How to Prepare for an Engineering Quote

Obtaining a thorough, quality quote is not as easy as it may seem.  In a past blog, Warning! Not all Quotes are the Same, we shared that reputable providers will ask many detailed questions to provide the most comprehensive quote possible. The blog also included a warning that providers who offer “ballparks” or “guestimates” may not have your best interest in mind.

When your project is ready to be reviewed by an engineer or needs to be re-engineered to move into the manufacturing process, you will be asked several questions.  Having the answers available before requesting the quote will assure your quote process is comprehensive, addresses your time frames, budget and documentation needs.

Understanding the big picture of what the engineering service is supporting, and the manufacturing requirements is often part of creating an inclusive quote that fully supports the entire scope of the project. In fact, getting the manufacturing and engineering quote at the same time is a cost-effective way to plan project budgeting from end-to-end.

In the case of requesting a quote for electronic engineering be ready for the following questions:

What Type of engineering services are desired?

Electronic engineers support many areas of the design and manufacturing process. Some customers know exactly what they need while others may be less certain.  At MJS Designs, we help customers identify the type of engineering quote that is needed, if a customer is unsure.   Typical engineering services may include:

  • New Electrical Design & Schematic Entry
  • Existing Design Analysis / Modification
  • Embedded Software Design, Code, and Test
  • Prototype Test
  • Production Test
  • Graphical User Interface Development
  • BOM Generation
  • BOM Review
  • Alternate Part Selection
  • Cost Reduction Engineering
  • Mechanical Packaging / Engineering
  • Documentation: User & Install Manual

Will you be providing a written project specification?

If not, an engineer will need to create a written project specification to define the important product design parameters. This may include decisions on the following important topics:

  • Input voltage range and power dissipation
  • Battery requirements: battery chemistry, battery life
  • Operating and Storage temperature requirements
  • Mechanical requirements: enclosure material, enclosure size, connectors used, harness construction, potting used, aesthetic issues (color, finish)
  • Mechanical shock and vibration requirements
  • Reliability and Maintainability requirements: MTBF, MTTR
  • Water emersion specifications: NEMA, IPA ratings
  • Type of EMI (Electro-magnetic Interference) compliance required: FCC, CE
  • Safety Certifications required: UL, CSPC
  • Other certifications: ESD, FDA
  • Special Environments: salt fog, radiation, altitude, chemical exposure
  • User interface specifications, ergonomics

 Will a Bill of Materials (BOM) be provided or do you need it created?

A BOM is the list of materials needed to assemble the component or part. The BOM can be used for comparative pricing of materials and address anomalies like replacements for obsolete parts.  The BOM should provide the following information:

  • Manufacturer Part Number
  • Manufacturer Name
  • Schematic Reference designator that matches the schematic diagram
  • Quantity

Will you be providing a system block diagram?

A system block diagram is needed because it summarizes all of the system’s major components and how they are interconnected.  A block diagram immediately conveys the system’s overall “Big Picture” composition.

Do you have a sample or prototype?

A system prototype gives the engineer a visual and working model of what the customer is trying to achieve.  A prototype is not required for an engineering quote but will almost certainly be recommended before proceeding to manufacturing.

 Do you have specific components that need to be part of the final design?  

Some customers prefer an end-to-end, turn-key solution where MJS specifies and supplies all of the components.  Other customers have very specific or custom components that they want to include in the final product.   An engineer will need this custom component information because any customer specified components will need to be included in the engineering design effort.

Is there an IPC class requirement?

IPC is an electronics industry association whose aim is to standardize the assembly and production requirements of electronic equipment and assemblies.  The following IPC classes are defined:

  • Class 1 – General electronic products
  • Class 2 – Dedicated service electronic products
  • Class 3 – High reliability/military electronic products

These standards govern what is considered “acceptable” in terms of build criteria for solder joints, heel fillets, component placement tolerance and all things related to building an electronic circuit assembly.   MJS manufactures primarily Class 2 and Class 3 electronics assemblies.

Is RoHS compliance required?

This determines if the materials listed on your BOM need to be lead free or leaded. If you are unsure of RoHS compliance, knowing the final shipping destination of your product could have a major influence on the lead or lead-free materials that are chosen.

RoHS compliance may vary if the final product is being shipped to locations in the United States, vs. Europe vs. Pacific Rim countries.  A waiver that RoHS is not required could be part of the documentation package for your product to pass through customs.

Does your project require ITAR compliance?

ITAR deals with the all the compliance standards required under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. You can learn more about ITAR compliance here.  To comply with ITAR, special set up and security is required for every stage of the engineering, design and manufacturing process.

What is the system cost goal?

MJS will need to know what the system cost goal will be so we can work with you to achieve the desired system cost.  The system cost goal will affect the overall engineering system design process from initial design to component selection to final system test.

And finally, are there any additional instructions or concerns you have about the project?

Items such as special system test requirements or unique system software requirements become very important in the quote process and need to be noted when requesting a quote.

Reputable electronics manufacturing providers, especially those with decades of experience, like MJS Designs, take the quote process very seriously. They invest the time to gather as much relevant data as possible to provide a comprehensive quote.  It is ONLY through a comprehensive quote process that a provider can consistently deliver project on-time and on-budget.

Learn More About MJS Designs Engineering Services.