Any electronic product development process is a lifecycle completed in a number of stages. The good part is in most of these stages, you can go back to the earlier stage in case you find a flaw, which in a way can be called reverse engineering. So, at the end, you get an accurate final product that suits the given requirement. For that matter, any product or a project lifecycle starts with an idea or a concept and ends with delivering and installing the product at the client site. But does it really end there? Well, not quite. The association with that client and the product installed goes on with regards to repairs and maintenance services. This is because offering excellent customer services is just as important as product quality. This post discusses various stages of the contract electronic product development process with some focus on an extended contract of repairs and services.
Stages in the Contract Electronic Development Process
When you sign a contract with an electronics manufacturer to make the required electronic part or a complete product, you will have to go through various stages of the process. Here are the 11 stages in the contract electronic development process:
- Conception of an Idea: This is the most important aspect without which one would never be able to produce anything new. Also, it is essential for the client to have their objectives set regarding why they want a particular electronic product to be made. So basically, here the client should have an idea about the product, be able to define it, and also list the objectives behind making this product. They should also be able to define the scope of the product at this level. So, this primarily happens at the client side but in sync with the electronics manufacturer.
- Research & Development: R&D is important in all fields, and in the continually-evolving electronics sector, it becomes all the more necessary. This is also crucial because the manufacturer wants to make the product in a certain way so that it fits the client requirement. So, in this stage, the manufacturer and the client together have to identify the tools, technologies, and materials needed for making the product along with their quantities. Here, they should also carry out the technical and economic feasibility studies to find out the technological requirements, as well as challenges and financial budgets. R&D needs to be done by both parties, the client, as well as the electronics manufacturer.
- Designing the Circuits and Printed Circuit Boards: At this stage, the manufacturer starts designing the product in a design software such as CAD or any other. They design the circuit layout or a schematic diagram as well as the PCB layouts and their enclosures.
- Making the Packaging and Enclosures: In this stage, the manufacturer has an outline of the board assembly. They need to finalize the packaging and enclosures after discussions with the client. Also, they need to finalize on the labeling, form factor, and graphics, as well as the etching done on the PCBs.
- Checking Regulatory and Legal Aspects: Some processes need to comply with the local body regulation or set standards. The manufacturer needs to be certified accordingly by the regulatory body. Violation of such rules may invite heavy penalties.
- Prototyping: Prototyping or pilot stage production is essential before moving on to mass production. Also, prototyping the required electronic part makes its manufacturing fast and easy, with the same design being repeated accurately. This also saves costs.
- Testing and Review: Quality is an important aspect, and hence any newly manufactured product needs to be tested and its functioning be reviewed. If the manufacturer needs to fix anything, they can go back to the design stage. If it functions well, they further test it in the live environment. There are various methods of testing manufacturers adopt to check different parameters. These include visual inspection, X-ray inspection, solderability testing, and PCB contamination testing among others.
- Installing and Testing in Live Environment: Once a product clears the testing stage, the manufacturer checks it at the client’s facility. They check if it is capable of mass production without hampering the quality. Also, they check if it has any compatibility issues.
- Documentation and User Manuals: Documenting any process is extremely crucial, not just for the client but also for the manufacturer’s own record. The next time they make the same product, they should have the whole process documented. This saves on unnecessary delays, issues, and costs. For the client, it serves as a user manual and the workers’ training process becomes easy. This document includes the circuit diagrams, PCB layouts, assembly drawings, software source code, and the process steps.
- Follow up Meetings and Calls: It makes business sense to enquire with the client if the product is functioning well after its release in mass production. Get a review from the client. It serves in building a business relationship, marketing, and leaves scope for upgrading the design in the future.
- Maintenance and Repair Services: This is also a crucial part of customer service. For the initial warranty period, the manufacturer offers a maintenance schedule to the client. Also, if the client has any queries of repair issues, it is crucial for the manufacturer to address them immediately.
With electromechanical equipment and machinery being used in several industries, most OEMs offer contracts to electronics manufacturers to make the electronic product or part required. But it is essential for these manufacturers or OEMs to sign contracts with reliable players in the electronics sector because making the required electronic part can get pretty complex. Janssen Engineering Group has expertise in providing end-to-end services in product development and manufacturing, customizing, mechanical assembly, PCB layout and fabrication among others.