PCB assembly is a crucial part of manufacturing any electronic device or hardware. There is nothing in this high-tech world where PCB is not utilized to functional any device. The PCB assembly process is distinguished into several kinds based on manufacturing. The manufacturing of PCB assembly is divided into two main categories:
- High volume PCB assembly
- Low volume PCB assembly
We will see each category and its features in this article one by one. One of the first things to ask when considering a PCB assembly manufacturer is- “Can they meet my planned production volume?” We first need to understand what we mean by low or high-volume to understand this question.
A contract manufacturer thinks in of “number of pieces to be placed.” This is because the speed of the SMT pick-and-place machines is often the limiting factor in how quickly a task can be finished.
Penalization of PCB assemblies
In reality, you cannot get an idea about the exact volume of PCB assembly. This is due to the penalization of PCB assemblies. In most of the structures, the PCB designer usually makes such arrangements to fit multiple boards on a single panel or substrate. The whole panel is filled at once and then converted into individual boards in this arrangement.
So to make 10,000 little boards, we may require only 100 panels which is not a lot. But again, what matters is the overall number of pieces in work that defines the PCB assembly volume.
Introduction to High-Volume PCB Assembly
High volume PCB assembly is a batched PCB manufacturing technique. Generally, the minimum number of PCBs created in one batch is 1000. However, the procedure may include a set of 100000. As the number is enormous, this PCB assembly is a powerful volume PCB assembly method. This technique is popular in electronic manufacturing organizations because of its qualities, including process consistency, homogeneity, and automated production.
This technique provides many industrial advantages, so many electronic OEMs favor it. The following part exposes you to some evident benefits of bulk volume PCB assembly.
Benefits of High Volume PCB Assembly Process
The advantages of large volume PCB assembly are outlined as follows.
- Creating design for once only
High volume PCB assembly is a one-time design and prototyping procedure, which means that the PCBs are constructed simultaneously. Because of this, the design and prototyping of all PCBs are done at once.
- Close attention during the process to get the best results
Designers must pay close attention to the design process throughout this project phase. As many as 1000 and more PCBs may have the same design flaw, which means that a single mistake in the design might result in a significant loss. Since the PCB must operate properly, this procedure includes design and prototyping.
- Testing is mandatory
To confirm that the prototype works appropriately, we need to perform testing. Typically, PCBs that appear and function identically are favored in high-volume PCB manufacturing.
- Duration of the manufacturing process is short
As a result of the effective volume PCB assembly method, design and prototyping decrease the time needed for manufacturing. The entire process is also automated, saving time and effort by eliminating human intervention.
On the other hand, automated manufacturing cycles save time since they don’t need human labor. Automation allows for round-the-clock manufacturing, which cuts down on assembly time.
- Production Uniformity
Pre-set requirements ensure that the output is consistent. All PCBs will develop similarly, from the first to the last. Because of this, it is possible to preserve the same characteristics in this sort of PCB assembly.
For quality consistency, all PCBs are checked using the same criteria since every board is produced to the same standards. Most PCBs in high-volume manufacture are subjected to various tests, including X-ray, functionality, and onboard. All products must be able to perform under operating settings.
High volume PCB manufacturing is cost-effective. Bulk purchases reduce the price of the components and resources. Bulk manufacturing saves on the costs of custom design, production, and testing.
- Faster Time-to-Market Capabilities:
OEMs fighting for a substantial market share benefit from bulk manufacturing’s ability to get products to market more quickly. This is due to the fact that OEMs can easily pace out their manufacturing and marketing due to the enormous amount of PCBs generated at a time.
What is High-Volume Low-Mix PCB Assembly?
Almost all Consumer Electronics belong to High-Volume Low-Mix PCB Assembly. They are usually used for entertainment, communication, and education purposes, such as televisions, telephones, stereos, Hi-Fi, AR/VR, fast chargers, and even computers. They are manufactured all over the world. In addition to the huge global market, there are multiple regional markets and segments in which small and middle enterprises operate. Still, these markets always tend to reduce prices over time with manufacturers’ efficiency and technology improvements. That allows consumer electronics to continue evolving.
Most consumer electronics products are constructed from a limited number of PCBAs, which are electrically simple in design and have small functional differences. More differences come from the industrial design of the exterior. On the PCBA, it is mainly controlled by several powerful ICs, such as GPU, MCU, etc. The design of other aspects is relatively simple.
