Can Do in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering— Building Redundancy in Critical Areas

In this series, I am addressing six ways in which a company can significantly benefit from outsourcing their front-end CAM work:

  1. On-demand capacity
  2. Improving automation
  3. Fast turn-around
  4. Reducing costs
  5. Improving quality
  6. Building redundancy in critical areas

This column will focus on the sixth benefit: building redundancy in critical areas.

Building Redundancy in Critical Areas

While having on-demand capacity, improved automation, fast turn-around, and cost reductions, improved quality is critical to any front-end engineering operation. Achieving those goals while building redundancy in key areas is imperative. Redundancy should be built in every critical area that involves the front end.

Automation

I can only begin to tell you stories of companies that used a single person either within their organization or an individual contractor to build automation where it didn’t end well. When you give the keys to your automation and maintenance of that automation to one individual, bad things can and usually do happen. They can leave or hold you beholden to their whims.

Countless times, companies have come to us where they can’t get their automation person to fix or do anything. Having a systematic, redundant approach is critical in routinely updating and maintaining automation. CAM software changes, as well as your processes, operating systems change, and technology. There are innumerable variables that change and need to be accounted for in your automation. Redundancy is critical here. As an outsourcing provider, we have teams of people that work on automation projects providing a tremendous amount of redundancy, so no one person has the keys to the castle.

CAM Operators

Most PCB shops can’t afford to have extra CAM operators on staff. It’s hard enough to find and keep the ones they have. This is where outsourcing has an inherent built-in advantage. We have dozens of CAM engineers, so if the person(s) assigned to your work leaves, gets sick, or goes on vacation, we have lots of others as backups. We always assign more than one person to an account to ensure redundancy.

Infrastructure

Having backup servers and a robust backup policy is critical. You don’t want to risk the potential loss of years of engineering data. Many have on-site backups, but few consider backing up off-site in case of fires or other disasters that can wipe out your live systems and on-site backups.

In our operation, we have backups for every possible link in the delivery chain:

  • Power backup: Our power generators kick in the instant power is lost to ensure continued service levels
  • Internet backup: We use wired and wireless systems
  • Backup servers and desktops
  • On-site and off-site data backups

In our many years of servicing the front end for many customers in North America and Europe, we have a zero downtime track record.

Benefits

Here are some of what I consider the top benefits you will achieve by outsourcing:

  • Add highly skilled engineers at a lower cost
  • Implement advanced automation to achieve much higher throughput, better repeatability and quality, and avoid reliance on “tribal knowledge” that can walk out your door
  • Free critical engineering resources to help generate more sales and interact with customers on technical sales
  • Keep up with surges, off shifts, and overtime work with no need to add permanent headcount to manage surges
  • Implement repeatable and consistent processes while building redundancy throughout your front-end process
  • Reduce shop floor rejects by improved front-end quality, resulting in lower costs and higher margins
  • Grow your business and beat the competition by having a highly capable and scalable front-end engineering team

Conclusion

Many believe that outsourcing is wrong because it takes away from local jobs. That may be the case if this industry can find the talent level at a cost that they can afford, but this is not the case in North America or Europe. My view is that outsourcing the front end provides a new lifeline to this industry. Several of our customers have told me, “We wouldn’t be in business without your service.” They simply can’t find affordable engineers even at higher salaries. Unfortunately, our industry isn’t “sexy.” At first glance, it doesn’t always appeal to young people; they aspire to work for Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and the like. As the talent pool diminishes by attrition, working with partners that still have a large pool of young, talented workers that are very interested in technology jobs is good for the industry.

Mehul J. Davé is CEO of Entelechy Global Inc.

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2019

Can Do in CAM Outsourcing: CAM Engineering— Building Redundancy in Critical Areas

01-22-2019

Many believe that outsourcing is wrong because it takes away from local jobs. That may be the case if this industry can find the talent level at a cost that they can afford, but this is not the case in North America or Europe.

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2018

‘Can Do’ in CAM Outsourcing: Improving Quality in CAM Engineering

09-19-2018

In this series, Mehul J. Davé, CEO of Entelechy Global Inc., will address six ways in which a company can significantly benefit from outsourcing their front-end CAM work.

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CAM Engineering—Reducing Costs

06-12-2018

While having on-demand capacity, improved automation, and fast turn-around are critical to any front-end engineering operation, achieving those goals with a cost-effective solution is imperative. Electronics are constantly under cost-reduction pressures. Functionality, capability, and complexity increase while costs decrease.

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2017

CAM Engineering—Fast Turn-Around

09-11-2017

Time-to-market has been the mantra for every successful technology company. The best among them have strong and integrated supply chains that march to the drum of the OEMs and EMS providers that bring that technology to market. A big part of that success, especially in North America and Europe, is the ability for PCB manufacturers to turn around complex PCBs very quickly. The hallmark of PCB production in these higher-tech, higher-cost regions is flexibility and responsiveness.

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2016

CAM Engineering – Automation

12-19-2016

As volume production in PCB has shifted significantly to Asia, manufacturers in Europe and North America have been focusing on high technology, quick-turn, prototype, and lower-volume production.

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A Case for Outsourcing CAM Engineering

04-29-2016

In the West, outsourcing is sometimes considered taboo and many believe it is one of the causes for shifting our manufacturing base to the East—specifically China and other lower cost Asian countries. In this series of columns, I will make a case in support of CAM outsourcing—especially for North American and Western European printed circuit board manufacturers.

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