What To Look For When Auditing An Electronic Manufacturing Service

Finding the right manufacturing company for your electronic assembly takes a lot of research. The last thing you’ll want is to hire an electronics manufacturing company that does subpar work, after all. This could cause your products to lose quality, which could hurt your reputation. It could also end up costing you money if your orders aren’t completed in time, thereby delaying your production process. Once you’ve spent an adequate amount of time narrowing down the manufacturers, you’ll want to audit their manufacturing process.

Meet the Team

Once you’ve done general research to find the manufacturers you’re interested in, you’ll want to audit their processes by visiting their manufacturing facility and meeting their team. If the manufacturer has multiple manufacturing facilities, make sure you’re visiting the site at which your components will be manufactured.

When meeting in person, ask who is in charge of quality and how many people are part of their quality team. Ideally, the person in charge of quality works autonomously and reports to the main board directly. This shows that quality is taken seriously by the manufacturer. Be wary of a quality team that has other responsibilities as well, such as sales.

The following are a few questions that you should ask when meeting the team, specifically the quality team:

  • If they have a high turnover rate (which is something of a red flag) ask what kind of controls they have in place to minimize the risk when introducing new employees to the manufacturing environment.
  • Ask if they have formal quality assurance approvals.
  • Ask if their quality management system is documented. 
  • Ask whether the quality system is regularly reviewed by management.
  • Ask about the inspection processes and how often they are performed.

Observe the Process

Once you’ve spoken to the team, the manufacturer should allow you to see their processes in action. You’ll want to see the process from the initial quote request to the test and final shipment of the product. You’ll want to make sure that they have controls in place to manage electrostatic discharge, material traceability, incoming material inspections, build documentation, change control, test reports, and calibration records. Be sure to ask the following questions in regards to the manufacturing process:

  • Ask about the existence of a supplier rating system and how supplier approval is managed.
  • Ask whether a formal system is in place to control the change of drawings and technical data.
  • Ask whether inspection route cards and batch control procedures are used during the manufacturing process.
  • Ask whether corrective action requirements are documented and implemented.
  • Ask if non-conforming materials are recorded and whether it is quarantined. 
  • Ask if they provide materials handling training.
  • Ask about their general personnel training and development processes.

Once you’ve met the team, observed their electronics manufacturing process, and asked the questions you need to ask, you should have a pretty good idea of the manufacturer’s quality and their capabilities. Not only should this information be helpful, but your interaction with their team should give you a good idea as to whether they are a good fit for your business.

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