What are the pain points of High Volume Low Mix PCB Assembly?
The enhancement of software capability and the continuous upgrading of technology have accelerated the iteration speed of consumer electronics. On the one hand, more differentiation has been achieved in software, and on the other hand, the application functions of the core IC have been expanded with more powerful features. Promotion and brand strategy are more reinforced as the Differentiation Strategy. But the homogeneity in the design of hardware such as PCBA has intensified. When new products are launched, the price of old products will be squeezed, and price competition often becomes one of the main marketing methods. Products need to continue to offer costs down after they are launched. The pressure to cut prices will be transmitted retrogradely to some processing plants.
After trial production, consumer electronics will build a buffer according to a demand forecasting model. But most products will suffer drastic fluctuations in demand after it is launched. When the demand increases significantly, the supply chain needs to be able to replenish the goods quickly. Otherwise, the supply chain needs to be timely adjusted to control overall inventory risk. The supply chain of PCBA has to balance overbooking and less booking.
Short product life cycle
The life cycle of High-Volume Low-Mix PCB Assembly is usually short. The design cycle of most products is less than one year, and the sales cycle will last 1-2 years and then be replaced by next-generation products. The challenge of a short life cycle is that sellers must suffer from the high level of stock of raw material and finished goods in a market downtime. It is not enough even if they would like to offer a discount. Another potential risk is that the stock may change from slow-moving to excess, even obsolete parts. Normally, the former situation will come if the production plan cannot be timely adjusted according to the market performance. A more severe influence will occur If the compatibility between the generation and the generation products is relatively poor. Theoretically, customized mechanical/plastic parts and the unique controller will rank at the top2 of excess.
How does Eashub fix the challenge of High Volume Low Mix PCB Assembly?
The manufacturing technology of High Volume Low Mix PCB Assembly is not as complex as High-Mix Low-Volume PCB Assembly. The proportion of SMD devices is much higher than that of plug-in devices, and rarely are the devices with a special pin map or lead. A common SMT line plus DIP/wave solder line is fine for most High-Volume Low Mix PCBAs. Unique craftsmanship and testing requests are rare to use. The whole production process pursues extremely high efficiency and low cost.
Eashub can offer customers good prices in the below areas:
Labor cost: This part can be viewed as direct labor cost, determined by production regions’ wages and social security levels. Eashub’s western China plant fully uses local low-cost labor resources and maintains an advantage on labor cost.
Material cost: There are two areas in that Eashub contributes to the material price. First, Eashub can get a good deal with original manufacturers by consolidating customer demands. Second, we can recommend local alternative sources with competitive prices and good quality. We are close to the center of global electronics and establish relationships with hundreds of local suppliers.
Manufacturing overhead: We optimize the process and improve manufacturing efficiency through DFX, automation, tooling, and change inserting to SMD parts.
Regarding supply & demand management, Eashub has an independently developed smart procurement tool to monitor each production batch’s inventory cost. For High-Volume Low-Mix PCB Assembly, we will set a reasonable rolling inventory for long lead time key components based on demand history to hedge against drastic changes in market demand. And run product lifetime management process and mitigate unique IC and customized parts excess in advance. We support BTS(Build to Stock) model and BTO (Build to Order) model. and offers up to 50% flexibility in 4 weeks.
