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What Does Electronic Contract Manufacturing Entail?

Electronic contract manufacturing is a very broad topic when we talk of printed circuit boards. This is because this plays a major role in the quality of the product.

In this article, we will be considering the main aspects of electronic contract manufacturing. Therefore, if you have been hoping to get answers to your questions regarding this topic, you are in the right place. Also, be sure that you will find all answers here.

Let’s start with what electronic contract manufacturing is all about as well as its history

What is Electronic Contract Manufacturing?

Electronic contract manufacturing is your one-stop solution, which includes component supply, PCB layout, electrical design, PCB manufacturing, PCB assembly, assembly of the end-product, maintenance of the product, and lastly, after-sale services. Furthermore, clients have to provide the ideas as well as time for delivery.

Furthermore, it is possible that clients will keep their individual R&D department. This is to help in the design as well as the outsourcing the hardware manufacturing job to the electronic contract manufacturing companies. These companies source the components, and also manufacture as well as assemble the PCBs and the final products.

Also, it is possible for the clients to keep the designing capability. They can hire different EMS companies. One can handle the manufacturing of the PCB and the assembly. Then another can handle the assembly of the end product, while a third can do the after-sale services of the product, etc.

In the case of any cooperation, the ECMs don’t usually manufacture the components. Why this is so is that there are many different sizes for packaging. Also, some of these components have unusual and custom shapes.

What is the History of Electronic Contract Manufacturing Services?

It is known that electronic contract manufacturing services started back in the 1970s. This period is the same as the establishment of Solectron.

This period, the majority of electronics manufacturing services to deliver large scale products came from in-house assembly. Also, these companies provided flexibility and also eased labor and facility issues for the smaller companies.  

The SMT development on PCBs ensured quick electronics’ assembly. Also, in the early 90s, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) were responsible for the installation of the SMT lines. The OEMs were always pulling contracts thereby making the existence of the EMS players to struggle.

However, during the mid 90s, the EMS companies enjoyed more benefits in electronic contract manufacturing while the OEMs started outsourcing the assembly of printed circuit boards on a large scale. As the 90s came to an end and the early 2000s, lots of OEMs decided to sell their factories for assembly to the EMS companies.

Reasons Why Choosing an Electronic Contract Manufacturer for Your Printed Circuit Board

Below are some reasons

When there is a need for Accuracy and High Speed of Production

A high-quality and excellent product with a minimum production time are very significant requirements to ensure success in the assembly of printed circuit boards.

With great advancements on technology along with facilities, the electronic contract manufacturers of PCB have vast experience, are trustworthy and are knowledgeable.

This is what assures the customer of high-quality printed circuit boards as well as a reduction in lead times. These experts provide some guidance when it comes to testing the printed circuit board. This avoids any further malfunctions.

When you require a One-stop Shop for Your PCB

This benefit is a very important one when searching for electronic contract manufacturers. Companies with vast experience from the ideation, installation, as well as other processes that follow can offer solutions for all the requirements of PCB fabrication.

This saves the stress of contacting different companies to get different components of PCB for assembly. They are also responsible for the handling of the processes for the PCB design to the manufacturing stage.

Also, the contract manufacturer also ensures logistics of the supply chain. This is usually a challenge for different manufacturers in the PCB industry.

When there is a Minimum Time for the Design

A PCBs design time is usually the main worry for different manufacturers of electronic components. This is because the assembly as well as the fabrication of the printed circuit board requires time. This has to do with the layers, the components, and the components in total coupled with other factors.

Also, contract manufacturers can overcome these difficulties easily as well as other challenges of the design. Why this is so is that they possess the necessary experience, expertise, as well as advanced technology.

When there is a need to reduce the operational costs and improve production

Small startups and electronic firms at times make large capital investments. Therefore, this becomes a very big deal. A very reliable way to keep these costs of operation low is when you form an affiliation with the contract manufacturers.

You can be sure that the time they spend in the market will improve, and sales will also experience an increase.

What are the Value Added Electronic Manufacturing Services?

Some of the services that the contract manufacturers offer asides from the initial work agreement include the following:

  • Electronic and Mechanical Designing as well as Fabricating
  • PCB Assembly
  • PCB reworks
  • Installing and replacing the PCB components
  • Panel assembly and box building
  • Replacing and removing BGA
  • Modifying the PCB
  • Final assembly as well as packaging of the PCB product

Factors to Consider when Choosing an Electronic Contract Manufacturer

Asides from demand, note that PCB industries are also driven by ingenuity, creativity, and innovation. Therefore, there is a need for critical evaluation when choosing the right contract manufacturer that suits your needs.

Below are some of the factors.

Quality Control

Quality control has to do with the requirements of the company for OCB as well as the market for the product. There may be a need for a partner for contract manufacturing services, having the necessary industry certifications that adhere to the regulations of the printed circuit board industry.

The major reason behind the enforcement of the industry regulations are for safety concerns. Unsurprisingly, some companies usually have some challenges when trying to comply.

