You should feel very proud of yourself for how far you’ve come in building your business thus far. You’ve figured out how to manufacture in-house, a fine feat—but have unfortunately begun to hit your max capacity. What to do now? Growth is always a good thing, but you may need to pivot to keep things going at such a great rate.
Fuel your success and don’t get caught up in slowdowns. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it.
Here’s how you can start planning to bring on additional resources, such as an outsourced PCB manufacturer, and how to know when is the right time to do so. After reading this post you’ll have a better idea of how to go about taking on an influx of incoming orders—and thereby continue to grow your business beyond your wildest dreams.
The First Step: Deciding Where to Hire
First, you need to figure out if you want to go with an onshore or offshore manufacturer.
If you choose to work with a PCB manufacturer overseas, you may find yourself saving a good deal of money. As for potential downsides to consider when making your decision, you may find it a bit challenging to communicate with overseas manufacturers both due to time zone differences and language barriers, and this could slow down your process. At the same time, having multiple checkpoints heightens the possibility of receiving lower quality or contaminated parts—logistics can be difficult to manage overall when you’re talking long-distance.
On the other hand, when you hire an onshore manufacturer, the aforementioned struggles virtually melt away. There are typically no impediments to the process caused by timezones, differing languages, or anything of that nature. Rather, you’d have someone local that you can always connect with when needed, plus you’d likely enjoy faster production and shipping processes. Customs, tariffs, and other government regulations become a non-issue and you’d find yourself with multiple payment options that you may find more convenient.
It’s very normal for a smaller facility or one that is very specialized to run into trouble with high-volume orders—so depending on your situation, use these pros and cons to help you determine what’s best for your business.
When to Know It’s Time to Hire a Manufacturer
Now that you have a stronger sense of the potential advantages of utilizing an onshore PCB manufacturer, it’s time to make your plan. What’s the next step forward? Assess whether it’s time to bring on the additional assistance. The following are some tips you can use to aid in your strategy and brainstorming.
You Can’t Scale and You’re Losing Money
Are you falling behind on orders? Losing customers? Do you find yourself feeling stuck where you’re at and unable to grow the business on your own? It may be time to enlist an outside resource for the manufacturing you need.
You Lack the Additional Expertise
You’ll also want to find a PCB manufacturer who knows more than you. You should be an expert in your business and your end product, but in order to level up in the future or produce different products, you’ll want to work with manufacturing experts. Ideally, the best manufacturers will help with prototyping, development, and production. They’ll give input and help you figure out a way to produce the product you require.
If you want to simply hand over your specifications and don’t want the manufacturer involved, that’s fine, too. Just keep that in mind for future endeavors that they may not be of much help to you except to execute your plans.
What to Look for in a PCB Manufacturer
Manufacturing unfortunately has a bit of a “scamming” reputation. In order to not get burned and to ensure you’re able to propel your business in the right direction (forward), here are some things to look for in a PCB manufacturer.
Their Technical Experience
Make sure the manufacturer in question is actually doing the manufacturing in-house, in their own facility. Some manufacturers give the illusion that they produce items in-house—while really, they’re outsourcing, themselves. If you have highly technical (or incredibly strict) specs for your product, you will want to see if the manufacturer has the capabilities and experience to produce what you need without any flaws.
Experience in Your Industry
Since you’re specifically looking for a PCB manufacturer, it’s likely that whoever you interview will have experience in your industry—so instead, you might want to see how long they’ve been in business and how many other companies they have partnered with for manufacturing purposes. In addition, you’ll want to find out how many boards they can produce and in what amount of time.
Reputation and References
Surely you’ve heard horror stories about manufacturing gone bad. If you’re ever seen an episode of Shark Tank, hiring an undependable or untrustworthy manufacturer can ruin your business and cause an incredible amount of headache. Therefore, before partnering with any manufacturer, make sure to validate their legitimacy by asking for references, looking at reviews online, and even seeing what trade shows they’ve attended. If you’re not able to meet in person, you’ll want to talk to other people in your industry to snuff out any potential scams.
What to Have Prepared Yourself When Hiring a PCB Manufacturer
At this point, if you’ve found a provider that you’ve vetted and who you like and feel you’re ready to make moves, you can start prepping for your new partnership.
Have Your CAD Designs
Since you’ve already been manufacturing yourself, you should have the production process down pat. You will be sharing your CAD designs with the manufacturer and it should be a pretty seamless process. The key question is going to be, can they really make this product for you or not?
Know Your Cost
You should also be well aware, from your own experiences, of what it should take you to manufacture your product in-house. When hiring a manufacturer, you’ll need to know what to keep your budget at, so it’s a good thing that you already have at the very least a rough idea of what that should look like. You, of course, want to see to it that you’re never getting ripped off.
Know Your Timeline
Since you’re planning to build a relationship with your PCB manufacturer long-term, you’ll probably have multiple deadlines throughout your engagement with them. You’ll want to get hard deadlines on when batches of your boards can be completed by, and how much of a head’s up they’ll need for any new orders.
Time To Find a PCB Manufacturer That Works for YOU
Knowing when to partner with a PCB manufacturer is the first step in setting yourself up for impressive growth. By having everything prepared and finding a trustworthy partner, hiring a PCB manufacturer should be an easy task—and one you’ll thank yourself for setting up, for many years to come.