Supply Chain Solutions for Electronic Assemblies

Created: August 20, 2018
Updated: September 25, 2020

Picture of woman holding PCB in supply chain solutions

Has this happened to you? You’ve finished a new PCB design that is ready for its prototype build and the race is on. Marketing has put the pressure on engineering for this “must have” device that they can show off, and everyone is expecting you to deliver it as soon as possible. You got the design done in record time and are ready to send it to the manufacturer when the word comes back to you that there is a problem. One or more of the that you’ve used are unavailable or too expensive to use. Now you are looking at a re-design, and everyone is looking at you.

It’s an uncomfortable position to be in, and you’re not alone. This same thing has happened to many of us. The question is, how can you avoid this kind of problem again in the future? Sure there are tools out there that say that they can help you to select the right for your schematic, but your experience with them hasn’t been the greatest. These tools cost extra money, have a lot of maintenance overhead, and are difficult to use. Isn’t there a better answer somewhere?

I’m here to tell that yes, there is a better answer. There are supply chain tools that will help you to manage your PCB design bill of materials. Not only will these tools do what you want them to, they will also be a better alternative to the tools that you are currently using.

The Pain of Selecting the Wrong to Use in Your Schematic

The reason that you are in this mess in the first place is that you selected the wrong to use on your schematic. They may have been the best for the application, but their pricing and/or availability made them unusable. If you had known that up front, you could have used different and designed your way around these problems. But as it is now, you’ve got a real mess on your hands.

There are supply chain solution tools that advertise that they can help you. These tools are often part of the schematic capture tools that you may already be using, but they have problems that you may not find out about until you start to use them. For instance, they may not provide all of the information that you are looking for. In some cases, you also have to purchase additional licenses to use these tools even though they are supposed to be part of your current design system.

Picture of a hammer crashing down on a laptop in supply chain solutions

Working with some supply chain tools can be a frustrating experience

The Pain Gets Worse with Tools that are Difficult to Set Up and Use

These annoyances only grow as you finally get to the point of trying to use these tools in a production environment. Some of them require a great amount of setup in order to make them work correctly. Data formats have to be set up along with operating parameters. Once that is done the next step is to set up your links and the servers that you will want to use. Then you will need to configure how the information will be displayed and the final targets for the imported data.

And if setting these tools up wasn’t enough work in itself, maintaining them will only add to your headache. On top of that, you may even need some specialized training just to use these tools. By the time you’ve got them ready to go, you may very well be asking yourself if the time and money that you’ve invested in them is really worth it.

Screenshot of AD18 Active BOM user interface in supply chain solutions

Working with supply chain solution tools should be easy and intuitive

The Relief of Using a Supply Chain Solution Tool that Works

The good news is that there is one supply chain solution that will do what you need it to, and do it well. Since it is part of the overall PCB design system that it comes with, there isn’t any additional charge to use it. Setting it up and maintaining it is simple, and it even comes ready to go with cloud connections to part vendors for pricing, availability, and the latest part specification information. Best of all, it is simple and intuitive to work with and use.

When working your PCB design through the assembly process, you’re going to want sure that as soon as your board moves through manufacturing, you are secure in knowing that your components and surface mount will be placed correctly. Furthermore, trusting that your solder paste, whether applied in traditional soldering or wave soldering, does not spill over to increase risk of shortage for your electronic manufacturing customers.

The supply chain solution tool that I’m talking about is ActiveBOM® from Altium. As part of the entire Altium Designer® PCB design software system, Active BOM works in conjunction with both the schematic and layout within Altium ’s unified design environment. Active BOM is easy to use and provides you with immediate part information and data through its cloud connection with your vendors. In addition, you can easily use Active BOM to create a BOM report in any configuration to match up to the needs of your manufacturer.

Would you like to find out more about how Active BOM could become your supply chain solution for your part problems? If so, talk to an expert at Altium today for more information.

Start the journey to switch over to Altium Designer today.

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