If you are looking for a candidate for high-volume, low-mix PCB Assembly , Eashub is the favorable and reliable candidate to be in contact with. Compared with others focusing only on orders, we cooperate with customers and plan the most suitable supply chain model, driving long-term competitive cost and success. Eashub’s capability on High-Volume Low-Mix PCB Assembly is as below：
|Category/Features||High Mix Low Mix Volume||Eashub’s Capability or Solutions|
|Order Quantity by batch||>3000pcs/order||Eashub’s facility has decades of manufacturing experience on low-mix high-volume electronics products.|
|Order Frequency||demand by month||Eashub normally reviews the frequency and figures out the best business model.|
|Trial Run Order Quantity||>1000pcs/order||Eashub’s NPI capability support demand starts from 1 pcs.|
|Application Area||Consumer Electronics||Multi facilities own both consumer electronics and industrial electronics assembly experience.|
|Specialty||Miniaturization or special size||Eashub owns the experience of miniaturization and no standard size.|
|Application Requirement||NA||Eashub can meet product application’s requirements on reliability, safety and environment.|
|Package Design||Yes||Eashub has the capability of packaging design including recycled package and one time package.|
|Certificate||ISO9001||All facility pass ISO9001|
|SMT||Down to 01005 size||Our SMT support 01005 size.|
|Performing||No need||10% of Eashub’s components need performance before wave the solder process.|
|DIP||Minority need DIP||All Eashub’s facilities have DIP lines.|
|ICT||Yes||Eashub standard process.|
|FCT||Yes||Eashub standard process.|
|Aqueous Washing||No||Eashub has Aqueous Washing capability.|
|Pin Insertion/||Minority needs Pin Insertion process||Eashub has Pin Insertion capability.|
|Crimping||Minority needs Crimping Process||Eashub has Crimping process.|
|ORT Test||Seldom needs ORT Test||Eashub has ORT Test capability.|
|Aging Test||Minority needs Aging Test||Eashub can support aging test with or without loading.|
|Conformal Coating||No||Eashub can support manual coating or auto coating.|
|Glue Process||Minority needs glue process||Eashub can support Glue process.|
|Assembly||Yes||Our standard process|
|Fixture capability||Yes||Eashub can in-house design or outsource.|
|Quality Standard||IPC 1, IPC 2||Quality standards meet IPC2, IPC3.|
|NPI management||Yes||Dedicate Project for each customer, and regular gate review process coverage whole product life cycle time.|
|Warranty||Yes||1 year free warranty on PCBA.|
|Cost||Competitive low price for every sections||Eashub offers regular cost down proposal after volume production, Eashub will recommend low cost sources, Lean process driving lower cost.|
|Demand fulfillment||Response to demand or forecast fast||Eashub has BTS/BTO model.|
|Quality||High yield pass ratio||MES system|
|Tractability||Minority need||Eashub has bar code system.|
|Sourcing||Reliable supply bases support smooth supply||Strictly AVL control by system driving.|
|Gating Parts||Yes||VMI or rolling buffer to mitigate the risk.|
|Excess||Excess by product upgrade||Eashub can deliver in a very short lead time, this will help customers mitigate excess on the basis.|
Introduction to Low Volume PCB Assembly
Low-volume PCB assembly is the board manufacturing’s most adaptable process. Prototype circuit board assembly’s design principles must be in practice to achieve high-quality results.
Three stages are involved in the fabrication of printed circuit boards. Board construction, component sourcing, and PCB assembly are all included in this category. Your contract manufacturer’s (CM) equipment and procedures must be synchronized with your design to maximize the efficiency of these three production operations.
The quality of your boards and adherence to CM’s DFM regulations and standards are correlated. To obtain the maximum yield rate and the lowest production costs, strict adherence to DFM and DFA is required for production, whether low or significant volume.
Regardless of the stage of development or manufacturing, your board’s fabrication is likely to stay unchanged until design revisions demand otherwise. It depends on whether you’re building a prototype (or improving your design) or putting together delivery boards for customers when it comes to assembly.
Compared to high volume PCB manufacturing, low-volume manufacturing is possible in several circumstances. PCBAs for aircraft, medical devices, industrial machinery, automobiles, or military applications, for example, must meet stringent quality standards.
Low-volume PCB assembly, as stated below, is an integral aspect of the development process for every board. Components are mounted on a modest number of blank PCBs, which may vary from a handful to no more than 250.
Although the stages for assembly are clearly specified, there is a lot of room for creativity. Board development may be made much more efficient if you use this technique correctly.
Your Design Can Be Proved Using Low Volume PCBs
The fundamentals of effective PCB design should be implemented in every circuit board creation. If you’re going to develop a prototype, you’ll need to know about the many solutions available to speed up the design-build-test iteration process, which is usually referred to as prototyping. Sequential prototyping and parallel prototyping are also subcategories of this approach.
Options for Low-Volume PCB Assembly Prototyping
As mentioned earlier, in low volume PCB assembly, there are two options for prototyping which are following.
- Sequential prototyping
- Parallel prototyping
The most frequent way to verify a design is using sequential prototyping to include and test a single or limited number of design modifications over time.
