There is a considerable amount of work that goes into designing a Printed Circuit Board and design teams often feel the pressure from higher-ups to deliver their project on schedule. We all know that to keep projects running smoothly, it’s imperative that design teams deliver their projects on time.
While this is a crucial aspect of the production process, being pushy or demanding does not motivate your teams to work any harder or perform better.
If you are looking to motivate your team, keep PCB manufacturing projects on schedule, and avoid common errors, here are a few methods that can help you do just that.
Establish Goals and Communicate Effectively
As soon as your project is scheduled, the first step is to set goals. They need to be clearly defined and concise, so everyone on the team understands what needs to happen in the design process, and when each step needs to be completed.
You provide your team with vague goals, they won’t know what is expected of them. This only leaves your team frustrated and can result in flaws in the PCB as they rush to finish by the deadline.
To ensure that goals are clearly written and available to the entire design team, use a productivity app. If you do decide to share goals in a digital medium, be sure that everyone understands how to use the app first.
Use this method to consolidate communications. Otherwise, your team won’t know whether to look at emails, text messages, or other techniques to find the information they need.
When your staff reaches goals, be sure to recognize that tasks are completed. Check off each step along the way and let your team know that you see their hard work and commitment to the project.
Take time along the way to thank them, and give out a few rewards, too for a job well done or early completion.
Plan Ahead by Choosing the Correct Supplier
Your project could be delayed for several reasons. Many of the reasons might be completely in your control. One way to ensure that you can deliver the PCB on time is to find your suppliers as quickly as possible.
When you begin interviewing suppliers, ask them how they can help you with your on-time deliveries. You can also ask for references and talk to their other customers so you can learn about their delivery schedules.
Suppliers often ask for credit terms. If your new supplier does this, fill it out immediately. Then, you can get everything set up and ready to go. Once you get into a routine, you can make changes when needed, as long as they do not slow your delivery schedule.
It is also wise to arrange a preferred carrier with your supplier’s system, so you do not have to worry about delays. When you pay on time, your suppliers will deliver on time. Late payments often result in delayed shipments.
When you are ready to look for suppliers, there are several qualities to investigate. Of course, the best supplier should have superior technical skills as you expect their products to function without flaws. The technical skills should also come with certifications linked to industry quality standards.
The best suppliers also communicate frequently, so you understand what is happening with your orders. They should have a flawless logistics system that allows you to track your order from the moment you place it until it arrives at its destination.
Of course, cost is always an important factor when considering suppliers, as you still have to deliver PCBs within your set budgets.
Prepare for Parts Management
In the design phase, you should browse the stock and standard lead times for distributors. As you find statistics that work with your goals, begin securing parts. You will want them delivered as soon as possible, so do not wait until the bill of materials is finalized. Being proactive will help your design team stay on schedule.
You should order parts as quickly as soon as you can. If you need parts that are in limited supply, order them when they are available, as the chance exists that they might not be available when you need them rushed.
Keep in mind:
When you look at shipping at a cost-per-part expense, you get more for your money if you can order parts in large quantities and ship them together.
To save money it’s advised to let your supplier secure the parts for you. Why? If you secure the parts yourself you end up paying to ship them twice. The first shipment happens when the parts come from the distributor; the second from the supplier.
If you secure the parts yourself, you take on full liability should inspection find faults with the parts and you will be responsible for handling any warranty claims. These costs quickly add up and can negatively impact your bottom line.
When you shop for parts, look first at the large suppliers. They usually have common parts on hand and can make substitutions if your needs change or certain models are not available. Your supplier might have less expensive options that work as well as your typical orders.
Because large suppliers do not have to wait for parts to arrive, they can ship to you without delay, even if you make changes to your orders.
Properly Arrange for Testing
Design teams must rely on suppliers to ship parts that function properly and meet their exact designs. To ensure functionality prior to shipping the finished product, set up a basic test procedure for your supplier. This helps the supplier to find out quickly if there are defects so the PCBs can be reworked on-site.
Some designs have programmable parts. If this is the case, then create a basic test firmware image that you can program into the design. Technicians will understand how to test the device to see that it is functioning properly immediately.
When you need to keep your PCB development project on schedule, it requires finding a quality supplier that understands your industry. Your supplier needs to deliver on time to your exact specifications and should have well-established quality measures in place to know if your designs will function as they should. Internally, remember to remain organized and streamline communication to keep your team functioning like clockwork.