Working with the best electronic contract manufacturers ensures that the printed circuit board will meet or even surpass the possible industry standards.

Turnaround Time

No matter where the application of the PCB will be, the turnaround time is very important when it comes to ensuring general success.

You should make some inquiries to know if the usual turnaround time for PCBs is similar or the same for yours. Collaboration with a contract manufacturer has to be built on trust and open communication.

When there is a good relationship, there will be no unnecessary delays and the product gets to the market on time.

Acceptance Yield Rate or Quality Level

When the quality of a PCB is questionable, then its manufacturing is insufficient. Therefore, it is very important to ask potential contract manufacturers of the PCB yield rates as well as the quality standards. The acceptance yield rate or quality levels reveal the faulty parts even before the rejection of a batch. It also reveals the minimum quality level that is tolerable in a known sample size.

Is Electronic Contract Manufacturing Cost Effective?

In contrast to self manufacturing, contract manufacturing is cost effective.

The in-house running as well as the maintenance of the manufacturing facilities is very expensive when it comes to operation costs most especially for small firms and startups.

There are lots of direct and indirect overhead costs. These include the storage, materials, equipment, and staff. Contract manufacturers ensure that there is no heavy investment on the infrastructure when giving a high-quality and cost-efficient PCB.

Can the Use of Contract Manufacturers Affect the PCB Quality?

The use of contract manufacturers doesn’t affect the quality of a PCB product at all. Contrary wise, there is a high improvement in the quality.

Some benefits include access to highly skillful personnel as well as very advanced technology. Also, they provide expertise for product improvement.

Furthermore, contract manufacturers with ISO-certification ensure that the whole process of the PCB is done in line with both international and national quality standards.

Engineering Resources that Contract Manufacturers Should Have

The following are the engineering resources that contract manufacturers should have.

  • First, is the test engineer that helps in enhancing fixtures as well as the test strategies
  • Second, are the design engineers that help in reviewing the project, as well as other changes present on the circuit
  • Third, is the control team for documentation that draws updates, as well as other changes to the PCB
  • Component engineers that fits or replaces and tests all the xilinx fpga components of the PCB
  • Lastly, are the layout engineers that changes as well as review the design for electronic contract manufacturing

Things to Focus on Anytime You’re Getting Your Quote from the Electronic Contract Manufacturer

To accurately and quickly get a quote, you have to focus on the following areas

PCB Testing

Your contract manufacturer should use different options for the PCB testing. Also, the contract manufacturer should be informed of the best testing procedure for the PCB assembly. Some other requirements to include are ITAR, conformal coating, lot tracking, and the restriction of some hazardous substances.

Bill of Materials (BOM)

One of the main things that contract manufacturers ask is the BOM or the bill of materials. This list is a detailed one, which is made of the useful raw materials, as well as the necessary components, and information regarding PCB manufacturing.

This also helps in the identification of some contract manufacturers and then a comparison is drawn on the components and material of the PCB.

Inspection Requirements

Asides from PCB testing, you have to share other inspection PCB requirements. Some of these techniques provided by the different contract manufacturers are AOI (Automated Optical Inspection), X-rays, and Flying Probe Test.

Majority of PCBs must reach some standard during the manufacturing even if it is Industry specific or IPC-regulated. Also, this contract manufacturer must be given the information very early of the necessary standards that the PCB must meet.

Quantities of PCB and their Release Sizes

Make sure to include the details of the PCB’s quantities, as well as their release sizes. These information include:

  • Quantity of order
  • Date of delivery of the first batch of PCB
  • PCB product that you want to purchase in 12 months time or the annual usage

Benefits of Using an Electronic Contract Manufacturer

Below are some benefits of using an ECM.

Accurate estimates of the cost

With contract manufacturing, you will be able to tell the right amount that you must place asides in the budget for the entire process of PCB manufacturing.

You will get the cost estimate in detail up-front. Any unexpected costs or delays will most likely not happen. This is because your contract manufacturer already has an idea of the exact cost of the project.

Also, they have an idea of the time taken for each stage because of their experience with earlier projects.

High-Quality Products

The contract manufacturers possess the necessary technology as well as expertise to help in creating top-quality PCB products. The end product of the PCB will become better and efficiently function than any own creation.


The contract manufacturer usually negotiates the bulk raw material and this increases production, however at a lesser cost. Therefore, the scaling up of production without the incurring of additional costs happens.

Reduction in Cost

You don’t have to pump so much capital on PCB designers, infrastructure, as well as other manpower. There is a great reduction in the overhead costs, which results in the reduction of ROI (return on investment).

Quick Time to the Market

As a result of the presence of advanced equipment for manufacturing, as well as an experienced staff, the contract manufacturers have what it takes to create the PCB products quickly. By doing so, this PCB product will be able to end up in the market much quickly.


Here comes the end of our article on electronic contract manufacturing. If you need clarification in any area, please let us know.



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