Buy materials and components NOW!
You have a project with a deadline in 6 months. You already know what laminate brand to use, Rogers, Panasonic, Isola, or whatever you have chosen. You checked that it is available, and it is. Great! Let us start working on that design.
After months and months of hard work, you are finally ready to start production. But now the factory comes back and says that either the laminate material or some of the components are out of stock, and lead time is 8-10 weeks.
What do you do now? Your deadline is in 5 weeks, the PCB production + assembly was estimated to take 4 weeks, when you received the quotation, but now you are waiting 8 weeks before the PCB manufacturer receives new inventory of the material.
To sum up. You are going to be very late and finding solutions now can be time-consuming and VERY costly.
What you can do is: You have had a longer time to work on this project than your factory. You have already researched what laminate to work with, and the BOM list has been complete for a long time.
We suggest that you buy as much as you can in advance. Tell the factory to buy the laminates now, rather than later. Tell your assembly house to order the components or buy it yourself as soon as possible. If you are not sure about the quantities of your boards, and that is what makes you hesitate to buy, then you must make it a priority to find out.
The risk of delay is far greater if you wait until last minute, when you could have done it months ago.
If you are the procrastinating type, a good idea is to have a very flexible attitude towards material or component alternatives – in that case you may be able to switch out some of the parts to shorter lead-time alternatives.
Unless you have some very specific approval processes it can be advised to have second sources ready none the less.
If you don’t plan ahead the current and increasing component shortage will hit you hard!