Early design engagement with EMS providers is crucial in product development

John Johnston, NPI Director

For years, OEMs across all sectors have traditionally used huge networks of suppliers, all specialising in different areas and working to varying timescales. Now, driven by rapidly developing technology and increasingly demanding consumers, these businesses are being forced to change their supply chain strategies. In turn, they are putting pressure on their suppliers and partners to design and develop products in ever-decreasing timescales, delivering both quality and cost-efficiency.

EMS partners which manufacture customer’s electronic products on a subcontract basis are often presented with a fully-developed and fixed “Design Package” which defines every aspect of the build. Once supply chains are created and commitment is made to EMS processes, material stocks and supplier tooling (which can be expensive in the case of moulded enclosures and specialist metalwork), further significant design changes can be prohibitively complicated and costly.

The most cost-efficient route to market is to establish crucial early engagement between the EMS teams designing and manufacturing the products and the OEMs’ design departments. Getting manufacturing suppliers involved early on in the design process allows them to fully understand the OEM’s business objectives, and apply its own knowledge to positively aid the product development process, identifying and eliminating potential pitfalls and delays.

In electronic manufacturing, a design for manufacture (DfM) approach is essential, as complex components and processes must be handled with skill, to ensure products are both efficient and profitable. In certain sectors, such as defencesecurity or power for example, additional pressures exist such as hazardous or hostile environments or the need to protect national security. For medical equipment, many of the products created have life-critical uses and so it’s vitally important that they are thoroughly tested at the prototyping stage to ensure excellent performance.

By driving early stage engagement to partner customers through the latter design and product development stages, EMS providers can make sure products are created with optimal efficiency in mind. By proposing sensible, practical, and often relatively minor changes to a product, this approach delivers substantial tangible benefits without disrupting or prolonging the design process or cutting corners in terms of efficiency or quality.

To find out more about early engagement in design, read about our newly opened Chemigraphic design centre.

A more detailed version of this article by John can be found on the Design Solutions website

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