Protecting Precious Components

16 September 2021

How to Track, Trace & Control your components in order to get the best of them during this shortage.

Allocation. One of the dirtiest words of 2021. It’s not just an SMT manufacturing problem, people outside of the industry are also experiencing the headaches associated with component shortages – even Apple had to delay releasing their newest iPhone by a few months. We’ve all heard a story or two about someone waiting months and months for a new car or dishwasher.
Almost everything sold today has a circuit board in it and most of these smart devices use, and thus compete for stock on, the same ICs.And while manufacturers all vie for the same parts to meet their customers increasingly desperate demands, experts predict we’ll be dealing with this situation well into 2022.

Many companies are rethinking the supply chain – offering solutions related to real-time visibility, improved production capacity, and realistic forecasted demand. We’ll leave those solutions to the experts within supply chain procurement.
Our expertise is around tracing, tracking, and controlling these invaluable components once you get them inside your facility. More coveted than the precious rings of Middle Earth, we’ll help ensure they are located quickly, populated correctly, and tracked completely throughout the manufacturing process.

Material Control

Material Control is critical in electronics manufacturing, but in today’s reality, keeping track of these coveted components on the factory floor should be your top priority.
With effective inventory management, you’ll never lose components to the “blackhole” once they are pulled from the stock room. No matter where materials are located in your factory – whether they are set-up on a trolley waiting for the next job or sitting in a bin next to a repair station – you’ll have visibility to their precise location.

We’ve also heard a lot about manufacturers looking to buy new equipment to try and make-up for lost time and fulfill backorders. In reality, these machines need the same coveted components and also suffer from egregious lead times, so getting a new machine in-house isn’t as simple as it used to be. Besides, not everyone can afford to invest in new equipment. The tried-and-true formula to optimize equipment utilization suddenly becomes a hot priority again.

Machine Control

Precise machine control helps to ensure that your manufacturing process is running exactly as it should –with the right programs loaded for the correct product, the right materials set-up in the right locations, and the right machine settings and process parameters in place. By validating all elements of the manufacturing process, you can rest assured materials are being placed under the right conditions. You won’t need to worry about a reflow oven being out of spec potentially putting your precious ICs at risk of being scrapped and wasted.
In times of scarcity, there’s always a risk of counterfeit components making their way into the supply chain. There are numerous ways to test for fakes and prevent them from getting incorporated into your warehouse. Unfortunately, counterfeiting methods continue to get more sophisticated to try and deceive receiving quality inspection.

Robust Traceability

If an issue with a fake component is found during the production process, you will want a robust traceability solution to help you quickly identify and locate impacted units to stop them from getting into the field. The right traceability software will save you an immense amount of money (and stress!) by helping you to avoid a nightmare field recall.
While many of us wish the component shortage would resolve overnight, the fact remains that we’ll likely still be dealing with it this time next year. In the meantime, you’ve got to make the best of what you have by protecting your precious resources and maximizing your equipment utilization. We’d love to help you with that…