The undoubted importance of printed circuit boards in electronics is an apparent and well-known quantity among diverse sectors in the world. As a result, the manufacturing and assembly of PCBs become a pivotal aspect for most startups and small businesses in the electronics sector. But the assembly of printed circuit boards can prove overwhelming to small companies. It may need the commitment of resources such as labor, time, and money into assembling PCBs, which may strain their operations. It is no surprise that these companies turn to turnkey PCB assembly services from electronic contract manufacturers and assemblers.
But what is turnkey PCB assembly? How does it help electronic consumers of diverse sectors? Do not worry; the article will cover everything you need to know about this subject.
Turnkey PCB Assembly: What it means
The printed circuit board assembly process can at times run into headwinds owing to specific challenges. It can include sorting out and maintaining large inventory volumes besides committing an almost non-existent in-house team to deal with the assembly. Because of this, most electronic startups and small businesses prefer turnkey PCB assembly services.
Turnkey PCB assembly refers to a type of electronic assembly service. It provides a cost-effective and efficient means of developing and testing electronic circuit boards for fresh products. Turnkey PCB assembly also has the shortest possible lead times. The term “Turnkey” denotes a service or product that is ready for deployment by the buyer.
In PCB assembly terms, however, turnkey assembly implies a service that sees the supplier handling everything related to the project on behalf of the consumer. It includes the procurement of components and parts besides assembling the printed circuit board. The process typically utilizes cloud-based software besides powerful machinery to assemble the circuit boards. It accomplishes this efficiently and at higher volumes compared to medium and small businesses.
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Benefits Accruing from Turnkey Assembly
An obvious advantage of turnkey printed circuit board assembly entails businesses taking their focus off PCB assembly. Such focus instead gets redirected to other critical processes such as constant innovation. You do not need to spend energy and time finding ideal component costs or going through the frustrating procurement process. However, the most noteworthy benefits include the following.
One major cost-saving and time benefit of a turnkey printed circuit board is the capability of spotting potential issues before the board gets deployed for application. A necessary aspect of the procedure entails submitting a netlist to the assembly company. It is upon the assembler to check and ensure the specs match the intended application before assembly. Additionally, they have to spot any present errors. Such errors need to get corrected upon identification, especially on the printed circuit board design. If an error does not get corrected, it can cumulate and ensure you end up with thousands of inapt circuit boards.
Most turnkey contracts have no additional costs when it comes to delivering the consignment to the assembly company. Additionally, most assembly partners have established and decent working relationships with most component manufacturers. It helps drive down the cost of sourcing for these electronic parts compared to medium and small businesses.
It is always a stressful process when dealing with numerous vendors, especially for small businesses. You spend a lot of time, and you also have to use a limited human resource pool. Therefore, a turnkey PCB assembly solution reduces the possibility of experiencing miscommunication between you and the vendor. It also reduces miscommunications between vendors to avoid derailing your timeline or waste any money.
Most turnkey suppliers will possibly give you one contact point to conduct all business aspects. It helps in keeping you calm (mind-wise) besides lightening the management burden of the PCB assembly.
Plenty of the traditional manufacturing approaches are insensitive to time. As a result, designers have to wait for extended weeks to get cost estimates on their PCB assembly orders. But the onset of turnkey assembly services has proved a game-changer. Customers can now know their assembly order costs immediately after uploading their bill of materials (BOM) files on RayMing PCB and Assembly portal or any other turnkey PCB company of their choice.
Any PCB designer will tell you of the expensive and typically slow process of developing the first PCB prototype. Critical factors like PCB components or parts and materials getting out-of-stock can become problematic in hampering your PCB project’s lead times. It also gets complicated further by trying to manage numerous suppliers simultaneously. But turnkey printed circuit board assembly solutions change the game. It allows you to access prototype services at low-cost prices and rapidly from different turnkey prototype PCB companies.
A full turnkey assembly service takes into account the whole assembly process, including component sourcing. As a result, you can, in turn, focus on other business aspects without worrying about managing diverse suppliers. It eliminates delays, miscommunication, disappointment, and frustrations resulting from the printed circuit board assembly process.
Online Tracking, Ordering, and Reporting
Most turnkey PCB assembly companies have online portals that streamline service provision to customers and potential clients. Such services include tracking and ordering in realizing a quick-turn to full turnkey assembly services that are also affordable. It is also possible to check your printed circuit board assembly project’s progress in real-time through a simple log-in process into the portal. If your project has neared completion, a notification email or call alert gets sent to you.
Flexible Assembling Capabilities for Printed Circuit Board
Most PCB assembling companies like ACME PCB Assembly or RayMing PCB and Assembly have state-of-the-art facilities that are sufficiently flexible to handle all orders—for instance, combining small orders to big runs. Such companies also assemble your components and materials at low costs. Consequently, as a customer, you get to enjoy the flexibility of using their services as they focus on growing their businesses.
Inventory, Product Assembly, and Shipping Services
Full turnkey assembly services can encompass shipping and component sourcing services. Therefore, most turnkey PCB assembly entities will ensure that you source for components, review your PCBA inventory, and complete complex PCBA orders from your home’s comfort. The procurement departments in PCBA companies exist to take care of your ERP requirements.
