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The Essential Guide to Wire Harness Manufacturing Process

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: February 22, 2022
Wire Harness Manufacturing Process

Wire Harness Manufacturing process is an extremely specialized process that involves several measured steps. Before we get into them, let us look at the difference between a cable assembly and a wire harness.

Simply put a cable assembly is an external connection to devices and needs to take into account factors such as:

  • Thickness
  • Flexibility
  • Type of insulation

A wire harness, on the other hand, offers connectivity between systems in an electromechanical assembly. Wire harnesses are built on panels that has pegs. The harness, therefore, is laid out to bespoke dimensions. It is important to remember that the more detailed and precise the specifications, there will be fewer issues on the assembly floor. Some of the information that the contract manufacturer will require in order to build the wire harness, includes:

  • Connector images with pin locations
  • Wire lists
  • Detailed BOM with part numbers
  • Assembly drawing
  • Test specifications

Best Practices in Wire Harness Design

The benefits of good wire harness design includes the fact that it improves the service life of wires, optimizing the space required for wires, organizing all wires in one place for easy access. It is imperative therefore that best practices be followed when it comes to wire harness design.

Some of the best practices in wire harness design include:

  • Identifying problems that could be posed by the physical environment such as moisture, temperature, electrical interference and more.
  • Choosing the correct routing option.
  • Ensuring that exact measurements are adhered to when it comes to cutting wires and calculating the bend radius.
  • The harness must fit correctly in the space it is intended for. It is important, therefore, to take the size of the outer protective casing into account.
  • The type of terminals and how they fit into the wire radius is also an important design decision.

Important Steps in the Manufacturing Process to Build Your Wire Harness

The broad steps followed by contract manufacturers to build a wire harness include:

  • Robust design review – Basis your design, the contract manufacturer will examine the entire documentation and Bill of Materials to see that everything is in place.
  • Preparing the material – Post finalization of the Bill of Materials, the components and materials required for production and test of the harness are purchased.
  • Assembly documentation – The Contract manufacturer will also create a detailed Assembly Documentation including:
    • Assembly steps
    • Images
    • Test procedures.
  • Prototype – Typically before producing the wire harness, the contract manufacturer creates a prototype. This helps to perfect the assembly and to ensure that the quality expectations are met.
  • Production of Wire Harness – The building of the wire harness involves cutting the wire to length and laying it on the assembly panel. The next steps involve adding connectors, tying bundles of wires and attaching labels.
  • Testing – A detailed testing protocol is finally undertaken. The harness is checked for a number of issues including:
    • Construction
    • Labeling
    • Checked for usage on-site

Dos and Don’ts to be followed in building the Wire Harness:

Below are some of the tips to be followed when it comes to building the wire harness assembly:

  • The termination recommendations for attaching the wires need to be followed. The recommendations could be in the form of stripped and bare or stripped and tinned.
  • Similarly, the recommendations for torque values on fasteners need to be followed.
  • Generic specifications for wires such as 300V or 600V need to be adhered to. It is best not to give the contract manufacturer a specific UL code. That way the contract manufacturer can use wires that fit the requirement, are available and that are cost-effective.

As a thumb rule it is imperative that you work with the contract manufacturer from the early stages of development so that the electronic contract manufacturer can help with the selection of best performing parts. Additionally, it is advisable to go with a contract manufacturer that has experienced engineers with the necessary expertise who are equipped with industry best practices so that you do not land up making any costly mistakes in the wire harness manufacturing process.

Mer-Mar Electronics has been in the business for over 40 years and has a skilled & experienced engineering team who works on different design systems. Our manufacturing experts build your PCBs, cable assemblies, wire harnesses, and more. In case if you have any questions or require more information about cable and wire assemblies services, get in touch with us via sales@mermarinc.com or call us on (760) 244-6149.

