Have you noticed some EMS providers take longer than others to come back to you when you request a quote? Obviously, no one wants to be kept waiting when there’s a job to be done. But you should beware of those who sacrifice reliability for speed.
Method in the madness
If you’ve got a rush job on it can be frustrating when an EMS provider doesn’t come back to you with an instant costing.
But, we would argue that every EMS provider should have a robust process in place to make sure their OEM clients are getting the most reliable quotes possible. This may make things take a little longer, but going through the process will protect both client and supplier.
Opportunities need to be qualified first and then go through a tried and tested system to work out what’s required and exactly how much it will cost. This approach ensures consistency in quotations and reduces the risk of making promises that can’t be kept.
How we do it
At JJS when an OEM reaches out to us for a quote we first gather as much information about the opportunity from the customer as possible. This will be all the data we need, or as much we can get, to work out pricing against required volumes. In an ideal world this will include:
- A bill of materials (BOM) or parts list
- Drawings for each bespoke or "made-to-print" item, such as front panels, metal cases, machined parts, brackets, plastic enclosures, identification plates etc.
- PCB Gerber files
- CAD data
- Assembly drawings
- Schematic drawings
- Wiring drawings
- Test specifications
This data together forms a ‘build pack’ and will be uploaded into our business management system where our engineering team will pick it up and begin to work from it.
Price vs Delivery?
Our Purchasing team will reach out to suppliers to get quotes for parts and materials. Due to the ongoing instability within the electronic component market, we don't like to guess or assume that historic pricing we may have received at one point is still valid. Providing budgetary pricing is all well and good, but in our experience, customers would prefer to have a stable price they can order from rather than one that varies throughout the process, but this does, of course, take longer to prepare.
If you’ve specified a particular deadline for delivery, this will also be reflected in the price quoted. Typically, we won’t give you the quote unless we know for sure we can source the required components in the quantities needed to meet your deadlines. And if you need a quick turnaround, that's likely to include catalogue pricing which, unfortunately, leads to a higher cost in many cases as you're paying for convenience and immediate availability over extended lead-times.
If one supplier’s quote doesn’t match up with what’s needed, then we’ll go through a second round of requests. If it's impossible to meet your exact requirements we’ll be honest with you, but usually this robust method is enough to get what you need.
Process Driven or 'Finger in the Air?'
The advantage of working in this systematic, process-driven way is that we can be true to our word. If we say we can do it, we usually can. And there won’t be any unwelcome surprises further down the line like missing items from the BOM, extended lead-times over above what was quoted to you or significant unit cost variances. The downside of doing it this way, of course, is it can take a little longer.
Other EMS providers work in slightly different ways. In the current climate where some companies have lost regular clients and orders, there is an urgency to win business. In order to impress you with the speed of their response, some will be prepared to risk quoting on estimates and best-case scenarios.
Once you’ve agreed to their quote, they will still need to go through their formal process to confirm timings and the availability of requested components. And only then, maybe, they’ll discover their assumptions have been wrong.