First of all, what is an OEM? OEMs are Original Equipment Manufacturers and are organisations that manufacture or sell non-marketed components to other companies. These companies then use these components to create their own marketed products. For example, Microsoft is an OEM that sells PCs such as Dell or HP. Here, Dell or HP provide the operating system which is sold to the end user but the hardware hasn’t necessarily been designed by this company, it’s come from another, such as Microsoft, but is sold to the end user as a Dell or HP PC. 

With the economy unstable, and a recession likely in the near future, it’s important to ensure precautionary measures and strategies are being put in place now. In this blog we are going to help OEMs identify easy, actionable solutions to help improve operations in 2023 and beyond. 

Tailor your products to consumer needs

The manufacturing and PCB supplier industry is ever changing and so are the needs of your clients and consumers. No single brief from a consumer will be the same as another and OEMs need to be versatile and adaptable to keep up with these tailored demands. Not only is the OEM PCB Supplier industry ever changing regulations will be changing, supply and demand will eb and flow, particularly for UK consumers as we enter into a turbulent time in the economy. 

Here are a few simple steps to ensure you’re tailoring your service and your product to keep up with your consumers needs:

  • Market research: ensure you’re keeping up to date with the latest trends within the industry. If there are certain clients or consumers you work with regularly, take an active interest in their industry and what is going on. How is the supply and demand? Who are their biggest competitors? Are there any regulations changing that you need to be aware of that could affect future products?
  • Getting to know you: exploring your consumer and customer behaviours, or personas, to identify what some of their paint points are and how your products and expertise can help to overcome them. 
  • Customise your products: when you’re familiar with your consumers’ industry and their needs, ensure you’re tailoring your designs and your products as best as possible to meet these. This not only includes new customers (to ensure your products can be versatile and appeal to new clients you’ve not worked with before), but also for current clients too. Being versatile and adaptable with your current clients, suggesting new tweaks and fine tuning your strategies and products for the best results will mean existing customers will keep returning for regular business.
  • Communication: keeping clear, consistent and regular communication with your clients establishes you as a trusted OEM PCB supplier.
  • Data: keep analysing your own internal data looking for trends and popularity in certain products or components to ensure you’re ahead of the curve and can keep up with supply and demand.
  • Innovation: ensuring you’re using, or at least up to date with, the latest industry technology and methods.

All of these will help to ensure you’re servicing your consumers in the right way and fulfilling their needs.

Invest and use new technology

Not only is the industry ever changing, but so is the technology within it. New machinery and operational equipment is continuously being brought to the market, and making sure you’re moving your OEM operations in tandem with this is important to keep up with competitors.

For OEM PCB suppliers, there are a huge number of new pick and place machines, ovens and other technology you can invest in to improve your processes. ABL Circuits has recently invested in a brand new selective soldering machine, meaning the soldering process is quicker, more accurate and ensures ‘class 3’ assembly quality, which will be a vast improvement to products that are produced manually.

Investing in new technology such as this, means we can keep up with the supply and demand of customers, keep up with competitors and speed up the production cycle, while not compromising on the quality of our products. That being said, upgrading to new technology and investing in new machinery, does not mean reducing your human workers. For example, a selective soldering machine, while speeding up the process and reducing manual labour, still requires workers to monitor and manage the machine and ensure everything is running smoothly and free of errors.

Like any technology, machinery or equipment, there can be errors, breakdowns and even servicing needed which would not be possible without your expert team on hand. 

Ensure you have a resilient supply chain

As the pandemic hit and businesses closed and employees told to work from home, there was huge influx in technology for working from home. This meant there was a decrease in demand, causing technology companies to struggle to keep up, where the automotive industry, on the other hand, had to halt production due to a lack of demand. 

No one could have predicted the level of disruption to the supply chain caused by the pandemic, but OEM PCB suppliers should continuously monitor the market and forecast for unexpected disruptions. By doing so, manufacturers could focus on identifying the products with the biggest demand, and placed a priority on manufacturing those products. Having contingency plans in place, and multiple, reliable suppliers at your disposal means you can plan ahead as best as possible for any disruption to your OEM operations.

One effective method to ensure you have a resilient supply chain is to reduce your inventory. Having fewer supplies in store not only means you have more room for new machinery and tools, but it reduces waste. You can move your current products quickly through production, and have emergency supplies stored at a warehouse or supplier, such as products and components you know are in high demand from analysing your inventory trends. Storing these supplies in several places means you have back up plans should a supply chain issue occur. 

Invest in staff

A recent survey conducted by Deloitte showed that, in the US particularly, there are going to be 2.1 million unfulfilled manufacturing jobs. Currently in the UK, manufacturing shortages are costing the government £7 billion as they are battling to fill over 95,000 vacancies. As the industry grows, so does the need for talent, specifically niche, specific talent that has the ability to manage and operate some of the intrinsic and complicated machinery involved for OEM PCB suppliers. 

It is predicted that over four million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled between now and 2030 due to the industry growth and retirement of current employees. Therefore, OEMs must try and forward plan and look ahead at the potential growth of their company and the potential structure and succession. 

It’s important for OEM PCB suppliers not to hold back on hiring, and to look ahead at the bigger picture and most importantly, retain their current staff. Your business should workrking closely with your employees and ensure you have several things in place:

  • Monthly or quarterly 121s with your employees to assess their performance and happiness
  • Implement feedback from team members to improve team morale or processes as quickly as possible and ensure there is trust and respect towards senior leadership
  • Employee engagement surveys provide an anonymous opportunity for employees to give feedback on the workplace and process in a safe environment, giving those who may not feel confident to give this feedback in person the opportunity to do so

Ensuring your company is looking after your employees with good benefits, inclusivity and diversity, as well as forward planning with hiring, will put you in good stead for the challenges ahead.

Select reliable suppliers

While all of the points discussed are important to a high performing team and business, none of this can happen without having the components at your disposal to build your consumers’ desired products. Having reliable suppliers who you trust is incredibly important, ensuring you’re receiving components of a high quality to avoid issues with recall on products.

OEM PCB suppliers often have several suppliers to overcome any supply and demand issues, but also so they have a breadth of suppliers they can trust and depend on should any issues arise. 

Companies often turn to suppliers for expert support and advice, like ABL Circuits, who has 39 years of specialist experience. Some consumers also need a company that can look after the start to end process; ABl Circuits is a one-stop shop for all your PCB manufacturing needs. As one of the only manufacturers that offer the full start-to-end process, in-house, for PCB assembly, we can help to guide you through every step.
If you’d like to find out more about how we work and how we can help you, get in touch for a free quote.