How to OEM RFQs to manage EMS providers and material costs

By Steven Linahan

Effective request-for-quotes (RFQ) share a common theme as an RFQ package that bridges the search for an EMS provider with establishing the principle tenants of the manufacturing supply agreement.

At provider selection, which is the exit point of a typical RFQ process, some of the better RFQ packages also emerge with most of the business terms of a supply agreement already in place.

Addressing both in the RFQ clarifies that the pricing you establish is what you wanted, is clearly understood and contains the math to how it was calculated visible as well as removing the emotion of unresolved terms out of the ensuing negotiation of the contract supply agreement. (See, also: Outsourcing Calculator for OEMs)

Standard quote package
In a standard EMS quote package, the following items are desired assuming this is not a stealth or confidential OEM program transitional search:

  • Mutual NDA agreement
  • Introduction letter that introduces you, your product or product line and a brief company bio
  • Product sample
  • Drawings of final unit and printed circuit board assembly (PCBA)
  • Drawing of silkscreen layers with part placement reference designators
  • Pictures of product and sub assemblies
  • Bill of materials (BOM)
  • Approved vendor list (AVL) / approved supplier list (ASL)
  • Engineering change notice (ECN) and deviation package if different than BOM and drawings
  • Annotate program parts and base raw parts and if purchased, or programmed at ICT not the actual JEDEC files
  • Custom part and controlled part authorizations to quote, or at least budgetary prices
  • Test process with test times and yield rates (actual, or assumptions)
  • Tooling that is to be transferred or, you are requesting to be made
  • Special considerations or requirements
  • Forecast by product going out 12 months with estimate for a total of three years
  • Supply agreement terms and conditions sheet (See my article: ‘9 key points help OEMs negotiate better contract service agreements with EMS providers’)
  • Time line and standardized response template that details exactly how you want the quotes formatted
  • Electronic copies with CAD files
  • Professionally packaged not a bunch of emails or separate files
Find electronic design services

In your search results, you will be able to further target provider options by choosing End Market, then selecting Go.

Most of the above are self explanatory except maybe the response format as pricing varies and is not uniform unless you force the formats.

Your goal is to get a uniform apples-to-apples comparison of pricing for all services you are requesting and to be able to establish a forward looking template for all of your business. Meanwhile, the EMS provider is attempting to create flexibility and to win your business; more detail for them isn’t the goal.

Examples of these formats follow below.


Typical material and labor

Typical Electronics Material and Labor




Bill of materials (BOM) plus

Bill of Materials (BOM) Plus






The above charts are a suggestion related more to PCBAs (printed circuit board assemblies), but if you are looking for complete turn-key product, which many OEM customers prefer, simply add a line for top level assembly (TLA) that rolls up all of the PCBA’s plus the top level assembly components.

Simple is better – if it is supported by enough detail to uncloud the cost drivers as well as clarify the cost structure.

Other points to consider:

Prototype pricing

  • This is usually: a hourly rate
  • A flat charge
  • A piece rate that amortizes the capital cost in the unit price, plus test time
  • Top- and bottom-side silk screen
  • Flying probe hourly rate
  • Plus, NRE set up time


Service and repair rates for out of warranty

  • Service is usually stated as material plus labor, (hourly rates need to be disclosed for labor and debug), or
  • Above can also be stated as a flat rate charge, which is preferred for some people. Flat rates can also be broken down into easy, medium, expensive, and NTF (no trouble found)
  • Material mark-ups should be disclosed and established as cost plus whatever mark-up as I have seen rates used that mirror production pricing to 50% margin as a FRU (field replaceable unit) rate (50% margin = 2x of material cost).

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