What essential services are required from a CEM partner for a box assembly project?
Box or cabinet assembly projects can be complex, but a proficient CEM should provide a whole host of services to support your team from concept through to manufacturing and shipping of the final product.
As every project is different, any potential contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) partner should have an in-depth consultation with you following the initial point of contact. You’ll need to feel satisfied that they have a good understanding of your business, your challenges, and the objectives of the project. Only then will they be able to propose a tailored solution and a quote.
Confirming the CEM’s accreditation certificates should always be high on the agenda. These quality accreditations are critical to ensuring products will be safe, high quality, consistent and traceable, thus mitigating future issues. Some standards are generally expected as a minimum regardless of the project, ISO9000, for example, which focuses on quality, repeatability, and consistency in supply. For a control panel project, UL508A is the standard providing guidelines on issues including component selection, short circuit current rating (SCCR) and wiring methods.
In addition, sectors with more stringent requirements, such as healthcare or aviation, will hold their own directives which must be complied with. It is wise to do your research and check for any quality requirements relevant to your industry and application if not already aware.
It’s a good idea to ask the CEM what design support they can offer. Even if you already have a drawing, it will need to be assessed for manufacturability where changes may be needed for component availability, production feasibility or cost purposes. If you don’t have a drawing, you’ll need access to a dedicated engineer who can work closely with your team to develop a 3D CAD model. They should also be proactive in making suggestions for improvement. For example, Alpha 3 Manufacturing’s experienced engineers recently streamlined a pre-existing design for a customer, resulting in less wiring throughout their cabinet assemblies and therefore a significant cost saving.
A good CEM should be committed to a culture of continuous improvement, utilising the latest technology when it comes to design, production, and final inspection of the assembly.
Typically, CEMs should include some level of testing, however, you should enquire as to how comprehensive the testing is and whether it meets the requirements for your product. At Alpha 3 Manufacturing, all assemblies are 100% inspected and electrically tested as standard, but the engineers often develop tests for specific requirements too.
A range of assembly methods should either be in place or available, such as bench line and a cell focused on assembly; this offers flexibility if you intend to increase supply or complexity in the future.
Some manufacturers will specialise in certain sectors, but most longstanding CEMs will be experienced in designing and producing box or cabinet assemblies for a range of industries and applications. Alpha 3 Manufacturing is renowned for having worked across numerous sectors, providing a quality service with flexibility and tailored solutions to meet customers’ criteria.
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