Buy Based on Value, Not Price

A great partnership with your PCB fabricator is a true investment in your company’s future. If you are willing to develop a strong, ongoing, and ever-growing partnership with your vendor, you will never have trouble sourcing your PCBs again.

There are only two ways to buy PCBs; the first is based on price, which is the wrong way because it encourages a very shallow relationship based on just one thing—the price of the boards. People who buy based on price get what they pay for in the end. How many times have you heard a board buyer say, “All PCB vendors are the same, so I just buy from the one with the cheapest price?” The key word in that sentence is not “price” but rather “cheapest” in the purest sense of the word. How can a company that prides itself in its products be happy with buying the cheapest?

The second, and right, way to buy PCBs—and anything else for that matter—is based on value. A great company should understand what it means to buy value, including the value of:

  • Getting boards in time every time. Think of how much it costs you when boards are late. Your lines could be down, and your people will be on the clock but idle. Your products will be late, and worse yet, if it’s a new product, you could delay your time to market and miss your window of opportunity. Is that worth 5–10% savings?
  • Lead time reduction: A true PCB partner will be able to reduce lead times when you need them to. Maybe you are in a critical time-to-market situation and need your PCB partner’s help in getting boards quickly. You could also have ongoing projects that require short lead times, or something happened, and you need to pull in some delivery dates. A great supplier will find a way to accommodate your needs. There is no better value than being able to count on your supplier to meet your delivery needs. In the end, that is priceless.
  • A quality supplier. How expensive is quality or the absence of it? Think of the potential disasters a poor-quality PCB ensues. If the vendor scraps it, the product will be late as they rebuild it. If it is rejected in your incoming inspection, it’s as bad as a late board, and sometimes even worse because it will have to be rebuilt, which will always take too long. Or, horror of horrors, you could have a field failure. Does the word “lawsuit” mean anything to you?
  • A well-run, well-managed, fiscally sound PCB shop. The problem with PCB shops that sell cheap is that they often go out of business. How does that sound to you? Do you want to invest your time, energy, and future in a company that is so shaky that it could go out of business? Or even worse, they could go bankrupt with your boards locked inside, never to be seen again.

These are just three things to look for when buying based on value, and three scenarios that can occur if you buy your PCBs based on price instead. You should choose your PCB suppliers carefully, making sure that they are always more valuable than cheap. After all, you’re buying your future.

Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits. Vardya is also an author of The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs and Flex and Rigid-Flex. Visit www.i007ebooks.com to download these and other free educational titles.

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2019

Buy Based on Value, Not Price

04-02-2019

There are only two ways to buy PCBs; the first is based on price, which is the wrong way because it encourages a very shallow relationship based on just one thing—the price of the boards; and the second, and right, is based on value. A great company should understand what it means to buy value.

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Standard of Excellence: Microwave PCB Bonding Methods—What Designers Need to Know

04-01-2019

The primary advantage of using thermoplastic films is their low electrical loss factor. PTFE multilayer boards are well known for their excellent electrical properties, but using a hybrid construction of a high-loss epoxy-based prepreg would defeat the purpose of the PTFE. While a particular bonding film may not exactly match the dielectric constants of the laminate, the effect of any difference is typically negligible, or if not, the board can be designed to allow for the difference. The downside is that thermoplastic film bonding is typically limited to low layer PCBs and not suited for sequential lamination.

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Standard of Excellence: Seven Things Your PCB Vendor Can Teach You

02-19-2019

One of the great things about having a good PCB vendor is that they can teach you and keep you informed about when it comes to their technologies, products, and business. Just as you and your company are experts in your technology, they are experts in theirs.

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Standard of Excellence: Keep Your PCB Supplier Sharp

01-15-2019

The best way to create a solid and productive partnership with your PCB supplier—and all of your suppliers for that matter—is to keep an open line of communication with them. No matter what kind of relationship you currently have with your suppliers, you can never communicate enough. Let them know at all times what you need from them.

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2018

Standard of Excellence: Preparing Your Vendors for the Future

12-03-2018

Now, it’s time to talk about the future with your PCB vendors. Referring to our previous columns, if you’ve done everything right so far, you will now have a strong working relationship with your PCB supplier. They understand all they need to know to fabricate perfect boards for you at this time. With trust and respect between you, you’ve truly formed a strong partnership going into the future.

