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5 Essential Capabilities Of A Test System Build-To-Print Partner

On May 30, 2019

For product manufacturers, the ability to quickly and effectively replicate test systems can be an essential part of the new product introduction (NPI) process. Build-to-print services can offer full-turnkey assembly of test equipment that includes purchasing, documentation management, assembly labor, inspection, and shipping.

There is a substantial technical, logistical, quality, and related capability required to successfully complete build-to-print projects.

Experience and Process

The right test replication partner already has the right team in place with the necessary experience. You want to work with project managers with engineering backgrounds. You want a procurement team that has experience finding obsolete or hard to find materials. You want production technicians with a diverse skillset assembling your testers and design engineers on staff if needed to resolve technical issues. A build-to-print partner should have these critical capabilities to ensure a seamless delivery of your test systems.

Additionally, if you decide to outsource your equipment build, you want to leverage a company with a well-defined process that ensure consistency in quoting, procurement, assembly, quality, and shipping.

Without a well-defined system in place, you risk quality issues, poor communication, production delays, inconsistency, errors and unpredictability and you will likely lose out on all the potential time and cost-saving opportunities.

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Documentation Review

Hiring a build-to-print provider isn’t complete without the benefit of a documentation review from the company you hire. Before the build occurs, having an outside expert identify any possible errors, incomplete documentation, or inconsistencies only improves your system and maximizes value and efficiency.

Your ideal build-to-print partner should capable of providing you with support including part substitution recommendations, redesign capabilities, reconfiguration, test procedure writing and the ability to adapt to changes to allow the article to be successfully manufactured. Our customers have also found value when we’ve delivered updated engineering documents (in their native design program) or redlines of changes they need to make in their own drawings. Bill of materials (BOM) changes for substitutions should also be provided, as well as updated or corrected test procedures and quality inspection documents. We frequently provide turnkey documentation control and management for numerous of our build-to-print customers who enjoy the value provided by our engineering support.

Support Services

Logistics issues should be minimized and handled by an outsourced support staff that understands shipping both domestically and internationally, including managing all government documentation, customs, and shipping compliance (like international compliant packaging and crating) required for all shipments. Defense customers may also require an ITAR registered partner to ensure they do not run afoul of U.S. export laws relating to specific technologies. This same level of care can also benefit non-defense customers to avoid similar export laws. A seasoned build-to-print partner will assist you in navigating all of these requirements.

Deferred Costs

Outsourcing a build-to-print project should allow you to defer cashflow and reduce costs. It’s not unreasonable to ask your test replication partner to purchase all the materials for a given job, integrate/build the unit, test the system, and pack and ship it before you ever see an invoice. Additionally, your partner likely has efficiencies for building test equipment that product manufacturers lack. Internal loaded labor costs within a product manufacturer are also generally much higher than similar labor within a build-to-print partner. As a result, outsourcing your test equipment production improves your cashflow efficiencies while also lowering actual P&L costs simultaneously. The build-to-print business typically operates at low profit margins for effective providers, which means the savings should be passed to you, thus lowering your own Cost-of-Test in both P&L and cashflow velocity terms.

As you can see, build-to-print outsourcing can eliminate numerous complexities vs. internal equipment production while providing significant value to you at a low-cost point. Ball Systems’ customers receive value from our build-to-print capabilities that span multiple business areas including testing and troubleshooting, shipping, international handling, cost, lead time, carrying costs, documentation, surge capacity, etc.

Contact us if you’re ready to start your next project and want all these benefits. 

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