Small cable assembly order sizes don’t have to slow you down


You need cable assemblies that are built for robustness and work as designed. You just don’t need that many of them.

A tough position. But not an impossible one.

Most suppliers will turn you away if you can’t meet a high order minimum — domestically or internationally, that might be around 500 to 1000 cable assemblies. If you need to start smaller to scale responsibly, those can be disheartening numbers.

Multi-Tek orients itself around the needs of OEMs. While we can’t take every project, we don’t force you into a ridiculous risk buy. We’ve honed our process management to limit overhead costs and meet OEMs’ needs at a more reasonable place than other suppliers.

We’ll walk through our approach to small orders and share some advice for alternative solutions if we’re not a good fit.

What order quantities does Multi-Tek accomodate?

Our typical order minimum is 50 cable assemblies. That allows us to provide you with a quality product while meeting our overhead costs for sourcing and quoting.

We often get inquiries from people who want fewer cable assemblies than that. And occasionally, we make exceptions as part of our ongoing commitment to OEMs and insight into their particular challenges. Those exceptions tend to fall into one of two camps:

Scenario one: You have plans to scale

You might just want a few cable assemblies to test with during R&D. In that case, we’d ask what your anticipated annual order size would be. If there’s a mutual fit, we can proceed with quoting.

And, if you just need a single cable assembly to confirm your design and make last-minute adjustments before you receive a full order, sending out a first article-in-hand is standard practice.

Scenario two: Other products in your organization need cable assemblies

You might need only a few cables for a certain product. But if your organization could use cable assemblies for other product lines, we could still be a good fit. We’d talk about your other cable assembly needs and work together to find a way forward.

Fit into either category? Reach out. We’ll get back to you within hours.

Sidenote: We know that OEMs with small order sizes can feel slighted when working with suppliers who have their eyes on bigger fish.

Not here. Once your order reaches the floor, it’s treated the same as any other. We don’t make concessions on service and responsiveness. They’re key facets of our identity.

Okay, so if I’m not a fit for Multi-Tek, what do I do?

If you don’t want to buy additional cables just to meet the order minimum — and, frankly, few do — you still have a few options available:

Talk to a prototype service

An online search for cable assembly prototyping services can yield some useful results. You would likely need to accept the possibility of paying a significant premium for these prototypes, but this could still make financial sense.

Even so, to avoid risking reliability, you’ll want to ask your prototyping service some specific questions:

  • Are they ISO 9001 certified? Without ISO 9001 certification, you have no insight into what quality control measures your supplier is employing. 
  • Do they build to IPC/WHMA-A-620 standards? Among reputable manufacturers, the IPC/WHMA-A-620 guides all cable assembly production. Suppliers that build to these standards will provide you with cable assemblies that accurately represent your design. 
  • How long have they been in business? There are new cable assembly houses that produce good work, and you could always give them a chance. But we’d recommend looking for a prototype service that’s been active for at least 10 years. That would indicate a pattern of producing successful work. 

Find a small-scale cable assembly shop

There are “mom-and-pop” cable assembly manufacturers out there. These are generally staffed by a couple of people. There are some risks here: Quality control is often weak, and you risk the inclusion of knock-off parts.

While these shops can make orders of one to five cables, you’ll need to be vigilant about quality control. Start by asking them about certifications and processes, just like you would with a prototype service.

But working with M12s can be tricky. Custom injection molded M12 cables, ordered to the specific lengths and breakouts needed to reach the devices being monitored and controlled, come with high costs and long lead times.

Produce your cable assemblies in-house

Plenty of OEMs still produce their cable assemblies in-house. That might make the most sense for you, too. In that case, a couple pieces of advice:

  • Invest in basic wire processing equipment: The most important piece of equipment here is an automatic or computerized wire stripper. It’s a small piece of equipment, but it will save you time, provide you with more accurate strip lengths and ensure you’re not nicking or severing pieces of wire. For an investment that’s a little over a thousand dollars, you’re now able to produce cable assemblies that are repeatable and accurate to your design. 
  • Consult relevant sections of the IPC/WHMA-A-620 manual: This is a thick book, but it’s crucial to cable assembly production. You don’t need to read the whole thing, but with this manual, you’ll be able to follow clear instructions for each process that your design requires for a quality cable assembly. 

Want to talk shop?

It’s hard to find the right supplier. And it’s even harder when you’re not looking to place a large order. We recognize that.

Multi-Tek builds its reputation on real partnership and a commitment to reliability. That means airtight quality control. It also means providing design support and adjusting to last-minute changes or emergencies without missing a beat.

Think there’s a good mutual fit? Get in touch.

We’ve been that partner since the 1990s. To talk to an expert about your application requirements, just reach out. We’ll be in touch within a business day, if not sooner, and will help you figure out next steps.