Manufacturing runs may be cut in half or even halved using parallel prototyping. When repeated design modifications are applied to a limited number of boards and then tested prior to the next manufacturing run, this is accomplished. All of the bare boards are made in the same way; however, these variations are only used in the assembling process.
What are the pain points of High-Mix Low-Volume PCB Assembly?
Complex Manufacturing Process
High-Mix Low-Volume PCB Assembly requires multi-manufacturing technologies, including SMT, DIP, wiring harness assembly, case assembly, etc. Regarding DIP, There are two solutions: automated equipment such as selective wave soldering machine and manual inserting. But for most industries, a selective wave soldering machine is not an economical option. So far, manual inserting is still the best solution for most industries. But whatever automated or manual work, the result should meet the below criteria:
- A certain ratio of components needs performing process before production.
The height of the lead on the welding surface of the insert components is 1.5 to 2.0 mm, the solder joints should be smooth without burrs and slightly arc-shaped, and the solder should exceed 2/3 of the height of the soldering end but should not exceed the height of the soldering end.
- Height of solder joints: The height of solder climbing pins should not be less than 1mm for a single panel, not less than 0.5mm for a double panel, and need to penetrate in.
- The shape of the solder joint: it is conical and covers the entire pad.
- Solder joint surface: smooth and bright, no black spots, flux and other debris, no spikes, pits, pores, exposed copper, and other defects.
- Solder joint strength: fully wetted with pads and pins, without false soldering.
- Cross-section of solder joints: The cutting lead of the components should not be cut to the soldered part as much as possible, and there is no cracking phenomenon on the contact surface between the pins and the solder. There are no spikes and barbs at the cross-section.
- Connector welding: The Connector needs to be inserted into the bottom board, and the position and direction are correct. After the connector is welded, the bottom floating height should not exceed 0.5mm, and the seat body should not be skewed beyond the silk screen frame. The rows of needle seats should also be kept neat, and no dislocation or unevenness is allowed.
So a large number of trained employees is needed in the DIP process. For some mega EMS, the DIP procedure is a challenge they cannot complete. Cause it needs a high standard quality control system and spot management capabilities to reduce human errors.
Additional Engineering Requests
In addition to general X-RAY, AOI, ICT, FCT testing, HMLM PCBA always have additional request on testing and engineer capability, these are:
- High Voltage Test
- ORT Test (Ongoing Reliability Test)
- 3. Safety Testing
- Burn-in test
- RF Testing
- Conformal Coating
- Product traceability
Some of the above requests require customized equipment, some require joint development with customers, while the rest need the factory to have strong software systems like MES.
Supply chain challenges are everywhere, and many supply chain costs appear as hidden costs rather than direct costs：
Warehousing costs There are diverse materials in the BOM of High-Mix Low-Volume PCBA, including electrical and electronic components, connectors, cable and wire harnesses, mechanical and plastic parts, etc., and the volume varies greatly. Each type of material needs to have corresponding incoming inspection standards and storage methods. It requires several times more storage space than ordinary consumer electronic products. automated kitting methods often do not work. More, The warehouse laborers need to reserve scrap for each PCBA build because the scrap ratio of Hign Mix Low Volume PCBA is much higher than that of High Volume Low Mix PCBA; at the same time, there are a large number of mantissa items that need to be counted and managed.
Complexity management An electronic product is assembled from a series of PCBAs. It is necessary to consider the cadence issues between sub-level PCBAs. Even though there are individual PCBAs with simple requirements in the list, such as LED light PCBA, the overall schedule can’t be expedited easily. Customers still evaluate the manufacturing cycle time according to the full series.
Material cost: Material cost is divided into two types; the purchase unit price determines the direct material cost. Because the purchase batch of High Mix Low Volume PCBA is usually not large, it isn’t easy to obtain a competitive price, In the case of direct cost, the unit price of the material may be acceptable. But when we count the total inventory amount of all raw materials purchased for this batch, that is, the hidden material cost, we may be shocked by the total amount purchased for that batch build. There is a MOQ minimum order quantity. For example, for a single FPGA chip mounted on PCBA of equipment, the product demand is 500PCS, Unit price is $10, but we have to buy a reel 2000PCS, rest of 1500PCS will become slow-moving inventory, with amount is $15000, and have to wait at least several quarters to consumed. The worst may be excess or obsolete after demand changes.