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Standard of Excellence: Forging Partnerships Through Adversity and Problem Solving

10-29-2018

For the past few months, this column has discussed how to find and work with a great PCB vendor, and most importantly, how to form a strong, productive partnership. This month, Anaya Vardya will address how adversity can forge a great partnership between you and your PCB vendor that will last for life.

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Standard of Excellence: Working for the Future—Partnering with PCB Vendors on Innovative Technology

10-01-2018

The true test of the vendor-customer relationship comes when you need innovative PCBs—boards that are not easily found in the common marketplace and are so technologically advanced that they require your designers and suppliers to work together to go where neither has before.

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Standard of Excellence: Preparing for the Future with the Right Supplier

08-13-2018

Is your PCB supplier ready to take you into the future? Sure, they are doing a good job today, but what about tomorrow? What will happen when new designs require boards to be made with thermal or RF materials, or have lines widths down to two mils?

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Material Selection: The Key to RF/Microwave Success

07-23-2018

This month's column is written by Anaya Vardya and John Bushie. In today’s environment, there are a number of suppliers that may have similar materials but price points and lead times may vary. If you are open to trying different options, it is a good idea to work closely with your PCB fabricator so they can educate you on these aspects. Another option is to do parallel builds with multiple materials in the early stages of honing a new design to determine the optimum material set.

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Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner

06-12-2018

Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.

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Standard of Excellence: 5 Things a Total Global Solutions Supplier Can Provide

01-10-2018

Our world now extends far beyond the traditional brick and mortar of the domestic board suppliers of yesteryear. Now our customers demand that PCB fabricators provide them with a complete and total printed circuit board solution, from domestically built ITAR-registered defense and aerospace boards to high-volume, offshore solutions.

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2017

Standard of Excellence: Customers are Shooting for the Stars—Are We Coming?

08-17-2017

For years we have been calling them “science projects,” those PCB orders that did not quite fit into our normal process stream and therefore needed special attention, as well as special handling. Often, we have had to use trial and error to come up with just the right process to successfully complete the order.

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Standard of Excellence: The Challenges of Hiring Good People and Methods for Success

05-17-2017

Increasingly, we hear about the challenges of finding and hiring good people in our industry. We are being hit on all sides; much of our work force is aging out while young people don’t seem to be too interested in joining the printed circuit board industry. Let’s face facts: Fewer young people are going to college to become circuit board process engineers.

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Standard of Excellence: The Advantages of Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuits

05-01-2017

Since their introduction, flexible and rigid-flex circuits have been steadily moving from the fringe of electronic interconnection towards its center. Today, flex and rigid-flex circuits are found in countless products from the very simple to the highly complex. The reasons for this shift to the center are numerous; most of them are related to the advantages they offer. An examination of some of the benefits and advantages will make this clear.

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Standard of Excellence: Staying Prepared with Operations

03-08-2017

Handling the operations of a PCB company these days is a challenge, to say the least. When I started in 1979, we were building single-sided, double-sided, four-layer multilayers, and the occasional six-layer if you really had your act together. We were using FR-4 materials sprinkled in with an occasional polyimide build.

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2016

Standard of Excellence: Selling Technology—A PCB Engineer Transitions to Sales

12-21-2016

Selling technology today takes a great deal of time, patience and most of all knowledge of the product. There was a time when a salesperson was just that, a salesperson. Now, with the onset of all the new technologies, from RF and metal backed boards to flex and rigid-flex boards, to HDI and microvia boards and heavy copper boards, a salesperson must know what he’s talking about.

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Standard of Excellence: RF Microwave Technology—The Future is Now

11-29-2016

Although RF/microwave technology has been around for a considerable amount of time, many people are still not sure exactly what it is. This month, I am going to dedicate my column to explaining exactly what it is, why it is used, and in what products is it used. I’ll also discuss who needs it.

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Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

11-18-2016

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

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Communication Breeds Success

08-29-2016

We all need to talk to one another. You need to work closely with your customers. And we all need to work with the new generation of PCB designers and design engineers, many of whom have never set foot in a board shop. Fortunately, they make up for their lack of DFM knowledge with their hunger for information.

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The Future is in Fine Lines

07-11-2016

The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces.

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LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

05-25-2016

Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well...

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Tips for Finding a Great PCB R&D Partner

04-06-2016

This new column, Standard of Excellence, represents a cooperative writing effort by a team of experts at American Standard Circuits. This month, we begin with CEO Anaya Vardya, who focuses on R&D. In his piece, he provides his insights on what characteristics to look for in a good R&D PCB fabrication vendor partner, and a few things that are expected of them to do for you.

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