The NPI in PCB Assembly Process: A Guide for Electronics Manufacturers

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 12, 2022
New Product Introduction

Introducing new products is both an exciting process, as well as one that is fraught with risk. For one, it requires collecting authentic data and having a well-organized process. It is only this kind of discipline that can ensure the introduction of repeatable, high-quality products in the market.

What really is New Product Introduction (NPI)?

New Production introduction results from a process that ensures serial production of a product. It enables the transformation of a prototype into a fully finished end product. There is continuous iteration until the end result is achieved.

PCB Assembly & New Product Introduction (NPI)

For companies dealing in PCB assembly, it is extremely important to implement the NPI process. It guarantees repeatability of the production process and helps prevent errors besides ensuring that you do not have to deal with any unexpected costs. PCB Assembly companies that use New Product Introduction as a process are therefore able to offer high-quality products to customers.

Key Benefits of New Product Introduction Assembly

Some of the advantages of New Product Introduction, include:

  • Detects potential errors at the design stage and leads to improved production efficiencies.
  • The many tests performed before a new product is introduced such as SPI/X-Ray inspection, RLCD examination, and verification of documentation ensures that the final product meets customer requirements.
  • Since NPI involves development of a production process that follows best practices, it also ensures that any steps that aren’t of value are eliminated. That this results in time saving is a given.
  • Additionally, it gives the PCB Assembly supplier full control over each phase of the process. It also offers quick time-to-market capabilities that is a priceless advantage given the competitive times.
  • Streamlined processes ensure that there aren’t any last-minute revisions or changes. In turn, this results in a reduction in PCB manufacturing costs.

Steps in New Product Introduction (NPI)

The NPI process can be broken into the following steps:

  1. Define: This is a crucial step since it scopes the product’s functional performance. Some of the areas to be defined in this phase include:
    • Primary Objectives
    • Scope of the project
    • Key Deliverables
    • Converting product functional requirements into designs through the process of Quality Function Development.
  2. Feasibility Analysis: This stage involves reviewing product design concepts and ascertaining the feasibility of success.

  3. Development: At the development phase DFM principles are taken into account. Some of the activities undertaken in this phase include:
    • 3D Models
    • Concept level Drawings
    • Bill of Materials
    • DFM & DFA reviews, and more.
  4. Testing: Robust testing right from conceptualization to design and manufacturing phases is undertaken, so as to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the product.

  5. Implementation: This stage involves creating documentation related to the product including:
    • Manuals
    • Catalogues, and more.
  6. Evaluation: In this phase product review is undertaken that includes analyzing customer feedback.

  7. Full-scale Production: The product is finally ready for full-scale production.

New Product Introduction (NPI) Best Practices

While NPI is a complex process, some of the best practices involved in the New Product Introduction Assembly include:

  1. Consistency – One of the aspects that ensures consistency is to assign a NPI number to the product. Automating this process ensures that there isn’t the risk of any errors that accrue on account of any manual data collection.
  2. Data authentication – This, of course, is a very crucial aspect of New Product Development. Ensuring availability of verified data and the right equipment eases the New Product Introduction Process.
  3. First batch size – It is important to determine the optimal size of the first batch of products. It doesn’t work very well to produce the entire batch in the first round.
  4. NPI Assembly supervision – It is extremely important for an NPI engineer to consistently supervise assembly. It is useful to document all observations during the process to be able to ensure constant improvement.
  5. Change of status and reporting – Detailed reports that explain the product building process including a description of all the issues that arose during the assembly phase are a must-have. The use of specialized analytical tools can ensure elimination of errors during production as well as assembly.

NPI (New Product Introduction) in PCB Assembly

In the PCB assembly field, it is extremely important to continuously monitor the NPI PCB assembly process as well as document all conclusions. This ensures that every subsequent batch’s quality keeps going up.

As a leading PCB manufacturer in the USA, Mer-Mar Electronics delivers PCB manufacturing services with specialized support, reliable testing, and multi-functional features. Our consistent quality and quick turnaround time captivate us to our customers, who look on us as a one-stop shop for all their PCB requirements. To know more contact us at sales@mermarinc.com or call us on (760) 244-6149.

