The COVID-19 pandemic had catastrophic effects on businesses worldwide. It shook the global manufacturing industry as supply chain disruptions and shutdowns affected plants and production units. Uncertainties around international cargo movement and fears of contamination through shipments did not help the situation.
Unfortunately, all these factors had a direct impact on the go-to-market and delivery schedules of OEMs.
The fast-changing landscape forced companies to rethink their manufacturing choices. The eternal conflict of whether to manufacture locally or offshore resurfaced ever more intensely. Are we now witnessing a subtle shift from global to more local procurement? As companies try to localize their supply chains to deal with the pandemic, are we seeing a new normal emerge in manufacturing?
Most industry experts believe that when the pandemic ends, long term changes such as greater automation and a focus on local production will persist.
According to surveys conducted by Thomasnet.com, in 2020, 69% of manufacturers indicated they are “likely to extremely likely” to reshore in future.
An emphasis on customer service is critical in any business, and more so in printed circuit board manufacturing. Design engineers expect manufacturing partners to respond promptly to their questions and work through design changes—a challenging process when dealing with offshore vendors, even during normal times. In addition to the lack of personalized service, shipping costs and time delays play havoc with product development schedules.
Local manufacturers offer many benefits that the larger overseas PCB vendors are unable to promise:
- Offshore PCB manufacturing is ideal for large volume runs of PCB assemblies. But when you require a circuit board that falls outside specific scopes and lower volumes, such as with prototypes, then local manufacturers may be a better choice.
- Local vendors respond to you faster than overseas partners and move quickly to incorporate changes to roll out prototypes and launch new products quickly.
- Local manufacturers have onsite engineering teams who contribute to and collaborate with you on product design and development.
Let’s look at a few common challenges that go against overseas manufacturing.
- Geographical factors: When you work with an offshore manufacturer, there may be problems in communication due to time-zone differences. When questions and concerns crop up, time lags are not acceptable as they may seriously affect your project schedule. With travel severely restricted or completely suspended due to the pandemic, you cannot rely on off-site visits to sort out any design or manufacturing issues or carry out quality control checks. Local holidays may also disrupt schedules. For example, Chinese New Year closes factories and offices for up to three weeks in February every year.
- Volume constraints: Offshore manufacturers, who are usually set up for long production runs, may not be able to adapt their processes to accommodate low-volume runs. This may delay your production until the manufacturer can fit a short run into their schedule. Under normal circumstances, such delays are not acceptable – but during a pandemic, such delays could prove catastrophic for the project.
- Logistical issues: Any international emergencies or political unrest can cause logistical problems. For example, during the pandemic, airline schedules were impacted, delaying deliveries of components and finished PCB boards. At such times, shipping and logistics costs may skyrocket, sending your project into budget overruns.
Fortunately, several local PCB manufacturers in North America were still able to produce circuit boards during the pandemic.
The coronavirus restrictions may wane in a few months, but the virus itself is expected to be around for an indefinite amount of time. Are you prepared for this new normal? Here are some benefits of using a local PCB manufacturing partner based in North America.
- More flexibility to adapt: In uncertain times, you may need to change plans quickly as the business landscape changes. You need a manufacturing partner who is flexible, reacts instantaneously to your needs and adapts the manufacturing process to accommodate your requirements.
- Local partners mean greater control: Experiencing project delays? A local partner means a delivery may be as simple as driving across town. A physical visit may quickly sort out production issues or review design changes. You will not be dependent on across-the-border logistics regulations or delays.
- Save on shipping costs: When you ship components across borders, shipping and warehousing costs are high. With a localized supply chain, you’ll make substantial savings on these.
- Support your local business community: Using local suppliers is good for your community. Especially during times of distress, supporting local businesses is an important consideration and will support your local economy, and ultimately, that’s good for your business!
- Become environment-consciousness: When you use local suppliers, you reduce shipping, use less energy, reduce emissions and improve your company’s carbon footprint. Green manufacturing is valued by consumers and will have a positive impact on your brand.
Besides, since we have not seen the back of the COVID-19 virus yet, we must stay prepared. It is easier to monitor dynamically changing lockdown rules and social distancing restrictions in your own local area than in remote, offshore locations. You will not need to worry about international travel bans and shipping disruptions.
Under these circumstances, it makes sense to partner with a local PCB manufacturer for your circuit board requirements rather than with offshore ones.
It is important to choose the right PCB manufacturer in your area – one with the right production technology and equipment, vast experience and a stellar reputation for delivering quality products.
MIS is proud of its Made in Canada products. We are an ISO 13485:2016 Certified company registered with industry associations according to governing standards.If you are looking to partner with a reputed and reliable local Canadian PCB supplier, talk to MIS about your project and get a no-obligation PCB quote.