Outsourcing PCB Layout and Design to Reduce Costs and Time to Market

Ed McMahon - CEO
Written by Ed McMahon - CEO
Posted on September 6, 2017 at 9:00 AM

Even though the last financial crisis was over 8 years ago, most engineering departments at electronic OEMs have never fully staffed back to the levels that they were before the economic disaster. That means that there are many engineers doing two or more jobs, all while their senior management still insists on meeting tight timelines with limited budgets. Luckily, there are ways to outsource your printed circuit board (PCB) layout projects in order to save both time and money.

In this blog post we will review a few ways that PCB layout and design companies can help OEMs.

Circuit Board Layout Designed With Tight Spacing

Circuit Board Layout Designed With Tight Spacing

 

Having 24/7 Engineering Staff

While much of the customer conversations and technical discussions happen during business hours, much of the PCB layout work can be done off hours. This is critical as most customers are not sitting by their phone waiting for a call to answer technical questions, so if a design has to wait for 3-4 hours that is critical time that is now lost on the design of the circuit board.

Working With A Significant Customer Base

No two PCB layout jobs are ever the same and having experienced operators with the different layout tools is critical to be able to respond quickly to customer request(s).

Along with that experience, comes the additional experience of working with the component manufacturers to understand the nuances of dealing with the intricacies of their parts. Whether it is TI, Microchip, Atmel, NXP, or many others, having contacts at those companies and knowing how small decisions like component placement could affect the performance is extremely important.

By working with so many different customers, those best PCB layout practices are shared internally among the design teams so that knowledge can be used to help every customer.

Understanding Your End Goals

Every engineer knows the old adage, “You can have anything you want, but not everything you want”. Experienced engineers want to quickly get to the heart of what you are looking for to help you reach your goals. A few examples:

  • You need to get a product developed through UL and out to customers in 6 months. This means that that engineer will choose tried and true components rather than the newest un-proven versions in order to minimize your risk of having issues.

  • Cost is your number one concern. This means that an engineer should point out the cost considerations on the end product before every change, no matter how minor it is. If not the engineer will give you exactly what you asked for technically that no longer fits in your cost structure.

  • The application for your device has significant EMI or RF interference requirements. Whether your device is in an emergency room, data center, or an aircraft, certain issues require specific tests that you need to pass to be considered safe and the tests can be significant. The place to discuss and plan around a solution is at the circuit board layout stage as there are many different tools and strategies that can be deployed to help achieve whatever the goals may be.

Manufacturing Discounts After Design

The best printed circuit board layout and design companies are also the most experienced PCB manufacturers. This provides not only the benefit of working with a company who will create a design that is manufactureable, but the added benefit where most companies will give you a discount if you have them build the PCB after the layout.

Summary

Everyone in the printed circuit board industry today is busy and any opportunity to take time out of their day is welcomed. Even small decisions like who to work with on your PCB layout and design can save you a significant amount of time and money that can be used to help get your products to market faster.


Topics: Printed Circuit Boards, US Manufacturing


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