have design services and capabilities. This means that they will have experts who can gain a full understanding of your product requirements and also foresee any problems when it comes to the actual printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).

If design problems are not taken care of before production, the result could be expensive and lead to extending your time to market and sometimes to the failure of your project. However, a contract manufacturer with an in-house design department can work with you to strengthen your drawings and designs, making it ready for mass production manufacturing.

The EMS Company should have an intellectual property services policy

Intellectual property is another important aspect of your product. The idea behind the design is what gives your product most of its value. A quality electronic manufacturing service provider will have an intellectual property services policy to help you protect your ideas, data, and designs, usually on secured servers and through product lifecycle management platforms.

Intellectual property protection can be a challenge in electronic contract manufacturing, particularly when dealing with off-shore manufacturers. You will want to find an EMS provider who can work on protecting your Intellectual Property in addition to providing EMS / PCBA services.

Your product’s story starts with prototyping

A prototype is not the only step in the product development process, but it is one of the most important. Without a successful prototype, you cannot move forward to pilot runs and ultimately to mass production. You need an electronic contract manufacturing company that is capable of putting effort and skills into supporting the manufacturing of an industrial grade prototype.

Since prototyping may require several iterations before success, your electronic manufacturing service provider should have the ability to support you during this stage of your project where reactivity is critical.

You, and also your selected EMS Company, must have an NPI (New Product Introduction) mindset in order to make sure the project will go smoothly once mass-production begins. You will want a partner that has an NPI mindset to make things happen quickly, efficiently and with world-class quality. Your EMS partner should be a solid financial partner. Competitive pricing on paper is important, yes. However, due diligence in selecting an EMS partner is important, as most OEM project teams have limited bandwidth and certainly do not want to invest time and resources in qualifying a new supplier only to discover the supplier is not financially sound.
It’s important that the electronic manufacturing services company you are ready to work with is financially sound and stable. You don’t want to start a project with an EMS service company that might be in the midst of a merger or acquisition, or that is having supply chain issues. This could lead you to the total failure of your product project.

Another important element to take into consideration is to find a partner that is transparent about its prices and costs for material or labour. You want to have the best price for your product, especially when you go into mass-production. The location you choose for manufacturing your product will impact your labour costs.

Electronic manufacturing services companies should work as your direct partner. There is never a one-size-fits-all solution, and tailoring its services to your needs should be a critical aspect of your partner’s philosophy.

Finally, the most important point to consider for mass production once your product manufacturing process is running properly is low-cost manufacturing geographies. To make nearshoring successful, you should choose a partner that has experience navigating the ins and outs of nearshoring as well as sharing the goal of manufacturing quality products in the most cost-effective manner. For Europe, high-quality production, low-cost labour and facilities, and geographical proximity are in North Africa. For example, Tunisia is a good location for supplying Europe. For North American companies, Tijuana, Mexico is an example of a location that offers close proximity to US logistics hubs, and electronic manufacturing services that are low priced, close by and culturally similar. Needless to say, China has earned a reputation for low-cost, high-value EMS companies and still is an excellent location when it comes to electronic manufacturing services, despite the longer delivery time, specifically when it involves hundreds of thousands of products per month.

To conclude, it is important to select a partner who would be able to support your requirements locally while at the same time offering the ability to transfer production seamlessly to another region whenever it makes sense financially (better cost) and logistically (shorter lead times to your end markets).

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