SMD Vs SMT – What is the difference?

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: January 11, 2022
smd-vs-smt

With both SMD and SMT growing in popularity, they are often used interchangeably. It is perhaps also because both work hand in hand to offer reliable PCBs. It is, however, important to differentiate between them.

Simply put, SMT refers to Surface Mount Technology, which is an PCB assembly technique that helps arrange components on the circuit board. SMD, on the other hand, refers to Surface Mount Devices. These are components fitted onto the circuit boards. They are designed to be mounted directly on the PCB.

Let us look at both in some more detail:

What is SMT (Surface Mount Technology)?

Surface Mount Technology is a relatively newer way of arranging components on the printed circuit board. Prior to this, components were arranged using through holes where component leads are placed into drilled holes on a bare PCB. Surface Mount Technology, on the other hand, involves soldering the components directly onto the boards. Since there is no need to pass leads through the PCB, the process is far quicker as well as cost-efficient. The big advantage with SMT PCB assembly is that it saves space. What it means is that more components can be housed on a smaller board. In times of miniaturization of devices, its advantage cannot be overstated.

The broad process involved in SMT include:

Printing- This involves applying a coat of solder paste onto the pads of the PCB

Mounting- This refers to placing the surface mount components accurately onto the pads.

Reflow Soldering- This process involves melting the solder paste by passing the board and components through a hot oven.

Testing- The final process involves testing of the boards through processes such as AOI which runs a number of quality checks on the boards such as component alignment and checking for solder bridges.

As is evident from the above processes, SMT is an intricate process that involves applying the right amount of solder paste to mount each component. SMT also lends itself to automation as machines can be programmed to mount components on the PCB in a short time frame. This ensures accuracy while also speeding up the production process and making go-to-market that much quicker.

Some of the other advantages of SMT include:

  • Significant savings in weight and real estate.
  • Reduced cost of the board as also a reduction in material handling costs.
  • Stability and better mechanical performance.
  • Components can be placed on both sides of the board and in higher density.
  • PCBs created with the surface mount technology process offer higher circuit speed. Also, because SMD components have no leads or have short leads, RF interference is reduced.
  • It offers more resistance to vibration and there is less noise.

The drawbacks of SMT however include the fact that it requires a high capital investment that can increase costs, particularly when you are dealing with low volume runs. SMT inspection equipment can also turn out to be very costly.  Additionally, SMD components are prone to damage if dropped. Also, the power of such components is generally less.

What is SMD (Surface Mounted Device)?

Surface Mounted Devices are the components fitted onto PCBs. Evolved SMDs use pins that can be soldered directly onto the PCBs as opposed to using leads and wiring them through the circuit board. It enables many more components to be fitted on the board and improving its functionality. With no holes to be drilled, they also make the process quicker and cost-effective.
What is important is to choose the right SMDs and then mount them correctly on the board. SMDs can now be automatically mounted onto the electronic board as opposed to manually soldering them.

Some of the various types of SMD include:

  • Chip Resistors
  • Network Resistors
  • Capacitors
  • Diode
  • LEDs
  • Transistors
  • Integrated Circuits

The Overlap between SMD and SMT

The primary difference between the two is that one refers to the mounting process while the other refers to the actual components. However, they are clearly dependent on each other. It is the proper selection and arrangement of SMDs that is the primary process behind SMT. Automated SMT machines can mount several SMDs onto the board in a short period of time. While SMDs determine the capacity of the board, SMT involves the installation of these components on the board.

Mer-Mar Electronics offer high-quality SMT PCB assembly services in quick turnaround time. Our SMT PCB assemblies are known for its high mechanical strength & a reliable choice for many industries. If you require SMT assembly, surface mount PCB fabrication, or any kind of services, contact us at sales@mermarinc.com or call us at (760) 244-6149.

Simple tweaks to get a Quick Turnaround PCB Assembly Without Sacrificing Quality!

