10 questions to ask before choosing a contract manufacturer for high-reliability, mission-critical electronics
To decide on the right contract manufacturer for your complex electronics, it’s important that you compare apples to apples. We are not the lowest-cost manufacturer out there, but price isn’t the only factor. Listed below are 10 questions to ask every prospective manufacturer. We encourage you to check us out and check them out. Listen carefully to their responses – hear what is and isn’t said.
Quality + Electronics = Qualitel
- What is your manufacturing warranty?
At Qualitel we provide a 3-year warranty against manufacturing defects. Most contract manufacturers offer only a one-year warranty. Some only 90 days.
- How do you handle proto, NPI, and production runs?
We have separate lines, processes and people for proto (Qualitel Express), NPI and production (Qualitel). Many CM’s try to process everything on the same line. The problem with that method is it becomes hard for them to maintain a production schedule. Production orders tend to get bumped for quick-turn prototypes, or their small runs get delayed in favor of a larger program. Qualitel ensures that all order types move smoothly through dedicated lines.
- Do you outsource any of your processes?
At Qualitel we have the complex machinery and capabilities to provide many specialty services in-house. These include Parylene and conformal coating; potting; test development; HALT/HASS, flying probe and ICT test; and higher-level assembly. The only exception is cables. Instead we work with competent cable houses located in the region. We find they are better suited and more competitive for this type of work.
- What registrations & certifications do you carry?
Qualitel is registered to ISO9001:2015/AS9100D (since 2006), and ISO 13485:2016 (since 2005). We are an FDA registered facility (since 2001), an FAA repair center (since 2016) and we are ITAR registered.
- Do you accept any size or type of customer?
Qualitel has two divisions – Qualitel and Qualitel Express. Qualitel Express, our quick-turn division for proto and production, accepts customers of any size and industry. Qualitel supports customers with the potential to do a least $1M/year in revenues. Our volume typically ranges to $1k/month for box-build and $10k/month for circuit cards. We like customers to each represent 5-15% of the business so that we can provide extraordinary service.
- Can your equipment handle small runs & high volume?
Qualitel has three different types of lines: two Mycronics prototyping lines in Qualitel Express; two Mycronics high-mix lines (25k parts/hour); and one Panasonic high-volume line (100K parts/hour). Our Mycronics lines can accept cut tape, which means you don’t need to buy reels for your small runs. That way Qualitel helps to keep your material costs down.
- What are your core values?
Qualitel’s five core values are Responsive, Respectful, Reliable, Teamwork, and Cares. Every Qualitel employee exhibits and exemplifies these core values. If a manufacturer cannot tell you their core values, then either they have none or they’re not living by them.
- Do you have an obsolescence management program?
Qualitel monitors obsolescence management. With mission-critical products in aerospace and medical, it takes time to qualify new or replacement components. We can provide quarterly obsolescence reports as well as providing solutions such as last-time buys or alternates. We can also provide an obsolescence report when we deliver your quote.
- How much do you spend each year on new equipment?
Qualitel spends between $1-2m per year on new equipment. Not only do we feel it is important to stay at the forefront of technology with the latest state-of-the-art systems, but we buy at least two of each machine. Duplicate systems provide assurance for continuity of your supply – if one machine goes down, then we have another to back it up.
- Can you provide testimonials from your customers?
Yes. There are CM’s that might convince you their relationship with clients is confidential and that they can’t share testimonials. Beware of these manufacturers. At Qualitel, we have customers who are happy to impart their experience working with Qualitel, and will tell you unconditionally why choosing Qualitel was the best decision they ever made.