Low Manufacturing Efficiency
The production line for High-Mix Low Volume PCBA is completely different from HVLM PCBA’s. In the latter’s production line, planning managers do not need to issue production change orders frequently, and the production takt remains constant over time. It is not feasible for a factory producing HMLV PCBA to arrange a few parallel lines for each PCBA in a series of Products. A dynamic balance must be maintained between switch line efficiency and production efficiency; Since each manufacturing procedure of each PCBA is variant on takt, the arrangement of the production line must create sufficient flexibility to deploy resources and switch products to build enough PCB Assembly for a whole series. But overall, the output ratio is still low compared to High-Volume Low-Mix PCBA.
What does Eashub fix the challenge of Low-Volume High-Mix PCB Assembly?
EASHUB’s factories have the ability and experience to produce High-Mix, Low-Volume PCBAs. Our standard manufacturing procedures are incoming material inspection, warehouse, and storage management, material kitting, SMT and reflow welding, DIP and Wave sold welding, ICT, FCT, conformal coating, wire harness assembly, and box assembly. Our factories have dozens of SMT lines, DIP wave solder lines, X-Ray and Online AOI, and a few box assembly lines.
We also have a selective conformal coating line and manual coating line, an aging chamber, and a test lab. Our testing equipment is majorly from global leader equipment suppliers like Teradyne, Takaya, and NI Software. Lastly, our strategy factory also has barcode scanning and traceability systems SAP and MES system.
Eashub’s production method is more flexible and efficient. First, we do not configure redundant production lines to solve the simultaneous production of multiple PCBAs. Each line and section is produced as much as possible. Still, through our effective training, in the back-end process, Our employees own the capability of handling multiple processes, such as component performing, DIP, box assembly, and back-end welding, which makes our technicians in the back-end more flexible. A few of our production lines use the cell line production method to level the rhythm between each procedure and ensure that the production process can use the shortest time and the least personnel changes to minimize the loss of line change. We recommend suitable automated production solutions, such as selective DIP machines for some large-scale and mature products.
Unlike other EMS, we will calculate the unit price and inventory costs for each batch of High-Mix, Low-Volume PCBA. We had developed a self-owned smart sourcing tool; In the PCBA Prototype stage, we will purchase by prototype need rather than buying the whole package. After mass production, we will simulate the inventory cost of the product life cycle based on the frequency of demand and the quantity of a single batch, then purchase based on MPQ to achieve maximum sales with the minimum hidden inventory cost. The 2nd price benefit from Eashub is as a leading PCB Assembly solutions provider, we have a better contract price after we consolidate customers’ demand.
If you have a demand for high volume low, mixed electronics products, where those products have special requirements like component packages, component specifications, assembly technologies, levels of density, and manufacturing environments is required, Eashub is your ideal candidate, and As a reliable contract manufacturer, we are proficient in providing the PCB assembly services on high mix low volume products, our major facilities own decades years of building complex PCBA for automotive, industrial control customers.
