5 Don’ts and Do’s for Working with a Contract Manufacturer

An OEM’s relationship with its contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) can be a lynchpin in ensuring that viable products reach the marketplace successfully. And by “viable” I mean much more than “designs that work” – I mean economically viable, too. With more than 25 years of experience manufacturing niche electronics for a broad range of clients and industries, I’ve boiled the OEM-CEM relationship down to these five Don’ts and five Do’s.


1. Let the CM Be the Last to Know — If we’re the last people to view the product design, bill of materials, and so on, then we’re not able to add value. Manufacturing is where the rubber meets the road, so talking to us early in your design cycles can actually give you foresight into your product’s marketability.

2. Lock-Down Designs Prior to a DFM Review — The design-for-manufacturing (DFM) review is where we add some of the greatest value. Given the opportunity, we can actually help make products more successful (i.e. more profitable). But if we’re handed a design with no wiggle room, or a deadline with no time buffer for change, that opportunity is lost.

3. Single-Source Materials — Designing in components that have only one source can be the demise of even the best electronics products. Products with single-source components are vulnerable and more costly. We like to help by recommending comparable components that give our customers more options in terms of supply.

4. Over-Design — An over-designed electronics product is often an economic failure. The most successful electronics products balance adequate, reliable performance with a low cost to manufacture.

5. Under-Automate — There is a very simple equation in manufacturing: manual = expensive. Designs that minimize the need for manual labour will fetch higher margins. Two areas where automation is often overlooked are interconnects and mechanical (package) design.


1. Start Talking Early — It is literally never too early to start talking to your contract manufacturer. In fact, if clients come to us with their earliest designs we can collaborate to build the most economically viable products.

To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EETimes.

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