Topical opinion pieces, advice and information relevant to OCM's customers and industry.

Patents & IP: Key Take-Aways

On May 26, 2016, OCM Manufacturing hosted its quarterly Engineering Mixer. These are a few of the key take-aways that we captured from the discussion. Go >

Get the most out of your prototype service

Make no mistake: a prototype is a product. While it may be a product-in-concept, from a manufacturing perspective it still requires time to set up, assemble, and properly review/document for manufacturability. The following steps will help to speed the turn-around and reduce the cost of your prototyping project....  Go >

Recommended Reading: What’s Missing from Design for Testability?

Design engineers need to be aware of the manner in which functional board and system tests will be performed and analyze their fault coverage and fault isolation capacities. This is no small task, and it's not surprising that many designers (and their managers) simply forego this activity—waiting for feedback from test engineers to do this during test program development. But by that time, the design is mature and with design changes costly requests for change will probably be denied. Go >

Cross-Train Employees to Maintain Productivity

Whatever your business is, it’s worthwhile to consider what opportunities there are internally for cross training and cross functionality. Following are some of the lessons we have learned along the path to achieving this goal. Go >

Partnering Expands your Contract Manufacturing Options

As a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) in the low-mid volume, high-mix space (translation: a wide variety of products for niche markets), we sometimes encounter clients with requests for assembly technologies that we may not (yet) have the capability to support.  Go >

Test is NOT someone else’s problem

Too often, PCB designers don’t consider test strategy in their designs. Why should they – test is a manufacturing problem, right? Yes, it is – in fact, all aspects of PCB design eventually become manufacturing problems if they have not been thought through in the design phase. But...  Go >

The true cost of DIY manufacturing

Manufacturers of niche electronics-based products sometimes toy with the idea of bringing their manufacturing in-house. But the true costs of manufacturing are often overlooked in discussions about bringing this capability in-house.  Go >

2 Worst Mistakes in Electronics Product Design

Over more than 25 years of manufacturing niche electronics products for a wide range of target industries, I think I’ve seen it all. Unfortunately, that means that I continue to witness some of the same heart-stopping (and product killing) mistakes again and again. If you want to be successful in working with a contract manufacturer (CM), here are two of the worst mistakes you can make...  Go >

Made In Canada more than a slogan

OCM Manufacturing's President, George Henning, penned this article about the increasing interest in labeling products as "Made in Canada".  Go >

Program Management

Perhaps the best means of evaluating the health of a contract manufacturing (CM) organization is to take the temperature of its program management. This article explains what the program management role is about, why it’s so critical, and why it may be the best indicator of a CM’s overall health. Go >

Re-Evaluating Low-Cost Labor Sourcing

We found this to be a balanced article on the topics of cost of labour, offshoring, and "onshoring" in electronics manufacturing. Talk to us at OCM about how best to reduce the costs of manufacturing your niche electronics product.  Go >

PCB Design Basics

This article from EDN Network discusses the major steps in the PCB design flow, from basic terminology to the primary steps required to move an example design through the schematic, layout, and manufacturing stages.  Go >

Manufacturing: A Pathway to Prosperity

"The main reason for the ongoing skills gap in this industry stems, at least in part, from outdated ideas that these jobs are dead end, unpleasant or low-paying. It's this idea and the widely-reported outsourcing of manufacturing jobs that have caused people to look to other industries for employment. That's truly unfortunate." We couldn't have said it better ourselves. The manufacturing industry seems to have an undeserved reputation as a dead-end employer ... but in fact it's a key economic driver.  Go >

Building Meaningful Products

As we reflect on our 25 years in the electronics manufacturing space, a few in particular stand out...  Go >

Built to lead: Magna’s mission to be a world-class manufacturer

We definitely recommend this article about how Magna is turning itself into a world-class manufacturer, competitive even with China! Among the gems: "To succeed in the way that [Magna's] Dortec [plant] has, manufacturers need to focus intently on the design of their products, integrate information technology into all aspects of their manufacturing ..."  Go >

Going the Distance

With our 25th anniversary on the horizon this fall, we’ve been reflecting on what success and stability in this industry takes. For OCM, it boils down to these four things... Go >

Recommended Reading: The Art of Concurrent Engineering

"When a product is thrown over the wall without regard to those who are on the receiving end, the company can expect a multitude of problems to arise.... But, if all engineering disciplines get all potentially impacted parties involved during the design and test process before the product is released, then the company has an excellent chance to produce a high-quality product that will ship on time." Go >

Managing Fluctuations in Production Volume

In the low- to mid-volume, high-mix manufacturing (LVHM) market, manufacturing volumes to vary from month to month. To provide an effective manufacturing service, contract manufacturers need to optimize operations to handle such volume fluctuations. At OCM Manufacturing, the following factors help to balance our manufacturing operations...  Go >

