Time to Market: Faster Than Ever

Now more than ever, speed is more important than anything else. When we talk to our customers, especially the ones who are working on new and innovative products (and almost all of them are), there is a growing concern that their suppliers are not going to be able to keep up with their need for speed.

We are rapidly heading to a post-pandemic America—a world that will be resplendent with innovations and new products; this has customarily been a result of a war or in the case of the 1960s and ‘70s, the space program.

We should be looking forward to a bright future filled with new and exciting products. Despite the lockdown, people never stopped thinking. Actually, they had more time to think, which means more time to create new products.

Many of these products are based on the needs that emerged because of the pandemic. Products like respirators, purification systems, automatic door openers, testing systems, temperature indicators, and many more were either invented or improved during this time. Now, with the world opening, we are seeing a rush to get these products prototyped and to the production stage.

But this phenomenon is being hampered by shortages of everything from laminates and components to equipment even a shortage in the workforce. Many companies in our industry are waiting weeks, if not months, to get their equipment orders filled or their existing equipment repaired.

This issue, combined with the need for speed, has created a perfect storm of challenges that need to be overcome. So, what can we do about it?

Those of us in the business of providing our customers with printed circuit boards and assembly have to do whatever we can to shorten the process. Our customers need it—and the world—need it.

Here are six things we can do right now to meet the need for quick-turn PCBs and PCBAs.

  1. Make it easy for the customer to quote  and place orders. So much time is wasted during the transactions of quoting and place business. Have tools on your web site that allow your customers to quote and place orders without talking to anyone. Make it as easy and effective as ordering a plane ticket on Expedia.
  2. Allow the customer to track her orders in real time. Set up a tracking system the notifies her each step of the way. Take the mystery out of the board delivery date so she can plan the manpower she will need when your product is delivered. Her team will be poised to grab your product and run to the next step in the process of building the end-product. And she will do it all without skipping a beat.
  3. Prepare everything you can. Look at everything within your control, from the laminate you have on hand to the components you’ll need for assembly. The minute you know you will get the order, get everything ready. Actually, if you develop the right automatic and order placement system, much of what you need to build and assemble the product will be ready when the order is placed. I have witnessed a demo of one unique and proprietary BOM quoting and ordering system that finds and assigns all the right components as the quote is being prepared. This makes the ordering fast, efficient, and most importantly, foolproof.
  4. Create a completely synergistic system where each element of the product works together concurrently. This means that while the board is being designed and laid out, key information is being sent to the fabricator so that he can put the right laminates on order even before the design is complete. Using the same concurrent system, the components that are going to go on the board are being ordered days or even weeks before they will actually be needed. This will assure that everything is at the ready when the time comes. It will cut out all of the lead times needed to wait for the right components, laminates or whatever else is needed to complete the project and help your customer improve their time to market.

We are on the threshold of a very exciting time in our industry, where everything is going to change for the better; this means that all of us have to change for the better. Those of us who provide PCBs and PCBAs have to improve as well. We must find ways to not only do things better but to do them faster—much faster. Our customers’ demands for faster turnarounds of everything from the quote to the order to the completed products is here right now and it is up to us to make sure that we are prepared to meet those demands and help them improve their time to market.

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

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2021

Time to Market: Faster Than Ever

05-06-2021

Now more than ever, speed is more important than anything else. When we talk to our customers, especially the ones who are working on new and innovative products (and almost all of them are), there is a growing concern that their suppliers are not going to be able to keep up with their need for speed.

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Time to Market: Secrets to Super Customer Service

03-25-2021

A recent survey of a few companies asked what was the most important to them. The survey not only focused on what was offered by their customers today, but what they wanted if they could have anything they wanted in terms of service from the suppliers. It was a very interesting, and surprising, exercise.

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Time to Market: Customer Service is Still the Key

02-18-2021

Times have changed and fast time to market is not an excuse to skimp on quality, technology or customer service. In fact, great customer service is more important than it has ever been, especially when it comes to quick turn-around orders.

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Time to Market: Everything Changes—Are You Ready?

01-21-2021

Imran Valiani is always on the lookout for ways to cut time to market. Over the years this has become his personal passion. When he stumbled on a way to shorten the quoting process, Valiani left no stone unturned.

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2020

Time to Market: Ensuring Your Suppliers Are There for You

12-10-2020

The best vendors are always there for you and are willing to work 365/24/7. Your company’s most valuable assets are your products, and you're entrusting them to another company. Here, Imran Valiani shares the eight most critical questions you have to ask about your supplier.

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Time to Market: You Get What You Pay For

11-25-2020

There is an old saying that goes, “You get what you pay for.” This is especially true when it comes to the electronics manufacturing industry. What is a great product, what is a great PCB, and what is extraordinary service? Imran Valiani details eight characteristics of a great PCB supplier.

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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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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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