Customers sometimes ask us to react to the some of the extreme prices offered by Chinese prototype suppliers who offer 10 pieces of 100x100mm Double Sided boards for as little a $5, $2 or even $0 leaving the transportation cost to be more than the actual cost of the boards.
You do not need to be an economical genius to understand that such pricing policies cannot form the basis for a healthy business.
In fact, European and local legislation prohibits the conscious and deliberate act of undermining the economic value of a company. As an EU-company posting such prices online would lead to claims from competitors and lead to a court order to adjust the offer or to remove it.
The intrusion of these offers that do not conform to good EU conduct, feels as a major injustice as it is in direct violation of EU and local government goals of achieving a level playing field for all to compete with non-European companies.
Why the EU and local governments do not apply the same logic to websites outside of Europe maybe confusing, however they have little or no real control over what non-European websites publish.
What they could do, is ensure that everything that arrives in Europe conforms to the same rules and regulations that the European manufacturers must adhere too.
Only the sun comes up for free.
For the professional designer there are many issues far more important than the love for these unrealistic board prices.
Some customers see these cheap services as similar in quality. However, the total quality of a board and the materials used to produce it are very hard to impossible to judge by a customer. One needs sophisticated tools to really investigate and compare the quality.
For example, see our short video on Making Cross Section.
In many cases these cheap boards fail the test. Which is not very surprising knowing that their sales price is actually less than the cost of the cheapest NON-RoHS compliant FR-4 base material (banned in the EU).
Hardly any professional designer will take that chance. Pro designers are selling trust, trust that their product is reliable and does what it says it will do. Therefore, they will not risk this trust to add a few extra euros to their profit margin.
Are these cheap services similar in service?
Pro designers usually have a long-term view and build a strong relationship with their manufacturer. They look for other forms of added value like guidance and support.
Their biggest cost is their hourly rate, so if they can be more efficient with the help and tools they are offered by their partner, they save hundreds of Euros in hourly cost.
The total package needs to lead to getting things ‘Right First Time’. This will ensure that designers optimise their ‘Time to Market’ and be ‘Within Budget’, allowing them to maximising their products potential.
This is far more important than saving a few Euros per Board.
See our short video on the Optimum Design Flow.
Apart from the above, our professional customers are constantly requesting us to provide written statements on the following:
- That we and our suppliers adhere to the RoHS rules.
- That we and our suppliers adhere to the REACH rules.
- That neither we nor our suppliers use Conflict Minerals.
- That we and our suppliers respect Human Rights as defined by the United Nations.
- That we and our suppliers respect Labour Laws and Legislation.
- That neither we nor our suppliers use Child labour, as defined by the ILO convention.
- That neither we nor our suppliers use forced or compulsory labour.
- That neither we nor our suppliers discriminate based on ethnicity, sex, religion, social background, handicap, political opinion or sexual orientation.
- That we and our suppliers pay wages directly to the employee on time and in full. Lowest acceptable salary level is the minimum wage according to national legislation.
- That we and our suppliers ensure that the weekly working hours do not exceed the legal limit and that overtime work shall always be paid.
- That we and our suppliers ensure that employees can meet with the company management to discuss salaries and working conditions without negative consequences.
- That we and our suppliers strive to reduce energy and resource consumption as well as waste and emissions to the atmosphere, ground and water.
- That we and our suppliers handle chemicals in a way that is safe for humans and the environment.
- That we and our suppliers provide a safe working environment that complies with international standards.
- That we pay local taxes in a proper manner.
- That we pay in time and in full the social security for the workforce.
In addition to complying with all of this, we also support European schools & colleges and their students with their educational programs.
These are all socially important issues that contribute to a prosperous European economy and can only be achieved by making a profit and paying local taxes, none of which the Chinese cheap sellers are doing and thus they have no added value to our economic nor daily life.
We are confident that the total package we offer, provides much more added value to the professional designer than what the Chinese price dealers are offering.
Remember, the most expensive cost in development is never the prototype board nor its assembly but is always the cost of the designer. Regardless of that fact, there are good reasons to keep our designers here in Europe, accompanied by premium manufacturing partners.