We don’t have a minimum order quantity request and favor the most complex design to continue enhancing our capability. Everybody shares the same goals of on-demand order fulfillment and lower costs of goods sold, but the ability to realize giants from the supply chain is not the same with totally different product mix and volume ratios. You must fix more challenges both on technology and supply chain on high mix low volume products than other products. Eashub is a professional who helps customers to fix the challenge in the supply chain. Our expectation is to help small and middle-size companies, where most are providing high mix low, volume portfolios, to enjoy the leading supply chain services. You can quickly check Eashub’s capability on high mix low volume PCB Assembly as below：
|Features||High Mix Low Mix Volume||Eashub’s Capability or Solutions|
|Order Quantity by batch||<500pcs/order||Eashub’s facility has decades of manufacturing experience on variant high mix low volume electronics products.|
|Order Frequency||demand by quarter||Eashub normally reviews the frequency and figure out the best business model.|
|Trial Run Order Quantity||<100pcs/order||Eashub’s NPI capability supports demand start from 1 pcs.|
|Application Area||Industrial Electronics||Multi facilities own both consumer and industrial electronics assembly experience.|
|Specialty||High Power, High Frequency||Eashub owns experience on manufacturing high power, high-frequency products for industrial control for Automotive and Telecom PCBs.|
|Application Requirement||High reliability, Safety||Eashub can meet meet the product application’s reliability, safety and environmental requirements.|
|Package Design||Yes||Eashub owns the capability of packaging design including recycle package and one time package.|
|Certification||ISO9001, TF16949, TS13485, ESD2.0||Our core facility pass IATF16949, ISO13485, ESD2.0.|
|SMT||Down to 0201 size||Our SMT supports 01005 size|
|Performing||Yes||10% of Eashub’s components need performing before wave solder process|
|DIP||Majority needs DIP||All our facilities have DIP lines|
|ICT||Yes||Eashub’s standard process|
|FCT||Yes||Eashub’s standard process.|
|Aqueous Washing||Seldom needs Aqueous Washing Process||Eashub has Aqueous Washing capability.|
|Pin Insertion||Majority needs Pin Insertion Process||Eashub has Pin Insertion capability.|
|Crimping||Majority needs Crimping Process||Eashub has Crimping process.|
|ORT Test||Majority needs ORT Test||Eashub has ORT Test capability.|
|Aging Test||Majority needs Aging Test||Eashub can support aging test with or without loading.|
|Conformal Coating||Majority needs Conformal Coating||Eashub can support manual coating or auto coating.|
|Glue Process||Majority needs glue process||Eashub can support a few Glue process.|
|Assembly||Yes||Our standard process.|
|Fixture capability||Yes||Eashub can in-house design or outsource.|
|Quality Standard||IPC 2, IPC 3||Quality standards meet up to IPC 3.|
|NPI management||Yes||Dedicate Project manager for each customer, and regular gate review process coverage whole product life cycle time.|
|Warranty||Yes||1 year free warranty on PCBA.|
|Cost||Rational price||Recommend low cost sources, Consolidate demand to get a lower value added cost, Eashub eliminate excess by support buy for demand.|
|Demand fulfillment||Response to order in short cycle time||Eashub has BTO model.|
|Quality||High yield pass ratio, tractability on key components||MES system|
|Tractability||Majority need||Eashub has bar code system.|
|Sourcing||Reliable supply bases support||Strictly AVL control by system driving and a quick process on vendors with qualification on vendors with qualification.|
|Gating Parts||Yes||Critical buffer or quick source fix the risk.|
|Excess||Big excess pressure causes by demand less than MOQ||Eashub buy based on actual demand quantity, Eashub has a leading intelligent supply chain tool to fix it.|
Fundamental Differences Between Low and High Volume PCB assemblies
Here we will discuss the fundamental differences between the two types of groups.
High volume PCB assembly essentially implies bulk PCB production. In this sort of PCB assembly, more than 1000 PCBs are created in one cycle of manufacturing. While in low volume, you can go for 250 or a lesser number.
High volume PCB manufacturing is utilized for high-demand conventional or bespoke PCB assemblies. This procedure is particularly prevalent in high-end contemporary electronic manufacturing organizations. On the other hand, low volume is applicable in less advanced technologies.
The high PCB assembly process is automated in order to make it efficient and eco-friendly. On the other hand, low volume PCB assembly allows you to be creative and have your own design according to your requirements.
Frequent Asking Questions (FAQs)
- How can you define PCB Assembly?
All components have been soldered and mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB) before it is referred to as a printed circuit board assembly (PCA) (PCB). Using the conductive paths etched into the PCB’s laminated copper sheets, the body is constructed on a non-conductive substrate.
- Are SMT and SMD the same thing?
The SMT employs a mounting method for the PCB that includes mounting and soldering surfaces. As opposed to this, using SMD tools refers to placing an electronic component on a PBC.
- Why are the costs of PCB assembly so high?
Due to precise pitch and leadless components, the PCB assembly quotation might be expensive. Their specialized assembly and inspection methods need this.
- Precisely what is PCBA material?
Following the printing of solder paste on the PCB, different components like resistors, ICs (Integrated Circuits), capacitors, and any other components like transformers may be mounted on the board based on the application and desired qualities.
Both low and high-volume PCB manufacturing have their own pros and cons. You need to select each method according to your need. For bulk work, a high-volume PCB is suitable. While for more customized orders, low volume PCB assembly is ideal.