By Greg Papandrew, cofounder of DirectPCB
Every year, many PCB buyers are caught unprepared by the manufacturing shutdown in Asia caused by Chinese New Year (CNY). By planning ahead, you can avoid that headache and keep your PCB supply chain running smoothly.
Here’s the most important thing to remember: You need to place your orders as soon as possible.
There will be a rush of board buyers placing last-minute orders and hoping they will ship out prior to the holiday. Unfortunately, many will not get out in time.
While the upcoming CNY is February 10-17, the weeks that lead up to the holiday are the most important for PCB purchasers. Here is next year’s timeline:
- Late January: PCB suppliers will begin to slow production.
- February 5-9: Freight companies will be overloaded. Expect no Express packages.
- February 8: Last day, as all employees will have left the factories.
- February 10: Chinese New Year begins. No manufacturing the week of February 12.
- February 19-23: Most employees have returned.
- Late February/Early March: Operations are slowly returning to normal.
There is no manufacturing at all during the holiday, but PCB orders are still coming in. When everyone does return to work, your suppliers will be trying to dig their way to the bottom of that tall pile of POs received over the holiday, along with dealing with the constant stream of additional orders that come in every day. It takes a good two to three weeks for production to return to normal.
So how should PCB buyers prepare for CNY? Here are a few suggestions that will help ensure you have inventory for your production needs:
- Talk to your customers now. Let them know the holiday is approaching, meaning there will be a few weeks where production will be slowed, then halted, and then playing catch-up. Ask those customers their anticipated PCB needs during the CNY period and have them adjust their POs accordingly to ensure minimal impact. Keep in mind that a few weeks of finished inventory does cost money, but it won’t be as costly as not being able to meet the needs of your customer.
- Communicate with your suppliers. It’s a good idea to talk with your suppliers to help you successfully navigate and avoid potential problems during the holiday shutdown. They want to help, as they want to keep you happy, too! Ask your suppliers what delays may occur and which part numbers they have most concerns about building in a short time. Then work together to find ways to effectively overcome those obstacles. A good PCB supplier should already have raised the issue with you.
- Don’t forget other offshore manufacturing locations. Keep in mind that Hong Kong and Taiwan also shut down for the CNY. Also, as Vietnam starts to become a player in the electronic manufacturing world, be aware that it also celebrates the Lunar New Year, with the Tet holiday falling on the same days as the CNY.
- Consider U.S. PCB suppliers: Of course, you can also consider U.S. printed circuit board manufacturers, who typically get an uptick in business during this time. You will, understandably, pay a premium for domestic service. Forewarned is forearmed.
Though the CNY shutdown can be a time of stress for many businesses that rely on suppliers in Asia, it doesn’t have to be. If you take the right preparatory steps, your business will sail through the holiday without a hitch. In fact, I have been doing this for years with many of my customers.
Need help navigating your PCB supply chain? Contact me at email@example.com.