PCB Assembly: A PCB Designer’s Guide on Choosing the Right EMS Partner

Creating a reliable design for a printed circuit board is actually just the first step. The next thing that PCB designers would have to do is to look for a reliable EMS provider with whom they can partner with for the actual pcb assembly process. EMS stands for Electronics Manufacturing Service. The EMS provider is responsible for overseeing the technical aspects of the PCB production process.

PCB designers need to make sure that they select a trustworthy EMSprovider because making the wrong choice could have a lot of negative repercussions. One of the biggest consequences of choosing the wrong EMS provider is losing the customer’s trust. This is especially true in cases the EMS provider gave the PCB designer a fully-functional PCB for testing and inspection.
Once the designer is satisfied that the tested PCB meets all of the design specifications, he would send it back to the EMS provider for mass pcb assembly. This is often the part where the ‘magic’ happens: an EMS provider could mass-produce low-quality PCBs that do not meet any of the original specifications. Unreliable EMS providers do this with the goal of making tons of money out of the fraudulent transaction. Once the defective PCBs are forwarded to the client, the PCB designer would hold sole responsibility for it.

Going out of business or losing one’s job and credibility is something that no self-respecting PCB designer would want. This validates the importance of choosing the right EMS provider who would handle the pcb assembly with the utmost from start to finish. PCB designers can take note of the following tips for choosing a good EMS provider:

•Make sure that the prospective EMS provider has all the right tools. This would effectively ensure that the PCB production process flows smoothly. Not only that, it also means that the EMS would be able to start production of the PCBs on time. This also means that they would also be able to finish the PCBs on time.

•Verify whether the EMS has proper communication channels in place. Your responsibility as a designer does not stop once the design has been forwarded to the EMS provider. Likewise, the EMS provider cannot just take sole responsibility for the project as soon as he receives the design. There should be open and honest communication between both parties. This way, they can easily talk about any possible complications that could arise and properly formulate plans to avoid any delays in the pcb assembly. There are also a few cases wherein PCB designers require their EMS partners to send them copies of the technical specifications for each component that the EMS would be using on the PCB.

PCBPCB designers also have to decide whether they want to partner up with an EMS provider who specializes in reduced production costs or one who could promise high-quality products regardless of the cost. Most EMS providers that work on low-cost products also work well with high-volume orders. However, the tools of their trade are often only equipped for making standard PCBs that already have pre-existing designs. These providers are great for PCB designers who are creating new and better versions of pre-existing electronic devices. These devices include smartphones, tablets, personal computers, and so on.

On the other hand, the EMS provider that focuses on quality over quantity often has pcb assembly tools that provide no room for errors. This is because the end-products are often used on medical equipment wherein any error could have irreversible consequences or even death. Some examples are pacemakers, heart monitors, and so on. In this case, the EMS is often referred to as a partner instead of just a provider. This is because he would often have to work closely with the designer in order to eliminate all aspects of the design that could eventually lead to a factory defect on the PCB.