In most industries, good inventory management is important. In contract electronics, it's absolutely mission-critical for products to succeed.
With contract PCB assembly, your inventory of parts and supplies plays a much bigger part in the overall success of a product, and of your business. A single bad $1 component can ruin a $100+ piece of electronics. This is an especially big issue with overseas assembly. There are plenty of stories of major businesses either not receiving the products ordered or discovering that counterfeit components had been used. Even the US Air Force fell victim.
Beyond the immediate impact, there are several other major ways that modern protected inventory oversight can bring significant benefits to your production process. Let's take a look.
Four Ways You Benefit From Robust Inventory Management
1、Per-component tagging brings peace of mind.
In modern factories and supply lines, it's entirely possible to track each individual component, from initial factory to final build... when you have the right partners. Using either RFID or barcodes, computerized systems can keep track of them, with full database lookups\auditing to ensure there aren't any irregularities.
This vastly reduces the chances of poorly PCB manufacturing counterfeits slipping into your products and causing trouble. Not to mention, poor products often make headlines today. A single "dud" product can sometimes sink a company's reputation.
2、Improved product troubleshooting.
One of the biggest "hidden" impacts from counterfeit parts is the trouble they cause for your engineers. If a product begins to fail unexpectedly, and the engineers don't know the supply line is secure, finding the source of the problem can be nearly impossible. This is doubly true if the substitutions are only in some units, but not others.
A buggy product made from compromised parts may not be salvageable without a complete rebuild.
3、Easier supply line reconfiguration.
Another issue that can arise due to fake parts is that they cannot be reliably replaced by other sources. We sometimes hear horror stories of products built from the ground up with counterfeit parts that, perversely, are then not compatible with actual components because of minor discrepancies.
And, again, the only solution here is a full rebuild and a new batch order.
When you're working with a manufacturer who guarantees the provenance of their components, that means they'll be able to find other guaranteed sources for those components, if you need to shift your supply lines. You'll know it's the same component, fitting the same place on your circuit board, every time.
4、Predictive parts ordering.
On the other hand, if you know your supply lines are secure, you can then begin to leverage that to bring future benefits. The average failure rates of official components will be well-known, and can be used to predict how many replacement parts are likely to be needed for post-sale service.
In turn, this means you can optimize your orders ahead of time, to pre-stock components based on their predicted failure rates. This is significantly less expensive than running extra production runs later, to acquire parts your support staff has run out of.