By Mer-Mar Electronics | Date posted: | Last updated: October 25, 2021
Quick Turnaround PCB Assembly

Quick time to market is definitely a big source of competitive advantage as it helps garner market share. What is equally important though is to ensure that quality and performance are not sacrificed at the altar of speed when it comes to quick turnaround PCB assembly.

The good news here is that speed and quality are not always inversely proportional. In fact, if the quality of the design is optimized and design for manufacturing best practices are followed, the time taken to spin the board significantly decreases. In addition to the design quality, the following best practices also ensure that both speed and quality are maintained.

Best practice to get a quick-turnaround PCB assembly without sacrificing performance!

1. Communication

This is the single most important factor when it comes to quick turnaround PCB assembly. There needs to be enough communication between the design team and the contract manufacturer. In the absence of proper communication, the design team can easily miss the following:

  • Manufacturer’s capabilities
  • Component availability since necessary components are sometimes unavailable due to shortages and obsolescence.
  • Lead time, and more.

Proper communication can ensure what the components are available as also what are the DFM (design for manufacturing) requirements. If these requirements are neglected, it can lead to redesign that will waste precious time and increase assembly lead time.

While simpler designs can make it through the PCB manufacturing process without extensive communication, when it comes to complex designs particularly, you certainly need to have robust communication that will keep the yield high. It is also important to remember that designs that need non-standard fabrication technology typically require increased manufacturing time. Additionally, such designs may also lead to an increase in cost on account of the wastage involved.

2. Have a fair idea of the assembler’s capabilities

Intricately linked to the above point is the fact that you need to be aware of the assembler’s capabilities. For example, following are some of the aspects you need to be aware of when it comes to whether the assembler can accommodate your PCB design choices:

  • Spacing between thermal vias in the thermal pad
  • Use of thermal reliefs
  • Silkscreen placement
  • Solder mask thickness

In fact, an experienced PCB manufacturer will be able to study the design requirements in detail and spot any design choices that you may have made that can reduce yield. If an inexperienced manufacturer puts the design directly into production without figuring out these design choices that you have made, you will tend to waste time and there will be expensive reworks. Conversely, if you know the manufacturer’s capabilities you can also spot the design issues and ensure there is quick turnaround time. While design reviews could mean spending additional time, they will overall expedite the entire process as once the design issues are spotted the rest of the process will be seamless. The key to ensuring quick turnaround PCB assembly is also that these issues are anticipated early through proper communication.

3. Order Size

One other aspect that you need to be mindful of is the order size. You need to ensure that the manufacturer can accommodate your schedule and order size. Typically professional manufacturers offer both high and low volume manufacturing that ensures that the boards can be quickly put into production. However, if you do not have a fair idea of the volumes that the contract manufacturer can handle, you may land up in a position where you overload them, and they are unable to fulfil your requirements within the timeframe expected by you.

4. Testing Requirements

At the outset, you need to make sure that you have detailed your testing requirements to the manufacturer. Some contract manufacturers may only offer a bare board test, where the manufactured board is compared to the original Gerber data. However you may want to also send a netlist along with the Gerber data. In fact a schematic netlist can be used to compare the Gerber data. This comparison is best performed before manufacturing. The big advantage is, it offers that the contract manufacturer can catch any discrepancies early as opposed to figuring them out once the final assembly is done.

These apparently simple hacks can go a long way in both ensuring quality as well as the speed for your PCB Assembly.

As a leading quick turn PCB manufacturer in the USA, Mer-Mar Electronics provides well-rounded quick turn PCB assembly at the fastest turnaround times without sacrificing quality. We are ISO 9001:2015 certified and committed to constantly improving our processes and operations for delivering sophisticated and superior quality PCBs to our clients. We have been maintaining global quality standards throughout all the phases of the PCB assembly operations by performing rigorous checks, analysis, and inspections.

If you have any queries regarding our quick turn PCB assembly or need urgent assistance, Request a quick turn PCB assembly quote.

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