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Full Turnkey vs. Partial Turnkey
Turnkey printed circuit board assembly is of two types: full turnkey and partial turnkey services. Full turnkey encompasses the assembly provider carrying out all the work of assembling the printed circuit boards. It involves sourcing the components and developing the PCB order. As an electronics consumer, all you need to do entails providing a BOM (bill of materials), product dimensions, Gerber files, and shipping and packaging information. A full turnkey PCB assembly service represents something akin to investment compared to a partial turnkey service. It also dramatically enhances your PCB acquiring experience, especially when you are still a novice at dealing with electronic circuit boards.
Partial turnkey PCB services, on the other hand, is a consignment manufacturing form that features only a part of the PCB assembly process getting outsourced. For instance, partial turnkey PCB projects feature the tech developer retaining the responsibility for a supply chain segment. It can imply involvement in buying or assembly. In most instances, it features the consignment model having the technology developer taking charge of obtaining, packaging, and sorting materials for eventual delivery to the assembly company.
For those businesses with a bulk of the essential components or parts on hand, it (turnkey services) has the potential of expediting the production process besides saving you money. But in the absence of components or parts and inability to determine with certainty where to source for the right components, full turnkey services might prove more beneficial.
Full Turnkey PCB Assembly
The idea of obtaining a full turnkey service can prove appealing, especially as a small business. In this case, it may often prove that your needs can get better served by box build assembly. Box build assembly refers to a service specializing in performing other essential assembly processes than the PCB assembly itself. It is sometimes referred to as system integration and completes the remaining steps between the printed circuit board assembly and the delivery of the ultimate electronic product.
For instance, the steps covered in the box build assembly can infer a simple placement of the assembled electronic circuit in its enclosure. However, it can also encompass complex processes like connecting the printed circuit board assembly to a user interface. Some of the other significant box build assembly work include aspects like:
- Design and installation of sub-assembly components
- Sourcing for and the installation of wiring and cable harnesses
- Loading the applicable software
- Packaging all the assembled components or parts in their corresponding custom enclosures
- Packaging PCBAs and labeling them
- Configuring systems
Such electromechanical assembly processes need dedicated and experienced staff, sufficient production space, and specialized equipment. Only a few small-scale companies or businesses have that kind of resources available to them. Additionally, a critical service that box build assembly comes with encompasses testing and inspection of market-ready boards. Testing is a component of the QMS (quality management system) registered as ISO 9001. It ensures that the testing process proves as rigorous and recent as possible. Consequently, you should not worry much about potential and expensive electronic product failures besides the consequences of the extension to your timeline (project-wise).
Full Turnkey PCB Assembly Solutions
- Component Sourcing
All turnkey PCB assembly companies that specialize in full turnkey assembly offer services in sourcing for components on their customer’s behalf. For instance, if you have a critical PCBA project that proves low-volume, like prototyping, you can rely on the in-house printed circuit board products and components that the assembler has. The PCB assembly partner sources these components from your preferred and reputable supplier, especially in the absence of such electronic components. It helps reduce the chances of getting counterfeit electronic components.
- Fabricating the Surface-Mount Technology Stencils
It is always advisable to indicate if you need an SMT stencil in your full turnkey PCBA quote. Most of the top full turnkey PCBA companies have state-of-the-art assembly facilities that accept diverse types of stencils. A lot of the stencils get fabricated in-house through a contemporary laser technique. Coupled with years of experience fabricating and designing stencils, you can always trust the quality of their assembly services. What is more? Any failure, if at all, leads to replacements at no cost.
Partial Turnkey PCB Assembly Solutions
The nature of partial turnkey assembly services by PCB companies makes it necessary for the PCB assembly company to seek the customer’s approval on different PCBA aspects. It includes components’ prices, their availability, and quality before beginning the assembly process. Many original electronic manufacturers and other customers favor partial turnkey assembly for their printed circuit board needs because of the following reasons.
- It is a PCB assembly type that helps in striking a decent balance between turnkey and kitted assemblies.
- A PCBA customer provides costly parts like integrated circuits (ICs), connectors, etc., to allow the printed circuit board assembly company to source for the other components. As a result, it saves on time for all parties.
- It comes in handy in instances where the customer has developed sturdy supply chain links with suppliers. Here, the customer benefits from price discounts on components or parts that the supplier provides.
- The assembly preparation and process are quicker compared to a full turnkey PCB assembly.
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How to Enhance Your Production by Embracing Turnkey PCB Assembly
The need to enhance electronics businesses’ production levels and profitability linger in every small, medium, and large-scale company. Whether you are in the communications, medical, industrial, IoT, bio-robotics, or navigation system sectors, you need to cut on costs, enhance efficiency, and increase the production and sales of your electronic products.
Most companies, therefore, entrust their custom PCB assembly needs to solutions providers with reputable track records. But whether you want a partial or full turnkey PCB assembly service – either for your lead-free PCBs, double or single-sided PCBs, or flex, rigid, or rigid-flex PCBs, your choice matters.
