PCB Basics for Buyers: A Quick Guide to the PCB Industry

Correct Shipping Documents Avoid PCB Delays

August 4, 2020: The old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure certainly applies to PCB shipments, especially when it comes to tariffs. I was reminded of this recently when one of my readers asked for help with a shipment from China that was held up pending payment of tariff. The 4-layer printed circuit boards being shipped were, in fact, exempt from any tariff. But [...]

Straight Talk About the PCB Supply Chain 

July 16, 2020: The massive disruption caused by COVID-19 has revealed the shocking fragility of the global supply chain. Forget politics, wars, or tariffs. No recent event has had the impact of this virus. While it was first detected in China, this highly contagious, invisible enemy respects no borders. It has rapidly affected the entire world’s ability to produce goods and services. Predictably, the disruption caused by COVID-19 has prompted calls [...]

PCB Buyers: Be Ready to Pivot

June 30, 2020: Don't miss my latest column in the July issue of Circuits Assembly magazine! I list specific steps you can take to quickly and effectively pivot to other PCB vendors when necessary. And from time to time, it will be necessary. Read more here. Need some help evaluating vendors and making a smooth transition to new suppliers? Reach out to me at  

Don’t Let the Competition Hook Your PCB Assembly Business

June 23, 2020: When an EMS firm puts my company on its PCB AVL, it typically only asks for pricing on new projects. When I ask about existing work, the response is usually “we don’t move boards once they are placed.” Or “we don’t have time to re-bid those.” Or they tell me it takes too much effort to move to another vendor. That’s a shame. In fact, it’s business [...]

How to Get Tariff Refunds From a PCB Broker

June 16, 2020: As I mentioned in a previous post, tariff refunds are now available for 2- and 4-layer PCB orders placed in the last 18 months. If a broker managed the tariffs applied to your recently exempted board orders, you must go through that broker to receive the refund. Start by asking for a detailed list of all tariff-related expenses (TRE) on 2- and 4-layer orders you placed in the [...]

Step Up Your PCB Game Plan, Part 2

June 9, 2020: In my last post, I discussed why it's a mistake to invest all your PCB spending in one vendor. Unless directed to use one vendor by a customer, there is no reason not to always be shopping your current board business. It keeps present vendors on their toes. The business should always be fair game for pricing review. In this post, I want to expand on that [...]

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