Design Strategies for Success—and Profit


Reading time ( words)

In today’s economic environment, making money on a project is getting more and more challenging. Those years when businesses like mine were practically printing money are long gone.

The Good Ol’ Days

If you are under 30 years old, you probably do not have this point of reference; it’s been one downturn after another for your entire adult life. But for us older folks, times were really good back then. So, what happened?

You happened, as well as a million others like you, or so it seems. In other words, the market is a little cramped now and much more competitive, which dilutes our profit per project. And if you’re old school and have not grown into the here and now, you will always feel the profit pinch.

There was a time when PCB designers could name their price and people would pay it, primarily because their PCB design choices were limited. This is not true anymore. Now, you can’t throw a rock without hitting a PCB designer, or at least someone who thinks he knows how to design a board.

This is the competition we all face, and it’s the reason it is so difficult to justify our prices. We’re competing with every designer sitting in a home office in his shorts, drinking coffee and eating toaster pastries, while undercutting us by as much as 50%. Customers are driven by their own profit goals, and a low-ball quote is attractive when they really don’t understand the real cost of using cut-rate resources.

So how do we make more money while saving money for our customers? After all, the only reason to be in business is to make money, and that is a two-way street. Vendor and customer relationships go both ways. We provide a service that has value so they can provide a product that has value.

OEMs use companies like mine because they don’t want the overhead of supporting an in-house design engineering department. That was not the case 15 years ago. Seemed like everyone wanted to capture the engineering in-house. However, when business slowed down, this first thing many OEMs did was push us out the door because they did not know the value of the work we did.

To read this entire article, which appeared in  the March 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

Share


Suggested Items

Julie Ellis: Communication and Fabrication Knowledge Critical for Designers

11/14/2018 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Field Application Engineer Julie Ellis of TTM sees it all: good designs, bad designs, and everything in between. Her classes on proper DFM techniques are always a big draw. She taught at the inaugural AltiumLive in 2017 and was back at this year’s event. I caught up with Julie and asked her to discuss some of the things she covered in class. As she points out, many issues could be eliminated if designers communicated with their fabricators and had a better understanding of how PCBs are manufactured.

Max Seeley’s PCB Design Career is No Fish Story

11/14/2018 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
Max Seeley, senior electrical, PCB, and manufacturing engineer with 3M, was an instructor at the first AltiumLive event in 2017, and he made a return visit to this year’s event in San Diego. I asked Max why he decided to come back to AltiumLive this year and to share the story of his rather circuitous journey into PCB design, which included a turn as a custom aquarium builder. Everyone in PCB design has a different backstory.

Amway Sells Beauty Products—and Designs its Own PCBs

11/12/2018 | Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
During AltiumLive in San Diego, I met Dugan M. Karnazes, an associate electrical engineer and PCB designer at Amway. The company is famous for selling nutritional supplements and soap, but apparently Amway has been busy diversifying over the years. I was interested in finding out more about Amway’s electronics development. Dugan sat down with me to discuss his role at Amway, and how this company grew into an $8 billion global giant.



Copyright © 2018 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.