How Do Manufacturers Accomplish Low Volume, High Mix Production?

While many of the larger PCB assembly companies in the electronics industry prefer to work on high volume orders of printed circuit boards, MPL differentiates itself by specializing in low volume, high mix production runs. While this may be the specialty, MPL still maintains the ability to complete large blanket orders by the thousands, too.

Whether our customers require 10,000-piece orders or 2-piece quickturn prototypes, every customer receives our full attention and care. By equipping our team to handle low volume orders and to provide prototyping customers with design recommendations and a dedicated production line, MPL increases the efficiency of the PCB assembly process, reduces build times, ultimately adding to the customer’s bottom line.

Because low volume, high mix production capabilities serve a useful purpose for many customers with growing variability of product lines, it may be surprising to learn that these capabilities have been less common for the industry. Reason being, this production strategy is more difficult overall due to a number of factors, but companies like MPL offset these challenges with resources detailed here:

Investing in the Right Equipment

Specialty equipment is the greatest resource for any company looking to produce low-volume, high-mix orders of PCB assemblies. By taking advantage of rapidly improving technology, PCB assemblers can optimize their workflow, especially where it concerns high mix boards.

It is particularly advantageous for low volume, high mix assemblers to invest in high quality pick-and-place machines that operate using a large number of feeder ports. This allows for greater throughput potential, ultimately providing operators with the ability to quickly change from one PCB assembly project to the next. Furthermore, investing in the right equipment not only allows for faster transitional periods between different production runs, it also allows for quicker prototyping. At MPL, we are proud to commit to a 1-2 day turn for prototype projects— after receipt of all material.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management is another crucial factor to consider for low volume, high mix production orders. Because these types of projects require companies to anticipate higher variety in the components and materials, assembly companies must maintain a more rigorous focus on inventory management to quickly produce low-volume or prototype orders.

Keeping track of inventory and maintaining a large list of relationships with reputable component suppliers requires time and effort. Companies who aren’t willing to invest in comprehensive supply chain management are often less equipped to handle low volume orders, sacrificing quality in order to keep up with high-mix production orders. Because MPL expects and prepares for these, we understand the effort required for supply chain management is well worth the upfront investment.

Flexible Business Practices

The ability to be flexible is just as important for optimizing low volume, high mix production runs as supply chain management and proper pick and place equipment are. Because MPL is a more centralized company than larger competitors, we are able to work with customers on a personal level, which in turn allows us to adjust and fulfill requests much more easily.

Without the hassle of working through a lengthy chain of command, MPL accommodates schedule changes and moving projects to new production lines quickly and efficiently— which, with today’s supply chain disruptions, is vitally important to the manufacturing process.

Ask the Right Questions

Lastly, given the evolving nature of the electronics industry, it is wise for customers to partner with a PCB assembly company that is willing to continually improve their methods of operation. MPL is constantly asking the right questions and looking for new solutions to reduce build times and find new ways to incorporate shrinking component sizes into low volume, high mix orders. This dedication to continual improvement allows us to constantly meet and exceed customer expectations for excellence and efficiency.