Are you in need of a good supplier for Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs)?

The truth is that every year, EMS and OEM companies try to find ways of reducing costs in the supply chain. In fact, some people have traveled the world looking for quality direct suppliers. All too often, this kind of search and required travel results in gathering business cards and brochures but not finding and selecting a good printed circuit board supplier that they are comfortable with.

Sometimes, it can take years to find a high-quality printed circuit board supplier, which is frustrating and expensive.

If you are currently looking for a supplier of PCBs, one that you can trust, be sure to consider the potential risks before you make the hiring decision.

  • Trading Companies – The majority of suppliers of PCBs that you would meet at trade shows and those you hear from via email are not actually suppliers. Instead, they are what is referred to as trading companies, meaning they quote your product to anyone and everyone who has ownership in or a link to a PCB factory.

    In addition, they are not the factory and do not directly represent the factory.

    However, if any factories they know of cannot provide what you need, they will do everything possible to find one that will, regardless of their capabilities. This means that you could easily connect with a factory that knows nothing about what you do. Ultimately, your product ends up in the UL data of someone else due to documentation being fabricated.

  • Inadequate Supply Chain Control – Whether a trading company or direct PCB supplier, if you do not have any information about them or spend time with them in person, be prepared to be possibly be scammed or cheated. Unfortunately, horror stories are heard all the time about trading companies and direct suppliers.
  • Lack of Payment Terms – Typically, only pre-pay is accepted by trading companies and direct suppliers. Keep in mind, this puts you at risk for having your cash flow hit hard at a time when you need it most. The difference between an immediate, up front payment demand and the optional extension of 30 day terms, can make or break a growing business.
  • No Control Over Shipping Costs – When it comes to international shipping, the cost and risk is high. The rates for international shipping are seldom cheap coming from major shipping companies. To get lower rates, there has to be a long history, excellent negotiations, perfect coordination, and an abundance of effort. … Waters that are not too easily navigated by an untrained, inexperienced person or team.
  • Compliance with Customs – For managing customer compliance, as well as details for all other important issues, it is imperative that you learn all of the customs requirements or hire someone who is already versed and familiar with the key terms and expectations.
  • Poor Quality Control – Because there are so many lines of communication, managing quality becomes increasingly more difficult. Unfortunately, if a product is sent that you are not able to return in exchange for a refund or purchase credit, many trading companies and suppliers have no problem in breaking ties with the relationship and moving on with little remorse.
  • Not Saying No – One of the most frightening of all aspects when dealing with suppliers in Asia is that no one wants to deny business. Literally, there are family members and friends of trading companies and suppliers that will try to do the work or find someone that they believe can do the work. Even worse, these people will go as far as committing to a lead time just to secure the business. Sadly, when they are late in delivering, all you can do is wait and wish for an improved and speedy resolution. The opportunity to start over at this point and find a more efficient supplier, most certainly will exceed expected costs and turn around requirements.
  • Returns and Credits – Once you have paid for all of the product, you will find that no one is interested in taking it back even upon receipt of claims of low quality, inferior workmanship, etc. The reason is that trading companies and suppliers have thin margins, so when they process a return, they take a loss. Very few times will you find a supplier who is actually willing to offer you a credit.

These are just a few examples of the many potential issues that happen when trying to find a direct supplier of PCBs. This is why you should always hire a company with a solid reputation, one that has experience and expertise in this area.

By doing so, you will not only improve your company’s profitability, but you will end up with happy customers and increased confidence in yourself and your business decision making.