A top turnkey PCB assembly company can prove a game-changer when it comes to assembling your printed circuit boards. But many turnkey PCB assembly companies exist, and picking a suitable and top option can prove an arduous task. What, therefore, should you take into account when choosing a PCB turnkey assembly partner?
If a turnkey PCB assembly partner can provide you with the following solutions, you can rest assured that it is a top capable assembler.
Conduct Comprehensive Prototyping
A top turnkey PCB assembly provider needs to perform comprehensive prototyping. Prototyping proves crucial in the finalization of your PCBA design. It also offers assurances of the functional fineness of your printed circuit board. Prototyping especially becomes vital when handling the assembly of complex designs.
Integrate Hardware and Software
While most turnkey printed circuit board assemblers solely provide PCBA hardware assembly services, an incredible one should also provide a software solution if the assembly partner offers both solutions simultaneously. The assembled products function without hitches.
Offer Useful After-Sales Services
It is always instrumental in getting solutions for problems you encounter with your printed circuit board. Therefore, it demonstrates their capacity if an assembly company can answer all your questions besides solving your assembly PCB problems. Additionally, the relationship between you and your assembly company needs to continue to post the delivery of your printed circuit board assemblies. If a turnkey PCB assembler stops communicating after delivering your PCBA products, you have to reconsider.
The turnkey PCB assembly partner should have the capacity to accommodate your circuit board assembly requirements. It means that the company should possess the required technical expertise, technology, and machinery to assemble your PCBs with finesse. It will ensure that the value addition level is high and demonstrate the assembly partner’s dedication – working beyond PCB assembly and enhancing the value of your PCBA product.
Steps of Finding an Ideal Turnkey PCB Assembly Company
Know your Needs
The initial step of getting yourself a suitable turnkey PCBA partner entails understanding your specific PCB assembly project’s needs. Comprehend aspects of the technology required for your PCB (it can include either through-hole or surface-mount technology approaches). It should also have the PCB size as not every assembly company can handle specific board sizes. How fast you want your PCBA product, your budget, and your regulatory requirements also need consideration. Other considerations need to center on the quantities required, extra support provided, and finish level (whether you need box build or printed circuit board assemblies).
Conduct Research on Capabilities and Experience of PCBA Companies
After establishing your PCBA needs, it is now time to focus on researching potential PCBA companies. It is easy to research nowadays because of the internet. Searches online should encompass three to five probable PCB assembly companies. After that, you should compare to determine the company with the most experience and capability.
Some of the critical questions to ask should ask yourself entails:
- If the manufacturer possesses any experience in your specific industry
- How long the company has operated
- Other services that the company provides besides turnkey assembly of PCBs
- What types of board sizes the company works with
- The kinds of technologies the PCBA company has experience in (through-hole, surface-mount, or both)
- Whether the PCBA company has the necessary equipment and machinery necessary for executing the assembly process.
- Determine whether the PCBA company outsources the assembly services
Look Closely At the Testing and Quality Assurance Approaches
Regulatory compliance and product quality are crucial elements to look for in the PCBA end product. Therefore, ensure that the PCBA Company has the correct control and testing measures. It can include the QMS ISO 9001 certification, UL certification, etc., and other extra certifications based on your application industry.
Determine How Fast You Can Get Your PCBA Delivery
The time-to-market aspect is a crucial strategy component for any PCBA dealer. It influences your competitiveness and success. Speed, however, can get affected by the following.
Design complexity, where the extra complex assembly takes longer to assemble compared to less complex assemblies. Additionally, not everyone can assemble complex PCBs, especially when it comes to equipment. It is therefore vital to ask the correct questions on their (assembly company) capacity.
The needed quantity is also a fundamental aspect in determining how quickly your PCBA products are delivered.
Logistics, location, and supplier capabilities also play a pivotal role and are worth your consideration.
Ensure the Customer Support and Reviews are Correct
It is always pivotal to transcend the information displayed on company websites and check the customer experiences. However, it needs to come from real customers and range from customer support, quality, and customer service. You can rely on other customer’s opinions by checking different sites like social media, their website, etc. Determine whether a single contact point exists in the company to direct all your inquiries. Lastly, review processes entailed in their project management and determine whether they are straightforward and transparent.
Obtain Quotes before Finalizing your Comparisons
The next step involves getting quotes of the narrowed-down and final list of potential PCBA companies. Analyze the quotes in relation to your budget and the quality of the assembly services. Other factors to consider should include speed, location, MOQ requirements, reputation, and shipping.
Select a Suitable PCBA Company for your Project
After completing your background check, it is time to pick a suitable printed circuit board assembly company from the shortlisted options. You, however, need to know what the process entails besides all the requirements to make it successful.
Turnkey PCB Assembly is a service that most industry players in diverse sectors depend on. As the non-initiated, it is pivotal to understand the various aspects of turnkey PCB assembly, types, and processes involved. Additionally, picking a suitable and top assembly partner can prove the difference. However, the rider to everything involving turnkey PCB assembly entails its benefits to the consumer. Pick an appropriate PCBA company for your PCBA needs today and start enjoying the benefits.