Parts for PA System Are Reshored Following Unauthorized Part Substitution on PCB
An American OEM in the audio electronics industry found out the hard way that quality is not always a given when dealing with some overseas contract manufacturers. A Midwestern PCB assembly company, TBR Electronics, quickly stepped up to the plate to reconfigure the high-quality circuit boards after they were compromised by the supplier in Taiwan.
The OEM markets public address (PA) systems for the audio electronics industry, a field that demands ultimate quality. When the marketing and distribution company received the PA system from the Chinese vendor, it wasn't working properly. The company investigated the situation and determined that a potentiometer was causing the problem. Without notification to the OEM, the part was substituted on the circuit board with one that did not meet specifications.
"The OEM was a customer that had been doing a 5,000-piece order with us who decided to use an overseas vendor for the assembly work," says Steve Miklos, a sales representative with TBR Electronics. "They had a very bad experience with the vendor, who substituted a part that they shouldn't have, at least without checking on it first. It didn't meet the specifications needed. So we ended up repairing that mistake, and then getting the work back from overseas. You can't substitute these parts. The electronic potentiometer they used was a cheap, ineffective part. It had to be taken off of the board and replaced with the proper part."
TBR Electronics (www.circad.com) is versed in PCB assembly, whether the work is based on the company's design or is customer-supplied. The assembly company has been designing, engineering, and assembling circuit boards since it was founded in 1990. It now operates out of a 10,000-square-foot facility in Romeoville, Illinois. The contract manufacturer started out as a circuit board maker, but it now sources the boards to local board houses. One of the companies is in Itasca, Illinois, and the other is also in the Chicago area.
The board outsourced to Taiwan was originally designed by TBR Electronics, so the company had the original bill of materials. After investigation, it was determined that the potentiometer used was not the correct part. "The OEM went overseas because their overseas vendor quoted them a much cheaper per part cost," Miklos explained. "When they factored everything in, including rework, it wasn't worth it. Another thing is that the overseas vendors don't like to do blanket purchasing," Miklos added. "This means that you must buy the entire 5,000 pieces. So we had to replace the wrong part on the entire 5,000-piece shipment."
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