Cetrix Technologies offers a full cycle of electronic contract manufacturing (ECM) services to innovators who want to bring a new mobile computing or wireless communication product to market. We offer low and medium volume production suitable for leading startup companies, as well as high volume manufacturing for larger companies.
With advanced design and prototyping techniques using leading CAD-CAM design tools and manufacturing processes, Cetrix is capable of developing and producing high-quality PCB and various components that make up a complete electronic product. Starting from your idea, Cetrix End-to-End service covers all aspects of ECM, from conceptual design to prototyping and testing, all the way to manufacturing, delivery and support. Our flexible manufacturing solutions provide our customers a variety of assembly and delivery options. At the same time, our solution provides the most competitive package in terms of price, time and quality.
When Cetrix is tasked with the design and manufacturing of a new product, the design and manufacturing teams can be closely coupled to shorten the timeframe for producing a working prototype and take it though mass production. This is done by concurrent engineering in the Design for Manufacturing (DFM) stage, integrating both product development and designing the product for manufacturing. The time-to-market can be further reduced by ordering long-lead parts and material at later stages of DFM. In the manufacturing phase, this cooperation between design and manufacturing teams will expedite production problems and virtually eliminate the risk of delays in project time schedule.
Cetrix ECM Process
At Cetrix, a new design and manufacturing project goes through two separate processes: a Contracting Process followed by a Design and Manufacturing (D&M) process.
1. Request for Design and Manufacturing Service
A manufacturing contract starts with a request from a company for design and manufacturing of a mobile or communication device by Cetrix. This is formally done by completing a CM Request Form by the customer. A Cetrix representative will respond within 24 hours, and make necessary arrangements to take the next step.
2. Product Concept Submission
Customer provides Cetrix with product specifications, feature list and shape/appearance preferences, and any initial conceptual design and modeling performed by the customer or third parties.
3. Electronic Contract Manufacturing Proposal
Cetrix evaluates the concept, makes early design and manufacturing estimation, and provides the customer with a proposal that includes cost and time schedules. The cost schedule will be based on the stages of the project and the milestones defined in the time schedule. Recommendations for lowering time and cost, or enhancing quality and maintainability will be included in Cetrix ECM Proposal.
4. Formal Agreement
When the proposal is accepted, both parties sign a formal contract. This contract will define the legal and commercial relationship between the two parties and the framework within which the project will lead to a successful and mutually beneficial close.
5. Initial Project Financing
Customer makes a deposit payment to initiate the design process. Depending on the arrangements made between two parties, the complexity of the design, and the production volume, this deposit may be fully or partially returned to the customer at the close of the contract.
Design & Manufacturing (D&M) Process:
Design and Manufacturing process is based on continuous interaction between Cetrix ECM teams and customer’s technical and marketing personnel. From concept definition to mass production and delivery, this close cooperation ensures smooth project implementation and lowers the risk of delays and unplanned cost overruns.
The D & M process consists of six stages:
1. Product Concept Definition (PCD)
The Design and Manufacturing process begins by turning the product idea into a well-defined, technically understandable solution concept based on the ideas developed by the customer. In one sense, this is the most important stage in the D & M process and acts as the cornerstone of many processes to follow. This is why all teams involved in the D & M process participate in PCD stage. The outcome of this stage is summarized in these main deliverables:
- Product concept definition
- Design specifications
- Functional specifications
- Overall system conceptual design
2. Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA)
As a standard design paradigm, Cetrix carries out a concurrent engineering process, integrating Conceptual Product Design (CPD) and Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFMA). This process increases the speed and the accuracy of the product development process, ensuring highly manufacturable product and improving Product Time-to-Market.
Given the complexity and extensive set of design considerations for PCBs and other electronic parts, simulation plays a pivotal role in this stage. Careful identification of key parameter and specifications and utilizing advance simulation software are essential for a successful electronics DFMA.
In summary, the advantages of this process for our ECM customers are:
- Lower Assembly Cost: DFMA lowers assembly costs by using fewer parts, eliminating unique parts wherever possible, and decreasing the amount of labor required for assembly.
- Reduced Assembly Operation: DFMA shortens assembly time by utilizing standard assembly practices such as vertical assembly and self-aligning parts.
- Increased Quality and Reliability: DFMA decreases the chance of failure by lowering the number of parts.
- Shorter Total Time-To-Market: Quick and smooth transition from the concept definition stage to the manufacturing phase results in a more complete and workable design the first time, therefore reducing total time-to market.
3. Rapid Prototyping
After the DFMA stage, the next logical step in the D & M process is building a prototype. A working prototype is a necessary stage in transitioning from design stage to the manufacturing stage. Here, the product is typically in a state of on-going development that, besides meeting technical and schedule requirements, demands the ability to efficiently respond and implement design changes.
Using Rapid Prototyping techniques such as fast SMT for PCB prototyping and additive manufacturing for mechanical model building, Cetrix reduces the time required to go from design phase to production phase, which in turn lowers reduces cost and time-to-market of the project.
There are many advantages to rapid prototyping including:
- Speed is a major benefit of utilizing RP processes in building prototypes for both PCB and mechanical parts, reducing the time to produce a prototype by up to 10 fold.
- When lead time is reduced, cost is also reduced. This makes it possible to produce alternative prototypes and evaluate more options before going into production.
