Time to Market: How Fast Do You Really Need It?

There is no doubt that in this fast-paced world of innovation and time to market, speed is one of the most important aspects of making your products and company successful. And now more than ever, time is money, and the speed with which you get a product into the hands of the users can be a matter of life and death. Think about how important it has been during this pandemic to get ventilators built and into the hospitals as quickly as possible so that they could save lives.

While speed is critical, let me pose this question: By the time the product specs and BOMs get into the hands of your vendors—with demands that they design, fabricate, and assemble your product at lightning speed—was it really necessary that they have to build it in such a short time?

There is an old saying in the bare board business that goes, “The PCB is the last thing designed, and the first thing you need to build your product.” This is true, but are there things pre-manufacturing that you could have been doing to speed things up before the product got to the manufacturing stage? Are there steps and precautions that could have been taken in advance that could have greatly cut down that vital time to market time before the product manufacturing began?

Ultimately, yes, things can be done to not only cut down the need for speed at the manufacturing level and make a much better product in the end. Here are four actions that can be taken pre-manufacturing to cut down the critical need for speed at the manufacturing level.

1. Know Your Vendors
Have a complete understanding of where your boards are going to be built and assembled. Know what they can and cannot do easily. Learn what processes take more time. Learn enough about their factories and lines to design your products in the fastest, most efficient, and most cost-effective way to manufacture that product. Remember that being armed with this kind of knowledge can go a long way toward cutting costs and reducing that valuable time to market.

2. Listen to Your Vendors
They are your expert consultants at building and assembling PCBs. They know their business. They have spent years perfecting their processes. Almost all good vendors offer a number of guidelines, such as for DFM, for building and assembling PCBs, and most offer impedance calculators on their website. Many are begging for the opportunity to show you how a board is built and assembled. They offer their valued customers great advice that will save you time and money; all you have to do is respect them enough to listen and take that advice.

3. Trust Your Vendors
You know your business, and your vendors know their business. You have to respect them enough to take their advice when it comes to the best way to manufacture your products.

One of the best examples of how you can productively do this is to heed their advice when it comes to laminate selection. All it takes is one inexperienced designer to call out some hard-to-get and expensive laminate to completely disrupt your time to market, as well as the price of the product. A more experienced and knowledgeable designer would know that there are other more economical laminates that have the same technological properties and are much more available and less expensive.

Too often, when the PCB vendor offers this same advice and suggests the less-expensive laminate, they are shot down, and the substitution is not allowed, costing the customer extra time and money that could all have been avoided if the designer would have been better informed and respected and trusted their PCB fabricator.

4. Invite Your Vendors Into the Design Process
Use their knowledge and experience from the very beginning. It only makes sense that the person actually building the product should have a say in the original development of that product. They know which laminates and surface coatings will work best for all your needs. Your PCB fabricator knows how to build your product the most efficiently, productively, and economically, as does your assembly company. It is up to you to trust them.

Conclusion
Business, like everything else in life, is all about how you work with people. If you allow the people you rely on most for the success of your products and company, you can save a lot of money and time when it comes to new product introduction.

Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB. He can be reached at imran@rushpcb.com.

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2020

Time to Market: How Fast Do You Really Need It?

10-29-2020

There is no doubt that in this fast-paced world of innovation and time to market, speed is one of the most important aspects of making your products and company successful. Imran Valiani shares four actions that can be taken pre-manufacturing to cut down the critical need for speed at the manufacturing level.

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Time to Market: 12 Characteristics of NPI Suppliers

09-24-2020

When trying to get a new product to market, time can be the most important factor when it comes to its future success or failure. Imran Valiani details 12 characteristics you should look for when choosing and developing a long-term working relationship with that right new product introduction (NPI) supplier.

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Time to Market: 8 Ways to Know Your Customer Better

08-20-2020

Now is the time to go the extra mile in getting to know your customers, what they need, and how to help them solve their problems and challenges. Imran Valiani shares eight ways to know your customer better.

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Time to Market: It’s Not All About Money

07-30-2020

When you consider the true value of getting your product built swiftly enough to make your required date, you come to realize that it’s not all about the money. After all of the planning, scheduling, and marketing you’ve done, Imran Valiani explains what could happen if you don’t get your product on time.

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Time to Market: It’s Crunch Time!

06-25-2020

After sharing a crunch-time scenario, Imran Valiani emphasizes the importance of solid communication on getting to market on time—especially if you're not using a one-stop-shop for design, fabrication, and assembly.

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Time to Market: 10 Guidelines for NPI Projects

05-21-2020

With everything going on right now, people are looking for solutions—especially fast solutions. Imran Valiani shares 10 guidelines for working with your NPI supplier to make sure that you get your new, innovative, and in some cases, life-saving products to market quickly and efficiently.

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Time to Market: Time to Market Now More Critical Than Ever

04-23-2020

As inventors come up with new devices and equipment that can directly save lives when they are placed in the hands of the medical professionals who are treating COVID-19 patients, it is up to the PCB and PCBA industry to support those companies. Imran Valiani provides five actions to help customers get to market with their new products as rapidly as possible.

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Time to Market: Handling the Precarious Global Supply Web

03-26-2020

The rush is on. As the world changes moment by moment, more and more companies are going to need to have their new product lines developed faster than ever. As the global supply web shuts down—or at least gets closed off in some areas of the world—companies, especially OEMs, are having to scramble to find alternate solutions for building their products. However, Imran Valiani explains how there is a way to countermand these challenges: using trusted sources.

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Time to Market: Total Concept—A New Kind of Business Whose Time Has Come

02-27-2020

Customers used to have enough time to go just about anywhere to get their concept to reality projects completed. They could go to the East Coast for design, the Midwest to get their boards fabricated, and the West Coast for assembly. Nowadays, companies want to have a supplier that controls it all and is nearby so that they can meet with their vendors daily or more frequently to ensure that everything is going according to plan. This is especially critical when it comes to projects that are truly in development and will need a number of revisions.

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Time to Market: Concept to Reality in Five Days—Can You Believe It?

01-23-2020

Time to market has never been more important than it is today. Some companies today can go from schematic to an assembled board in five working days or less, and sometimes in just hours. Imran Valiani lists five things that super-fast companies must have to “cut the fat” from their cycle times.

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2019

Time to Market: The Complete Solution—Fabrication and Assembly in Five Days

12-05-2019

The future is here. More and more companies are turning to the complete synergistic solution, seeking companies who can provide PCB fabrication and assembly in just a few days, some in as little as five days. Imran Valiani shares five items to consider when choosing a total concept supplier.

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Time to Market: Partnership Is a Two-way Street

11-21-2019

The best way—and really the only way—to get the most from both your PCB vendors and others is to treat them as an extended part of your company. Bring them into the family, so to speak. And the better you treat your vendors, the better they will perform. I know that’s not the most complicated thing to say, but it is often not an easy thing to do. You have to intentionally choose companies to partner with as vendors, and then intentionally work to create a bond of trust with them consistently throughout the relationship.

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Time to Market: The Importance of Timely NPI

10-09-2019

In this new column from Imran Valiani plans to address ways to get products to market as quickly as possible.

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