For the past 20 years European Circuits has worked with Universities, Colleges, Research Centres and spin off companies to manufacture and assemble Printed Circuit Boards (PCB) in diverse market places such as Medical, Industrial Monitoring, Robotics, Space, Oil and Gas and Energy.

There are always challenges making things no matter if you are a business, a freelance designer or if you work within a community concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship but this article intends to focus specifically on some of the key demands that arise when working with academia.

Purchasing Process

There can be various purchasing hurdles to overcome. There is often paperwork that needs to be signed off in a timely manner. Paperwork can take a while in some instances so this requires us to use our expertise to obtain a firm grasp of the project and then give a fast quotation.

Furthermore, we assign an account manager to follow up the quote we give. An account manager can be helpful as they can help to focus the project. Time can pass by very quickly due to busy schedules and having a designated person here at European Circuits can support and push the project along.

Purchasing of components can also be very time consuming and we often find that customers like us to source the components for them which takes some of the logistical burden off them.

We also have to understand that the customer may require funding to get the project underway and If cash flow isn’t an issue we know that sometimes, if the cost is over a certain amount, the customer may need to take it out to tender. An understanding of the customers purchasing ability really helps when trying to move a project along successfully.

“We are very happy with the quality of the PCBs that we have received. As undergraduate students, this has been our first PCB manufacturing project and your team has helped make this a smooth process.

When choosing a PCB manufacturer, we looked for a UK-based company that could both manufacture and populate the boards. We contacted European-Circuits for a quote and were impressed by how helpful the response was. Having a single reliable point of contact with the company has been very beneficial to us.

The fact that all of the electronic components were purchased on our behalf was also of huge help to our project. Purchasing components for student projects can be a lengthy process with a lot of paperwork. Having this step taken care of has saved us a lot of time.

Ultimately, we chose European-Circuits as they were a reputable company offering a competitive quote”.

Adam Hizzey and Samuel Armitt, Durham University.

Lead Times

Deadlines can often be a factor for our customers so it is important we give accurate lead times when quoting and then we need to execute the job as we say we will.

In order to facilitate accurate scheduling of jobs we have invested in production control software. Progress Plus (opens in new tab) gives us quality reporting, job tracking and full transparency of the production process.

Watch a short video about our production software here:

There are instances where a project may not be as urgent as others and we can factor this into the quote we give the customer. In addition, we can set up call offs for throughout the year if the customer requires batches at various times throughout the year but doesn’t want to buy all at the same time. (This can be a good option if you want to get the benefit of a high-volume price but want smaller quantities at designated times).

PCB Prototyping and collaboration

The nature of prototyping is such that there is always the chance of having to create more than one revision of Printed Circuit Board. European Circuits has a design engineer in-house who can take schematics and turn them into Gerber Files for you, plus we see value in helping where we can with a design so we can get the project moving forward into PCB Manufacture and Assembly stage. We want the customer to feel part of a collaboration rather than merely a cold transaction.

Our design help is there to field any questions you may have and to flag any glaring errors. Ultimately though the final design has to be signed off by the customer because they know exactly what the product is required to do and we must insist that the customer takes ownership of the project.

IPC and Quality

Quality is crucial for any product we make and none more so than when it comes to our academic customers. A quality product and customer service are inextricably linked and it is important we understand the quality requirements of each and every project. European Circuits, as an IPC Member, embraces IPC610 acceptance standards as the basis of our quality assurance benchmarking.

Workmanship on all of our electronic assemblies is assessed in reference to IPC610 class I, II or III. All of our operators are IPC610 trained and we now have our own in-house qualified IPC trainer.

Furthermore, we can provide certification that can help towards a customer’s CE marking. You can find out more in our Approvals and Accreditations section.

Consistent with the ethos of ISO9001 European Circuits continually monitors and reviews all aspects of our business with a view to continually improving our service, capabilities and performance. Our Annual Survey helps us very much in this regard but it is also important we act on communication from our customers on a daily basis.

Moving forward, we see our online service offering as crucial as customers look for real time information and detail 24/7.

Adam Hizzey at Durham University gave us the following feedback on his recent order “It would be useful to have automatic updates as the boards move to each stage in the manufacturing process. This would reassure us that the project is running smoothly and provide something to report to management on our end” and we agree.

The launch of our new online quoting system this year should be a positive first step forward in this regard with future upgrades already in the pipeline.

Do you work in Academia? Are you looking to find a manufacturer who can make and assemble PCBs?

Contact us today for a same day quotation or if you have any initial questions please do ask us.

Do you want to find out more about our experience and service capabilities? You can find out about some of our most recent projects in our Case Studies section.