PCB Assembly Services - Screaming Circuits: What Can You Do About Parts Shortages


What Can You Do About Parts Shortages

I hate to put such a grim face on things, but the supply chain is a mess. There is no way to sugar coat it - a coating of sugar may make things taste better, but it mucks up the pick and place machines.

A lot of parts have really long lead times. In many cases, we aren't even being given answers as to when they might be available again. It's not just availability. The shipping is pretty messed up too.

  • We can't depend on overnight shipping from our parts suppliers, even with small quantities
  • We ask for patience - we simply don't know when many parts will be back in stock
  • It's getting worse and will continue to get worse before it gets better.

Okay. Now I'm depressed about this. We're doing or best and there are a few things you can do to help.

First, be flexible and fast with substitutions. Be creative in components selection and if possible, design for greater tolerances to accommodate a wider range of components.

Second, don't ask for a lot of quantity quotes. Please try to limit it to three different quantities.

Third, understand that prices and availability can change quickly and without notice. We have to expire and requote parts quotes in two weeks.

The good news is that none of this is affecting our assembly labor pricing right now. We really struggled through fires, Internet outages and ice storms late last year and early this year, but we're back up to full speed so once we have the parts, we're good to go.

TH resistors
I might be sitting on a gold mine here!

Sorry to be a downer, but it will get better. We went through this in 2018 and things got better. It will be rough for a while, but the good news is that on balance, this is a sign of strength and demand in the design and manufacturing industry.

And speaking of demand, if you have demand for some PCB assembly, Screaming Circuits can do that.

Duane Benson
Please calculate the total resistance shown from lower right to upper left
Consider wire oxidation and the jumbled mess factor


Hi Screaming Circuits, thanks for the advice. I have a few questions regarding strategy for ordering with DigiKey and Mouser for parts that are in high demand. I've noticed that on Mouser's website, they give an estimated date and quantity of parts expected. DigiKey doesn't seem to present that information. I've heard you need to add items to your cart on DigiKey in order to see the expected date. Is that true? If I order parts from DigiKey or Mouser and checkout and pay for them, does that put me first in line for getting the parts when they come in? Or is the best strategy just to wait until they have stock and buy them quickly? Further, I've noticed DigiKey has a button to "notify me when this is in stock". Mouser doesn't seem to have that option. I've heard from a friend who has scheduled orders with DigiKey that they will actually hold your parts in stock to deliver them at your scheduled time. This is strategic as the website would show 0 stock for normal people, but people with scheduled orders would essentially have priority.

I build boards in quantities of about 250, so I'm not buying full reels. I've found if the microcontrollers I need are in stock in DigiKey and Mouser, they are out of stock very quickly, so I'm just trying to network with others to develop a good ordering strategy.

If anybody has any advice or feedback on this strategy, I'd love to hear it, thanks!

It works out to 10 ohms/sq.

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