Inside almost every electronic device is a printed circuit board, and the number of new electronic devices reaching the market is constantly growing. As such, the demand for electronic assemblies is constantly increasing, with some companies requiring prototype and low volume batches, and others requiring much higher volume.
To remain competitive and relevant there is a constant drive for newer, more innovative products. Businesses are now realising the need to carry out product development and releases at a much faster pace than ever before. This is one of the driving reasons why companies are opting to manufacture small batch runs. Another reason that small batch production is becoming more relevant than ever, is because there are more companies designing bespoke electronic solutions to fairly distinct problems, therefore only requiring a low volume of units to be produced.
This article will identify and explore the advantages that small-batch production can bring to your company:
Getting your product to market before competitors may well be a priority. As such turn-around time may be a key requirement when choosing your PCB Assembly partner. It is common sense that a smaller batch will take less time to manufacture. This is true for both the setup of the build and for the assembly run itself. Low-volume manufacturing can give the necessary push while you prepare for mass-production. Using low volume manufacture can often mean you can release your first batch of a new/improved product ahead of your competitors. It can also be a valuable tool for getting a number of prototype boards available for evaluation.
The manufacture of small batches differs from that of high-volume production. Often businesses that offer mass-production are hesitant towards changes to their processes to facilitate smaller batches, or where they will adapt, there will be a hefty one-off cost associated with it. Volume manufacturers will often impose an MOQ that is far higher than the number of boards you may need. Although the price per board decreases significantly, it is overshadowed by the number of ‘useful’ boards. It is not as smart to produce thousands of boards in one run if you only intend to sell a few hundred each month. Managing the costs associated with a small production batch is much less of a challenge than dealing with those of a high-volume run.
Small batch production lends itself very well to changes to the design. The agility and flexibility of companies manufacturing boards in low volume is far higher. Changes to the design during the setup stage or the actual run itself are not out of the question. Similarly, any special requirements will often be facilitated by a small-batch production company. Keeping the batch size low is particularly relevant if the design is still a work-in-progress – and further changes or improvements may well be on the horizon. With growing demand for new technology, it makes less sense to tie yourself to one particular iteration of a design by mass producing it, unless you are confident you will sell all that you produce.
Where there are concerns that a particular design might not perform entirely as expected; maybe where a slight change to the prototype is necessary but not fully evaluated, then small batch production may be a good stepping stone to volume production. It’s better to have 50 boards that need reworking or scrapping than having 1000. It is also worth investigating possible manufacturing problems of a small batch where costs of solving the problem are relatively cheap and don’t affect huge production lines. It’s better to foresee and resolve manufacturing issues with a product on a small scale rather than a large scale where the cost implications are far more relevant.
By utilising a small-batch product release it enables development teams to work directly on feedback of earlier release ready to make changes on later versions. Often the PCB assembly (hardware) can benefit from changes and improvements here and there, whether it’s to improve the customers experience, reduce the complexity/cost, or improve the reliability/performance of the design. Businesses, including start-ups, strongly rely on this constant development based on feedback from supporters and customers. Using a small-batch style of manufacture and development ultimately results in a superior product tailored to the target market, and the product can continue to adapt as technology and requirements change.
Talk To The Experts At HGL Systems
If you need small batch or prototype batches then HGL Systems are in a great position to provide a solution. Unlike larger volume-driven companies which lack the agility and flexibility of HGL Systems, we take pride in our customer driven approach to each job we take on regardless of the size of the order.