March 10, 2023

VIEWPOINT 2023: Andrew Williams, Engineering Manager, PRIDE Industries

VIEWPOINT 2023: Andrew Williams, Engineering Manager, PRIDE Industries
Andrew Williams, Engineering Manager, PRIDE Industries
Have supply chain shortages of semiconductors and electronic components caused problems for your company in 2022 and what have you done to reduce these issues in 2023?

How to Outsmart Supply Chain Challenges

Supply chain shortages are requiring PCBA design engineers to get creative. For example, we're seeing a situation now where parts that used to be easily sourced in tape-and-reel format are now only available in bulk. This means they can’t be loaded by machine; they have to be hand-soldered or sent out to a third party to be reeled, which adds time and cost.

Recently, we had to redesign the manufacturing process for one customer's product because the surface mount connector it uses is now only available in bulk form. We're encountering this situation fairly often now. The problem is that there's often only one supplier for a custom part, which can put a whole product at risk.

Standard parts, on the other hand, can be sourced from multiple suppliers, who at a minimum will carry alternate parts that do not require design changes. So, for now at least, we're recommending to our customers that they move away from custom parts whenever possible.

For example, one of our customers built their product around a single-board computer module known as a Raspberry Pi. Because Raspberry Pi's are both inexpensive and reliable, that decision allowed the company to produce a great product at a low cost. But recently, Raspberry Pi's have become extremely hard to source; they won't be widely available until late 2023. That's the sort of situation no manufacturer wants to be in. But it's happening way more often than it used to—which is keeping us pretty busy helping customers find solutions.

Andrew Williams, Engineering Manager
PRIDE Industries
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