- Cost-effective and quick refinements to electronic and mechanical design are another benefit of using RP process, which can mean several design refinements in a single day with high accuracy.
The final outcome of RP stage is a fully functional product prototype ready for final testing and validation.
4. Testing & Validation
To produce the final working product model for production, several iterations of prototyping-testing are usually performed. For this purpose, a test plan is developed to achieve comprehensive test coverage. The test procedure is simulated before implementation. Simulating the test plan is important because redundancy and access to miscellaneous nodes in the system can potentially ease the debugging effort.
There are several tests performed on the prototype PCB:
- Functional testing
- In-circuit Testing
- Automated optical inspection (AOI)
- X-ray Testing
- Flying probe testing
PCB test starts by testing the connectivity of the PCB to ensure the PCB is operational. This is done without the device under test. Then the device is added for testing DC measurements to verify it is properly biased. If the system is properly biased, functional measurements are performed to test the operational status of the various system blocks, identifying any problem areas. Once functionality is verified, specific AC and transient measurements are performed.
Alongside the PCB testing, the following tests may be performed on the prototype depending on the product:
- Environmental testing
- Agency Compliance Testing
- Analytical Laboratory Testing
- Vibration Testing
- RF Testing
When all testing procedures yield positive result, the product model is validated for production.
5. Manufacturing & Assembly (M&A)
The manufacturing phase of the M&A process starts from a validated DFMA deliverable in the form of a fully tested prototype as production model. The design documents that are required by the manufacturing department in order to initiate the manufacturing and assembly process are:
The M&A phase is divided into three main stages:
- Manufacturing Process Planning
- Production Trial Run
- Mass Production
Manufacturing Process Planning
This stage is performed in the DFMA phase of D&M process and consists of five steps:
- Manufacturing Process Definition: The Manufacturing Process is defined during the DFMA phase by manufacturing engineers in parallel with product design. In addition, the evolving design information enables manufacturing to become better equipped to handle concurrent product development and better able to adapt to in-process engineering changes. The design data that manufacturing engineers have access to for accurately define manufacturing process includes parts, classification, 3D mockups, and manufacturing requirements.
- Manufacturing Strategy Definition: In this step, manufacturing engineers evaluate both the design requirements and the manufacturing capabilities and capacities necessary to support the manufacturing strategy. They identify which partners will be required, and any long lead items that will need immediate attention.
- Early Manufacturing Planning. (“Advanced”, in this context, means “early”) In this step, manufacturing engineers work concurrently with product design team in the DFMA phase creating preliminary versions of the Manufacturing Bill-of-Material (MBOM) and process plans, initiate new tooling/molding requests, and production time and cost estimates. To improve manufacturability, requests for change are provided to design team in the early stages of product development.
- Document Process Plan. Once the process plan and product design are mature, the manufacturing engineer must detail and document the manufacturing processes.
- Pre-production and Production. In this step, the manufacturing process definition and work instructions are delivered to production systems.
The planning stage produces the following deliverables:
- Process Flow Chart
- Process Instructions
- Packaging Standards
- Product/Process Quality System
- Pre-Launch Control Plan
Production Trial Run
The production trial run must be conducted using production tooling, equipment, environment (including production operators), facility, and cycle time. The validation of the effectiveness of the manufacturing process begins with the production trial run. The minimum quantity for a production trial run is usually set by the customer but can be exceeded by the Product Quality Planning Team.
During production trial run and before full-scale production starts, the following tests and evaluations are performed:
- Process review
- Preliminary process capability study
- Measurement systems evaluation
- First time capability (FTC)
- Product statistical testing
- Production part approval
- Production validation testing
- Packaging evaluation
- Final feasibility
The result of a successful production trial run is start of mass production of the product. The first batch of mass production is sample tested for quality. The quality of the production process is monitored all throughout the mass production stage, and feedback given to the production engineers for adjustments and further action to enhance the process. All inspections, tests and observations are documented for later evaluation by design and manufacturing engineering teams for improving the process and reducing time and cost while increasing the quality of the product, creating added value for the customer.
6. Delivery & Support
The delivery and support phase of D & M process continues the Certix partnership with our customers in solving problems and continual improvement. The customer’s replacement parts and service operations always merit the same consideration in quality, cost, and delivery. The experience gained in this stage provides the Cetrix as well as the customer with the necessary knowledge to recommend process, inventory, and quality cost reductions and to select the right components or systems for the next product.
Compliance Testing & Certification
Compliance with safety and environmental regulations of a country is a requirement for introducing a new electronics product into that country. There are also technology standards that must be met by these products. As mentioned in the Design for Manufacturing and Assembly above, these standards and regulations must be integrated into the design process in order to for the final product to pass compliancy tests.
When Cetrix is commissioned with designing and manufacturing a new electronic device, this is automatically incorporated in the process. We have the knowledge and experience for product design and development and material selection according to internationally accepted quality standards, and the standards of major countries. This makes certification easier and shorter for the products we manufacture.
At the end of the product development and depending on the certification that our customer requests, complete working sample products will be submitted to a certified third party organization for testing and certification of the new product. Some of the certificates we have obtained for our customers in the past are:
- FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
- CE (European Conformity)
- UL (Underwriters Laboratories)
- ROHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive)
- WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment)