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January 2016 • SMT Magazine 29 uct more cost effectively. A lot of this has to do with forecasting. Number 5: Inventory Who controls and is responsible for the in- ventory and how much inventory will the EMS provider hold? A good one can analyze your bill of materials (BOM) and offer insight into potential issues before manufacturing begins. Sourcing hard-to-find components, obsoles- cence, and counterfeiting are all issues that an experienced EMS provider can advise a device manufacturer about. Open lines of communica- tion and robust quality procedures will ensure that problems are prevented and a more reli- able product will result. Number 6: Processes and Procedures— Calculable Metrics Review the processes and procedure for set- ting up the project. Look for a company that has tracking mechanisms in place. If something is defective or fails in the field, a tracking system will often help you determine where the fail- ure occurred and what caused it, which batches might be defective, and what parts were used so that additional problems can be avoided. How transparent is the operation? Each step of the assembly process should be noted electroni- cally and sequenced in the order that it needs to take place. Inspection points should be set at every stage as first article checks ensure that the process flows error-free. In some plants, ev- ery operator has a unique identifier, providing complete traceability from when a job enters the EMS to the finished product. Number 7: Quality, Inspection, and Testing Quality is often the first thing mentioned in the rankings of what is wanted from an EMS company, but the degrees of quality provided can run the gamut. Examine the test proce- dures used. What types of inspection and tests are done and how are they performed? Inspec- tion equipment has changed dramatically over the past few years so it is now better able to cap- ture defects and help explain where they come from and how to prevent them. However, nei- ther machines nor people are infallible, so for medical devices in particular, having some ad- ditional manual inspection procedures in place can provide an extra level of protection. When in the manufacturing process are in- spection and test performed? Make sure you se- ToP 10 FaCTors To CoNsIder wheN seleCTINg a MedICal eMs CoMPaNy feature

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