Kent Balius

A top-down approach for reducing error-prone and time-intensive manual operations.

Last month we talked about the often ambiguous, unstructured design data packages running rampant in the PCB industry, which drive non-value-add administrative tasks across all phases of our data exchange and processes, and we underscored the urgency to integrate “smart engineering” data-driven processes, as becoming more efficient as an industry in reducing cost and NPI cycles should be a critical objective to all organizations. What exactly do we mean when we talk about smart engineering or data-driven processes? Buzzwords and acronyms are all around us, such as digital transformation, RPA (repetitive or robotic process automation), BPM (business process management), SaaS (software as a service), etc. All encompass a similar objective: optimizing our processes throughout the enterprise.

In the PCB manufacturing facility, some classic examples of duplicated data entry when receiving a new design package are in the front-end engineering process steps (FIGURE 1). Several generic steps occur across the industry, and all of these must occur, with the sequence varying based on the company or manufacturing facility. In many cases, each of these process steps are completely segregated software applications, which in essence results in non-value-added administrative tasks.

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