There is an old saying that goes, “You get what you pay for.” This is especially true when it comes to our industry. Often, we get calls from customers who left us and were attracted to the lure of lower-priced PCBs. They saw one of those bargain-basement ads and decided to give them a try. Most of the time, they are seriously disappointed with the results.
When they try to tell me what happened, I usually stop them because one of my strongest personal rules is never to knock the competition—especially when it comes to people selling exactly what they do. These companies are providing what they say they are selling—functional PCBs that work. It is up to the people who buy from them to understand that they are going to get what they pay for. You can’t buy a Miata and then complain that it is not a Ferrari. It’s as simple as that.
On the “A” side of that record, what is a great product, what is a great PCB, and what is extraordinary service? Here are eight characteristics of a great PCB supplier.
1. No junk in, junk out: They carefully review your data package to make sure that your PCB not only manufacturable but the best that can be produced. You should never complain that your PCB fabricator is asking too many questions. They have your best interest at heart.
2. Strong communication: Speaking of asking questions, one of the best characteristics of a great PCB supplier is keeping in constant communication with their customers. Whether they are going through the data package, or they find something wrong and are going to be late, they will communicate all critical information to their customers. That’s how you know you are in good hands.
3. Expertise: You are certainly an expert when it comes to your products, but probably not when it comes PCBs. That’s when a great PCB supplier is valuable. They are not only your PCB vendor, but they are also your PCB expert—someone you can count on to make sure you are designing and producing the best PCB’s money can buy.
4. Production-quality PCBs: Often, when you go with lower-priced PCBs, they will give you functional boards. This will work if you are in the proof-of-design stage, where you just want to see if the boards will work. But if you are building true prototypes and pre-production boards that will prepare you to manufacture the boards in production, then you need a supplier who is going produce the same boards for prototyping that you will manufacture in volume.
5. Follow-through: A great PCB will never leave you hanging. Even after your boards are received and are in your product, they will follow up to make sure everything is working. They will be there for you all through the use of the product.
6. Trustworthy: A good PCB vendor will help you with your needs, including your future needs. If you are developing a new product, for example, they can help you with that development. They can make sure that the PCBs that you are designing are the absolute best, most efficient, most manufacturable, and most economical PCBs you can get.
7. Generous partnerships: You can count on good PCB vendors being in your corner. They will look out for you. They are in business to please you, the customer, and they will always go to great lengths to ensure that you are getting the best products not just today but in the future as well. They know that if your company is successful, they will be successful, and they will always invest time and effort in helping you be successful. In many cases, they will even help repair boards you received from someone else if that will help you out. Imagine that.
8. Complete satisfaction guaranteed: A great PCB vendor will always want you, the customer, to be delighted with their products and services. They want you so happy that you will want to brag about doing business with you. They will go to any length to make sure you are satisfied with all that they do for you.
It always comes down to what I said before: You get what you pay for. With a solid and trustworthy PCB supplier, you can count on always getting outstanding service and more.
Imran Valiani is an account manager at Rush PCB. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.