Early on in the printed circuit board (PCB) industry, "quick turn PCB" was a very relative term. Purchase orders were faxed, confirmed with a phone call, and lead time was open for discussion. Quick turn PCBs were 7-10 days, maybe as low as 5-days for a fast PCB manufacturer. A 2-day PCB quick turn was a very rare order which designated a person to move through production from process to process, bumping every other board from the line.
As the industry changed in the 90s and 2000s, quick-turn needed to get...quicker. This was just as true overseas, as the demand for offshore quick turns would become a challenge unto itself. As automated circuit board manufacturing processes emerged, they took time out of production and demands as quicker lead times became a more doable priority.
How Quick Is Quick Enough?
For production, time is everything. Time to process, running boards through the many stages it takes to build a PCB, the whole process takes time. The number of panels needed to complete adds time to the process therefor adding even more time. For some processes, depending on what is being processed, when a quick-turn arrives it will depend on if it is it’s turn to run or if there will be lost time. All lost time in production is difficult or if not impossible to recover. Adding shifts, overtime, weekend help, or bumping other orders all adds cost.
How Is PCB Quick Turn Time Measured?
Is one day (24 hours) a full day?
Let’s count the hours to determine the lead time for printed circuit boards. Assuming the parts have already been quoted, the order is ready to be placed. If the current time is 9:00AM and the order is received by customer service, validated, entered, and confirmed, the clock starts ticking.
The order is then passed over to the planning department, review begins, ensures part is placed at the right production facility, attributes are considered, and then the cost is totaled and processed as a purchasing order. On average maybe one to two hours would have passed at this point and the order is transferred into engineering.
Once in engineering, your order is scheduled according to the lead time. The first available engineer will begin the review of all supplied documentation, processing, and will then send it into production. Time in engineering is a large variation from an hour to many hours depending on the complexity and the circuit board data sets provided.
Data driven time in engineering is unknown at the quote level. Time is not a consideration or a factor during the circuit board quote phase but on average, most orders can be processed within two to three hours so at this point the order would have progressed into the afternoon since when the order was placed initially. The data is sent to start production, time loss is three to five hours.
When counting days in the printed circuit board industry regarding Epec, the cut off for any lead time entered is noon time. As long as we have your order in our possession by noon time, it is considered the start of day one.
The Quick (Turn) Summary...
When the order is received in the morning, production begins, and by noon time the next business day, your order has completed day one. From there, add another 24 hours, day 2 is now completed, etc. Repeat this process and you will have your ship date.
What Happens When Ordering Later than Noon?
When we receive an order in the afternoon, the start of your day one begins the next business day. How do I lose so much time if I place my order after noon? Considering the known and unknown factors, an order placed in the afternoon and the time it will take to enter the order process and send it into production, the day has nearly passed. Starting production after 4:00PM is just too many lost hours to consider counting this day as the start of day one.
How does Ordering Past 12:00pm Affect Ship Date?
At 12:00AM day one begins, counting forward in 24 hour increments will give the exact ship date of your order. This is true for all orders entered at the requested quoted lead time for orders received after the hour of 12:00PM.