Providing a Contract Electronics Manufacturer (CEM) with a comprehensive and up-to-date mechatronics build pack won’t just make life easier for us. It will help you get a quote request back quicker and if you then decide to partner with us, you will be free to focus on what you are really good at i.e. product design, marketing and sales - safe in the knowledge all of the information required to consistently build, test and deliver your product has already been provided up front.
Don’t get me wrong, a CEM always wants to hear from a potential new customer. We want to understand your business needs, growth targets and help figure out the right solution for you. But when it comes to quoting for your mechatronics assembly we’re going to need some 'meat on the bones' before we can really start to help you.
So, what does a CEM need from you to generate an accurate quote?
Well, among other things, a build pack is essential. And it should include the following:
1. Bill of Materials (BOM)
Your Bill of Materials (BOM) should:
- Reference all of the materials required to assemble the product
- Include a description of the parts, covering how many of each are required to produce a single product
- Include circuit reference and item numbers against each part, clarifying exactly where on the assembly drawings the items should be fitted.
2. Wiring Schematic
Let us see your wiring schematic as soon as possible, ideally in CAD format, so we can understand what is entailed. The schematic should contain, at a minimum, details of cable size, colour, and identification numbers, along with details about where terminations are expected to be made.
3. Wiring Schedule
Alongside the basic point-to-point information in the schematic, your assembly partner will also want to understand how the terminations within your assembly should be made. Do you need them soldered or crimped for example? Also, how do you want to route the cabling within the machine itself or the control cabinet? Wiring is a specialist skill, so unless you're specific, the wireman will use their experience and judgement to complete the job which could impact the amount of cabling required and, therefore, costs.
4. Assembly drawing
Assembly drawings help your CEM provider visualise how to fit together all of the items in the BOM. All these drawings should reference the associated item numbers and show the scale that they represent. It might be necessary for multiple drawings to exist for each level of a complex assembly. And all levels should be revision controlled and any Engineering Change Notes (ECN) should be present on the drawings, too. Cross-sectional views are always welcome, but you should avoid having too many details in one section as this can become counterproductive.
5. Manufactured parts drawings
Items such as enclosures, front panels, overlays, machined and fabricated parts are produced in much lower volumes and as such, will be subject to greater variance during the manufacturing process. When producing drawings for these items you should clearly specify the required material type and finish, along with dimensions and allowed tolerances. Drawings should clearly define the scale and, of course, be revision controlled so that future changes can be tracked.
Avoiding the hidden costs
You’re unlikely to get accurate costings on which to base future projections unless you can share the right information with your outsource provider. This is particularly true for complex mechatronics builds where tolerances are tight.
Documenting and assembling all this build pack information will mean that you can get the right quote more quickly. It can also ensure that when you come to getting rival quotes, all prospective suppliers are operating on the same information and you can compare like for like more successfully.
Unlock the ‘local' knowledge
For many businesses, this might be the first time they’ve set about systematically documenting the requirements and processes required for manufacturing their products. Or, at least, the first time in a while they’ve been called upon to update them. So, this activity is a prime opportunity to start capturing that ‘local’ or ‘tribal knowledge’ - that is at once the great asset of a successful business, but the great inhibitor for organisations who need to grow fast.
Capturing the subtleties of Standard Operating Procedures, materials, test requirements and the particular quirks of production is helpful for any business wanting to increase productivity and efficiency.
It can help you realise opportunities for optimisation and, ultimately, make more informed decisions about what could and should be outsourced.