Industry Pulse: Interview with OCM’s President

Our editor recently sat down with OCM Manufacturing President, George Henning, to get his insights on the North American manufacturing industry from the low-volume, high-mix view point. Here’s what he had to share... Go >

Reducing Downtime with Preventative Maintenance

By combining an automated preventative maintenance program with the human touch of responsive and trained staff, we are able to pre-empt equipment-related troubles, resulting in more consistent and reliable contract manufacturing services to customers.  Go >

Bringing Strategy to the Procurement Process

Earlier this year, KPMG released a global study of procurement functions that found a significant lack of maturity among manufacturing companies. Working with a contract electronics manufacturer can give manufacturing companies (OEMs) instant access to the highest levels of procurement expertise, strategy and relationships.  Go >

Manufacturing: It’s Not Getting Any Simpler!

Recent research from IDC confirms that manufacturing complexity has increased in the last five years and will continue to rise over at least the next three. Low-volume, high-mix CMs like OCM Manufacturing already manage a large number of varied products and therefore have the necessary processes and cross-functional skills to handle the complexity of the modern manufacturing process.  Go >

Solving a challenge of processor design in low-volume/niche markets

"Chip suppliers do not see a return for their investment into the design process of ... unique, complex designs, as the volumes are far too low. This means that space, automotive engineering and medical device companies cannot take advantage of low-cost, high volume microcontrollers and other off-the-shelf silicon." This outlines a potential solution: "The use of IP cores in custom chips, which can provide access to the benefits of high-volume engineering: high-reliability, maturity of design and large investment, while retaining the ability to customise the device to exactly match the requirements of the user."  Go >

Lean AND Agile: Kaizen Update

Last Spring, we reported on our efforts to incorporate Lean manufacturing into our processes at OCM Manufacturing. Although Lean manufacturing poses challenges in the low-volume, high-mix sector (LVHM), we have identified a “sweet spot” for it at OCM and...  Go >

Contract manufacturing: maybe it’s not about just cost anymore

The authors argue that contract manufacturers are differentiating themselves through manufacturing acumen: "We may see ourselves entering a world in which the true difference is manufacturing acumen, not the cost of labor. As high-tech devices become more complex, compact, and capable, manufacturing design, planning, and execution will become more pivotal to OEMs' ability to realize value."  Go >

Mitigating Supply Chain Risk

In 2010 and 2011, the electronics world was abuzz regarding disasters that impacted or threatened to impact the global supply chain. While recent years’ events made for exciting long-term fodder for industry media, the truth is that the supply chain is always at risk. The availability and cost of parts fluctuates daily – sometimes hourly – based on a range of forces, from supply and demand to economic crises, natural disasters and changing...  Go >

Federal Government Budget Fine-Tunes SR&ED

We recommend this article from TechVibes that sums up the impact of the recent federal budget on Canada's Scientific Research & Experimentation Development (SR&ED) funding. Go >

6 Rules of Good Device Design

In this article, user experience design experts, Macadamian, outline why "The Apple Effect" is changing the way industrial devices must be designed, and provides the six rules of good device design. Go >

Year in Review

This is my first opportunity with OCM Manufacturing to pen a Year in Review and to reflect on the past twelve months as the new President of OCM. It was certainly a year that was filled with interesting and rewarding challenges. Go >

A Design Engineer’s Perspective on Manufacturability

As a design engineer for more than 25 years, I’ve learned through experience that the best way to protect a new product from risk of failure is through collaboration between the design team and the manufacturing team. Designs can succeed yet the product can still be...  Go >

A New Twist on Off-Shoring

While China and India still receive most of the attention in discussions about off-shoring trends, their contributions are only a part of the full picture. Many labour-intensive activities are indeed being farmed out to the far shores of populous Asia, but more complex activities are also being "off shored" to North American firms... - See more at: Go >

Lean AND Agile at OCM Manufacturing

At OCM, we believe that it is possible to be both Lean AND agile, and we have begun to pursue a lean initiative. After successfully completing our first Kaizen event, we are confident that we can become one of the world’s first Lean contract manufacturers (CM) of LVHM products.  Go >

Localize to Refine Your Outsourcing Mix

While nearly every manufacturer today can trace some element of its product – parts, labour or both – to Asia or South America, most also agree that some things simply can’t be successfully offshored. Examples include certain types...  Go >

Forecasting alleviates negative business impacts of materials shortage

Electronics component manufacturers were among these, and they have been reluctant to reinvest in growth until the economic turnaround is certain. As a result, many components are now in critical short supply across the globe - from key commodity materials to specialized electronics components. The good news is that the industry is on the upturn... Go >

OCM: A Paperless Manufacturing Operation

Many said that it couldn't be done, but OCM Manufacturing took one of the most paper-intensive business endeavours - ISO certification - and made it paperless. The rest of the business soon followed. Go >