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How strong is the weakest link in your supply chain?

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on business long after the worst is over. Global supply chains had been getting harder to manage even before corona virus ground economies to a halt. For device manufacturers, the perceived risk associated with offshoring PCB production has since increased.

We believe this risk aversion is a big part of why our customers today seem more inclined than before to seek a human response even when ordering their PCBs online would be faster and more efficient. Measuring twice and cutting once is back in vogue, so we are having more conversations about designs ahead of production. Although we have an online ordering portal, available, customers are calling us instead. They want assurance from us, a sense that we can be depended upon to deliver on-time quality boards even under adverse circumstance.

That’s not something an automated reply from five thousand miles away can offer. Our customers are placing increased value on personal service because it reinforces confidence that their supply chains are strong.

Let’s examine why Made in the USA matters now more than ever.

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offshore manufacturing doesn't automatically equal savings.

You can sometimes save money by offshoring PCB production but consider costs — both direct and indirect — that may be minimizing or even eliminating those savings.

  • If you need the boards fast, expedited shipping can offset a lot of your potential cost savings.
  • Up-front payment terms impact cash flow and reduce leverage with the supplier.
  • When offshore PCBs fail to meet design specifications, the resources required to re-tool the boards or adapt the product to accommodate them masks the real cost of low yield.
  • Your intellectual property (IP) won’t protect itself when it travels abroad, and risk can be difficult to assess from long distance.
  • Time and effort spent coordinating and policing an overseas manufacturer on the other side of the international dateline can disrupt workflows and schedules.
  • Disruptions to routine can lead to miscommunications, misunderstandings, and expensive mistakes.

Problems with quality assurance (QA) occur frequently and are usually preceded by an absence of transparency. Collaboration with offshore manufacturers is inherently limited, and the loosely coupled relationships foster a “take what you get” paradigm. This leaves the product manager to hope PCBs are properly manufactured to design while offshore.

Learn more about our commitment to quality.

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consider the value of collaboration and transparency.

Offshoring can make good business sense for high volume runs of simple board designs, because larger potential savings better insulates your bottom line against offshore risk.

Potential savings diminishes quickly with lower production volume and risk rises with design complexity. Offshore production manufacturers optimize production by not deviating from process for non-conforming projects. This QA risk alone should give lower volume producers pause.

When you work with a manufacturing partner closer to home, you can be more confident about their labor practices and environmentally friendly manufacturing process. With more transparency during the manufacturing process, collaboration happens faster and with less effort. Issues resolve quickly, which minimizes risk to yield and PCB quality.

During prototype design, you need effective communication and coordinated effort to succeed. Transition plans, phase-ins, phase-outs, and revision control demand immediate attention that is sometimes unavailable offshore because of time zone differences or language barriers. We built our reputation by excelling in these areas.

Find out what our customers are saying about Sunstone’s commitment to quality.

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rely on quality standards you can trust

Our quality management system (QMS) sharpens our focus on it for everything from prioritizing employee wellness to achieving International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9000 certifications.

It may sound hyperbolic to assert it is quality or die for manufacturers, but in the electronics industry, it is true. The ability to consistently produce a quality product is the baseline for business success. Not doing so leads to more waste, more rework, and more returns. Poor quality translates into warranty costs, complaints, lost opportunities, and an erosion of reputation.

To stay successful as a manufacturing company, you have to always be improving and we are. Our QMS has transformed how we work, helping us more efficiently deliver to our customers and achieve an even higher standard of quality. The results have exceeded our expectations in terms of reduced costs, increased customer satisfaction, and more efficient, happier employees.

Read about our QMS journey here.

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Conversations are the foundation of quality.

In this environment, assurance is a big part of providing value and delivering quality. We are here to work with you and build PCBs that meet or exceed your needs. We know a lot of our active customers are building products vital to dealing with the pandemic and an automated reply or a confirmation number is not enough for them right now. If you are producing medical devices on an accelerated timeline, you can’t toss an order into a digital void and hope someone five thousand miles away builds your design to spec or helps resolve potential issues with it.

In uncertain times, we are committed to be the strongest link in our customer’s supply chain.

Our quote volume has stayed roughly the same ever since the pandemic took such a big bite out of productivity, but the way we receive quotes has changed. Historically, two thirds of our orders were made online and only resulted in human contact if there was an issue. Now, two thirds of the quote requests are phone calls and emails sent to sales and support.

We are available to talk to you