What questions should your EMS partner be asking in the supplier selection process?

Increasing globalisation, rapidly changing market conditions and the introduction of new technological advancements are all having an undeniable impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the electronics manufacturing supply chain.

And as we've continued to observe with the impact of the ongoing global electronics components shortage, any challenge to the supply chain has the potential to cause major disruption.

Even small hiccups, delays or shortfalls in supply can have dire financial and economic consequences.

Ultimately, it will be down to an electronics manufacturer's procurement and supply chain team to identify, and put in place, the strategies and requirements for the company's supply chain network.

Whether you currently manage your own end-to-end electronics manufacturing, or you have opted to outsource to an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider, there are some essential issues (and potential risks) to bear in mind when assessing the value and reliability of any proposed new supplier:

Responsiveness to new technology

As the electronics manufacturing landscape continues to evolve, is your potential supplier actively participating in the latest advancements in technology and data management?

Do they have the technical capability, and proven track record, to deliver consistently defect-free products on time and in full? Are they actively managing their data to minimise risk? And are they open to future advancements that will improve efficiency?

According to the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Manufacturing Report, a third of all manufacturing supply chains are predicted to be using analytics-driven cognitive capabilities by 2020.

And by 2021, it's expected that twenty percent of Global 2000 manufacturers will be relying on advanced embedded intelligence technologies. All of which will require suppliers to have the agility to cope with new compliance measures, cost structures and supply capabilities.


Proof of adherence to relevant local, regional or international standards, policies and regulations will also be crucial to a successful relationship. Is the supplier able to demonstrate compliance with applicable wage and labour laws, for example?

Do they abide by the legislative requirements of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling (WEEE), Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACh), Conflict Minerals or Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS?)


Manufacturers will often be basing big decisions on the quality, reliability and candidness of the information contained in financial reports. Is your prospective supplier able to offer you complete transparency in their financial and performance reporting? Are they willing (and able) to contribute to the prospective partnership by providing real added value?

Company culture

Securing a supplier with the right company fit can also be invaluable for ensuring a long-lasting relationship. Do they provide a humane and supportive work environment for their employees. Are they committed to upholding equality of opportunity, and opposing any form of discrimination, across all staff?

Does their company culture align with your own company values? And are they an organisation that is invested in the process of continuous improvement across all their operations? And what innovation and imagination are they promising to bring to the relationship?

Environmental sustainability

From an environmental perspective, does your prospective new supplier conduct themselves in a way that protects and minimises their impact on natural resources?

Are they playing an active role in implementing and evolving best practice environmental sustainability policies (such as ISO 14001), whether that's through the reduction of waste, green energy initiatives, the use of recycled materials or innovative approaches to packaging?


If you're looking for ways to increase competitiveness in electronics manufacturing, then supply chain reliability is likely to be one of your key areas of focus.

The agility and security of your suppliers is crucial - not only in ensuring that production runs smoothly but that it supports the ongoing development of new products, it keeps your customers satisfied and provides your business with a competitive advantage.

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Written by Neil Sharp

Neil has over 25 years’ experience in Electronics Manufacturing Services and Component Distribution. During his career, Neil has held a range of leadership positions in sales, marketing, and customer service. Neil is currently part of the ESCATEC Senior Management Team and is responsible for setting and delivering the overall Group Marketing strategy. Neil heads up the marketing department and is responsible for both the strategy and the implementation of innovative marketing campaigns designed to deliver high quality content to those seeking outsourcing solutions.