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As we enter this critical phase in the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no greater need for expedient time to market. Inventors, innovators, and companies all over the world are striving to develop new products to fight the virus and, most importantly, keep people safe and alive.
Even as I write this, I am hearing of new products that can help us not only get through this epidemic but also make the world safer in the future. While many companies have turned their focus to producing more ventilators, other companies are working on less expensive and more effective versions of the device. Meanwhile, another company is developing devices to instantly purify and disinfect products rapidly and without heat.
As all of this is going on, it reminds us of the role our industry is playing to help with this worldwide outbreak. It also reminds us of how important fast time to market new product introduction has become in this new world order.
Traditionally, time to market has been all about business. The company with the coolest new product and gets it to the market first wins. The case has always been to help get products into the hands of the consumer. In these instances, it was seldom—if ever—a matter of life and death, but today, more than ever, it is.
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. We have to come up with ways to get these new products to market very quickly.
Here are five actions to help customers get to market with their new products as rapidly as possible.
1. Offer Design Consulting Services
If they are designing and laying out their PCBs, you should provide services to customers when it comes to designing their products so that they can be built efficiently and economically.
2. Offer Design Services
This is the best thing you can do. If you don’t have this service, then partner with a professional PCB designer so that you can provide a complete, seamless, and synergistic solution starting with design and moving to fabrication and assembly.
3. Provide a Concurrent Rather Than a Consecutive Process
If the relationship between design, fabrication, and assembly is completely transparent, things will go faster. If, while the designer is doing their thing, they inform the PCB fabricator with critical board data—such as board size, laminate, and hole count—the fabricators can get a head start, making sure they have everything they need to build the board. If the contract manufacturer has early insight into the BOM, they can start pricing the components and getting them on order so that everything will be ready when she gets the bare boards to assembly.
4. Keep the Lines of Communication Open at All Times
Talk to each other and keep one another informed of what is going on at all times. This is especially true if something goes wrong, such as board fall-outs and restarts, delayed designs, or component shortages. If everyone knows what is happening, then they can solve the problem more quickly. Remember the Godfather’s rule: Insist on hearing bad news immediately.
5. Keep Your Promises
All parties must do everything possible to be on time. This way, the PCB fabricator knows when the design data package will arrive, and the shop can schedule the job and build the boards as rapidly as possible. In turn, they should ensure that they deliver the bare boards to the assembly company on time as well. If everyone does their job and delivers to the next step on time, then the product will get into the right hands as quickly as possible, which—of course—is the whole point of quick-turn new product development.
Of course, some companies have all the disciplines, design, fabrication, and assembly all under one corporate umbrella or—in some cases—all under one roof. These are great companies with which to work. Regardless, no matter what your company does, if you have the right attitude and spirit of cooperation and partnership and are willing to work with your customer and vendor partners, you will succeed in getting critical products to market to save lives, which is what we are working for at this time. Stay safe out there. We need you.
Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB.