Board Buying

Greg Papandrew

Relying on a single source is a recipe for failure.

“Good, fast and cheap … pick two” is an old maxim that applies – to a degree, anyway – to the printed circuit board industry.

The implications, of course, are that if it’s fast and good, it’s going to be expensive; if it’s good and cheap, it will require lots of time; and if it’s cheap and fast, the quality will be poor.

PCB buyers should keep this in mind when choosing vendors and avoid relying too much on one supplier if they want good quality boards delivered on time and at a reasonable price.

Read more: Your PCB Vendor Basket Should Have More than One Egg

Greg Papandrew

The recognition and funds are good. But do they attack an underlying issue?

Reading Dr. Hayao Nakahara’s annual accounting of the printed circuit board market (which ran on this site last month), it’s hard to believe Taiwan was once dependent on Japan for PCB knowledge.

Years ago, however, it wasn’t Taiwan and China battling it out for market dominance; it was Japan and the US. Yet long before China emerged as a player, Taiwan had already identified PCBs as a key area for development.

Read more: What is the Real Key to Domestic PCB Industry Success?

Greg Papandrew

Shortsighted approaches lead to overspending.

Most air freight – including for printed circuit boards – is hauled in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft. While the number of available flights is slowly increasing as Covid restrictions lessen, the price is still high, and getting PCBs delivered on time and at a reasonable cost remains a significant challenge for buyers.

That’s why they should negotiate with suppliers for a “delivered” price.

PCB buyers often overlook fluctuating freight costs when considering total cost of ownership (TCO) of the offshore products they purchase.

Read more: Full Freight: PCB Buyers Should Demand a Delivered Price

Greg Papandrew

Limiting PCB moisture absorption is the full responsibility of the supplier. How to pack boards right.

PCB suppliers who use good packaging methods are keeping their products safe from physical damage incurred during transit from the manufacturing facility to customers’ warehouses. Equally important, these packaging practices help ensure shelf-life expectancy by preventing moisture absorption.

To protect their orders, PCB buyers should require suppliers strictly follow corporate shipping specifications. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for quality product to be built, only to have it damaged because of poor packaging practices. It’s just as frustrating when boards become useless while sitting on the shelf.

PCBs can be very heavy. Their sharp corners sometimes wreak havoc on the corrugated cardboard boxes in which they are shipped. A good freight spec should state boards are to be vacuum-packed with a bubble wrap base, with no more than 25 boards to a stack. When a board is oversized or heavier than normal, 10 to 15 pieces is the best option. Whatever number is used, the packaging should be consistent in count for a particular shipment.

Read more: All Wet: PCB Packaging, Shipping and Storage
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