Choosing a long-term LCD Partner
There is a smarter, more profitable way to choose your LCD supplier. As one of our founding fathers might have said “All men (and women) are created equal, but not all LCD suppliers are.”
Your time is valuable, so here is this article’s takeaway:
Qualify your future LCD supplier before ordering samples for a new design.
You need to be sure the display will still be available in a few years.
For a company to be profitable, it must manufacture a product that serves a need and then . . . continue building the product as long as there is a demand. Then everyone is making money until . . . you find out your supplier has discontinued your LCD.
There is nothing more frustrating and unprofitable than having a production line down due to a $10 LCD that is no longer available (but hey, they were the lowest price). After all, when you select a display for a new project you expect it to be around next year and the year after and the year after that.
If long term availability of your LCD is not critical to your company, stop reading now and head back to the coffee maker.
Still with us?
Good.The right LCD supplier will support your display for years and greatly reduce the following:
- Cost overrides
- Missed Deadlines
- Cranky project managers with hot cups of coffee in their hands (photo)
- Aspirin (or Tylenol)
- Downed production lines
- LOST PROFITS ($$$)
- Mean looking purchasing people hovering over your cubical asking “Why did you choose a display that was going obsolete?”
LCD Supplier ≠ LCD Partner
First, you need to find a partner, not a supplier.
Suppliers ship you a product and then send you an invoice.
Partners work alongside you from prototype until your product ships out the door (and even after that). A partner knows the ins and outs of their industry and can save you time, hassle, and mistakes. That translates into higher profits for your company, which obviously means higher pay for engineers. (Make sure you show this article to your manager and underline this sentence in red. If you end up with a raise, please send me a bag of dark roast coffee and we will call it even.)
Criteria for choosing a LCD Partner:
Invest the time now to qualify your LCD partner. Below are a few questions.
- Do they supply LCDs and everything else under the sun.
- Do they sell LCDs and resistors and tie wraps and double-sided tape or do they focus strictly on LCD technology and market trends in the display industry?
- Do they offer US based engineering support?
- Do you get to talk to a technical person, or are you sent to a web page with FAQs?
- Will your display be available next year and the year after that and . . . ?
- Your supplier should have a technology roadmap letting you know what will be supported in the future. Focus LCDs is avoiding OLEDs at-this-time because their tendency to go End-Of-Life. (This may change next year – – – stay tuned.)
- Will you receive the same display year after year?
- There are many brokers who buy their LCDs from supplier A the first year and supplier B the next year to save cost. Many times, the displays will be close, but not exact. Make sure your partner maintains a QA system to guarantee you are receiving the same display time after time after time.
- Do they track the Controller/Driver(C/D) chip?
- The controller/driver chip is the brains of the LCD. Does the supplier make sure you receive the same C/D chip for all future orders?
- If the chip is discontinued, do they notify you months ahead of time allowing you time to modify your firmware?
- Are they ISO 2015 certified?
- Many suppliers are ISO. But, ISO2008:2015 is a whole different animal. This new standard has many checks in place to reduce delays or any last-minute delivery issues. The conversation might go something like this: Customer: “You’re late, when will my LCD arrive?” LCD Supplier: “Ah . . . How about those Lakers last night?”
Focus on Simplicity®.
Your LCD partner should follow the maxim: Focus on Simplicity®. That is, they are the LCD experts and know the pitfalls. Experts locate and solve problems before reaching your production line.