New Product Introduction (NPI) Process


Vision: To provide rapid R&D, Prototyping and Production Planning Services - on time, on budget, with the highest level of quality to minimize our Customers' time to market and ensure reliable future production.

Successfully launching a new product into the market involves a number of challenging and complex tasks, each critically linked to the one preceding it. All too often great product ideas fall far short of expectations or fail altogether because one or more tasks does not receive the necessary level of attention. This is especially true if the product concept is not fully validated during testing or worse yet, a validated product has not been optimized for cost-effective production and assembly.

API EMS understands this. In fact, you can say that we have built a very successful business around our approach to solving these problems. For over 35 years, we have evolved and refined our New Product Introduction (NPI) process by leveraging learned best practices and recognized quality standards in addition to utilizing highly skilled resources and state-of-the-art equipment. The result is a continuum of processes and services designed to yield benefits at every step allowing our customers to quickly and confidently move from concept into cost-effective, full-scale production.

Customer Concept

Great ideas take their first step towards becoming a reality when you put them on paper. Whether you have design schematics or not, API EMS can help you with this critical first step.

If you already have design schematics, we can review them specifically with an eye toward DFM/DFA/DFT, catching potential issues early in the manufacturing process, before they cost you valuable time and money.

If you need assistance with design schematics, our resident Design Engineers or expert consulting resources (available based on your project's requirements) will collaborate with your Engineers to create schematics and PCB board layouts (including Gerber files and BOM) to your specifications — incorporating DFM/DFA/DFT principles throughout the process.

We use state-of-the-art design tools including Allegro®, PADS® and Altium. API EMS can provide final design files in industry-standard formats.

Review BOM / Documentation

A great concept and design will go nowhere if you can't procure the components in a timely and cost-effective manner or if critical processes and required tooling are not known up front. API EMS will:

  • Review your BOM for completeness and accuracy and in the case of parts obsolescence or long lead times, and identify the most suitable components from your Approved Vendor List (AVL).
  • Perform a Design for Supply Chain analysis and recommend alternate components that meet or exceed the required specification, but can be delivered at a lower cost.
  • Perform a RoHS and/or REACH evaluation, and if required, make suggestions on parts that will ensure compliance, meet performance specifications, and minimize costs.
  • Identify any production processes or equipment that could present challenges to completing the project and suggest workarounds.

Project Quotation / Schedule

Who says that quick and good means expensive? API EMS aims to deliver the highest quality product that meets or improves your production timeline and at a cost that won't break the bank. We can do this because:

  • Our dedicated NPI purchasing representatives specialize in quickly acquiring unique or long-lead items.
  • We work closely with our strategic component suppliers (Avnet, Arrow Electronics, etc) to buy commonly used components in bulk so you are guaranteed the lowest cost and highest level of availability with limited material cost exposure.
  • We provide accurate prototype costing as well as full-scale production costing at different quantity break points so that you understand both near-term and long-term cost drivers.
  • We have a variety of turn-around options for your prototypes to support urgent or near-term needs.
  • We have dedicated skilled resources and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure your project is not competing with long-run production builds allowing your project to be completed on time…in as little as 24 hours.

Project Kick-Off

Among several things that makes API EMS unique, is the way we manage your project. We assign a team of the best resources using proven processes and tools to manage your project from start to finish. You can expect from API EMS:

  • Our complete understanding of your technical and business requirements for the project.
  • Well defined and agreed upon project logistics including meeting frequency/time(s), project plans and the most appropriate communication vehicles.
  • A dedicated "Tiger Team" of professionals including: NPI Team Lead, Program Manager, Production Manager, Process Engineer, Documentation Control and Quality Assurance personnel.

PCB Layout (optional)

API EMS's team of Design and Manufacturing Engineers work collaboratively to lay out a PCB that not only meets your functional requirements but can be easily, reliably and cost-effectively built. API EMS provides the following advantages:

  • Seasoned Engineering staff that includes DFM/DFA/DFT principles into the layout process.
  • The latest Cadence Allegro® layout tools and ability to support PADS® and Altium toolsets.
  • Access to additional Engineering resources through our strategic partner network to handle multiple projects simultaneously or projects that require unique domain knowledge.

Prototype Assembly

Prototype assembly is where API EMS shines. We have over 35 years of experience building highly complex assemblies…fast. The hallmark of our business is our structured "flexible" production process which allows us to manage your project according to ISO standards while dynamically providing the necessary feedback to your Engineers that will validate, cost reduce and simplify future production of your design. Our prototype assembly process provides:

  • A 100% bare board and component inspection that guarantees quality parts are used in the production process.
  • Incorporation of Lean manufacturing principles for streamlined, quick-turn production.
  • Dedicated resources and equipment for uninterrupted production that allows us to meet your schedule.
  • API EMS's award winning Design for Excellence (DFx) process that incorporates DFM/DFA/DFT analysis and feedback during the build.

Prototype Inspection / Testing

API EMS inspects 100% of our prototype builds ensuring that you receive working product on-time, the first time and every time. Our testing capabilities include:

  • X-ray and visual inspection that ensure that the boards are free of voids, shorts, missing or misplaced parts, etc. Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) is also available providing an extra level of diagnostic confidence.
  • All issues are logged, tracked, and directly communicated to the Customer.

Manufacturing Readiness / Transition to Production

Unlike most prototype specialty shops, API EMS is also an award winning, high mix, low-to-medium volume PCB assembly, electromechanical assembly and box build assembler. Our ability to manage your project from concept-to-completion provides you with some very significant advantages including:

  • Final enhancement recommendations are incorporated into the board design and knowledge transfer of learned best practices are passed from the NPI Team to the Production Team.
  • Manpower and capital costs for full-scale production (including tooling and test fixtures) are already known and accounted for.
  • Support for a pre-production pilot build to validate assumptions, perform time studies and confirm production readiness.
  • Familiarity with the project during the NPI stages that allows for a rapid and smooth transition into full-scale production to meet both initial product introduction timeline and long-term volume commitments.

DFM / DFA / DFT Analysis

With over 35 years of PCB design, prototype and manufacturing experience, API EMS is keenly aware of the impact a well designed board can have on the near- and long-term costs associated with the building and testing of your boards as well as your final product's speed to market. Our Design for Excellence (DFx) process provides DFM/DFA/DFT improvement recommendations to your Engineering team throughout the entire "concept to completion" process. Our recommendations may include:

  • Board layout changes that ensure rapid and accurate assembly of product with zero-defects.
  • Material and component suggestions that reduce unit cost and increase reliability.