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76 PCB007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2018 customer. Keep in mind that the equation gets more complicated when working with an off- shore supplier because the communication channel must bridge time-zone and language challenges. 2. Collaboration Before selecting a global PCB supplier, it's important to understand if the company has the internal capability and strategy align- ment to make the relationship a success. Un- der-investing in this due diligence is one of the top reasons supplier collaborations fail. The right supplier needs to have the capabil- ity to meet the customers' current technolog- ical needs, and the ability to anticipate and develop additional technology to meet future needs. One benefit of strong supplier/custom- er collaboration is the understanding of what the PCBs supplied will be used for and what causes problems in the final product. Going back to the earlier point of communication, another key benefit of collaboration is the re - duction of quality issues due to early design engagement. Perhaps the most important ben- efit of collaboration for the customer is cost re- duction. Design for manufacturability (DFM), alternate material suggestions, and minimiz- ing over-engineered designs will result in hard savings and avoided delivery delays. 3. Credibility PCB manufacturing is engineering inten- sive and requires operational process excel- lence. One thing to look for is strong engineer- ing expertise and a solid industry reputation for product quality in the technology you are going to be placing with the supplier. A prov- en track record on delivery, quality, and flexi- bility are good starting points. Looking at who else they do business with is another strong indicator of the supplier's credibility. Other customers in the same market sector as you will provide confidence that the supplier un - derstands the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of your business and meets them on a daily ba- sis. Credibility is all about building trust, and trust with your supplier relationships is cru- cial for achieving supply chain excellence. An- other aspect of credibility is whether the sup- plier is authentic; in other words, do they do what they say? When your PCB supplier give you a delivery date, you need to be highly con- fident that they are going to meet it. The same confidence must also apply to product quality; and since PCBs are the backbone of any elec- tronic product, failure is not an option. 4. Complete PCB Solution When choosing a global PCB supplier, it is infinitely more beneficial to select a supplier that can build as much of your technological requirements as possible. In the world of PCB sourcing, not following this model can quickly result in an explosion in the number of suppli - ers you will need and have to manage. While no supplier is a one-stop shop, minimizing the number of suppliers in your supply base will also minimize your supply chain costs. Tech - nology, surface finish, layer count, and sub- strate materials are some of the variables that must be considered when assessing a poten- tial PCB supplier's capability. In addition, product-type capability must be evaluated, such as rigid, rigid-flex, radio-frequency (RF), and metal core PCBs. Covering all of your re - quirements with the fewest suppliers will pay dividends in both qualification costs and the cost of ongoing supplier management. 5. Continuity One of the biggest supply-chain risks is con- tinuity of supply, and working with a suppli- er on another continent adds a multitude of logistical challenges to the mix. This is list- ed last because the previous four consider- ations can all impact supply continuity. Poor communication can result in delivery delays due to process issues or miscommunications. Finding out in mid-production that a suppli- er can't build a particular part results from a lack of collaboration. A supplier that frequent- ly reschedules promised delivery dates does not have the needed credibility to avoid sup- ply disruptions. A supplier with below aver- age engineering expertise is not a complete PCB solution. Assuming these four aspects are covered, there are some other things that can

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