Patty's Perspective: What Happens in Washington Doesn’t Stay in Washington—It Reaches All of Us


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I went to my second IMPACT Washington, D.C. event this year (May 1–3) and, as much as I applauded last year’s event, this one far surpassed it—just ask anyone who was there. In this month’s issue, a special section on IMPACT backs that claim.

The list of speakers from the departments of Education, Commerce and Defense, along with meetings with numerous congressmen and senators, plus the EPA and even the White House, was impressive. Across the board, the one request from all these departments was, “tell us what you need.” Manufacturing and business are indeed golden words in the Nation’s Capital this year. You really had to be there to feel the vibes—we are the good guys now!

One of the first speakers we listened to was Dr. Robert Irie with the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L). His office deals with manufacturing and industrial base policy and their mission is to ensure a robust industrial base. His department conducts “agility and fragility” assessments, engages in industry outreach and performs acquisition oversight for microelectronics (among other things). He mentioned the need for data-driven decision-making and the need for innovation. Not a bad person to have met.

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But wait, there’s more! We begin this month’s issue with an analysis of the Defense Budget and what it means for your company. Zentech’s John Vaughan, together with Brian Friel of Nation Analytics, give us a great overview and from this you can figure where the boards you make fit in.

Next, we have an article by Didrik Bech, Elmatica, on compliance strategies for supplying the DoD. He thoroughly discusses both ITAR and DFARS regulations, so get to reading if those acronyms are not familiar to you.

Viking Test’s Marc Ladle gives us a general discussion on manufacturing products for the military industry and the importance of doing it right, not just for your own profitability but keeping in mind those who are out there with their lives on the line and counting on our electronics.

Patty_Washington2.jpgAs is our custom, the I-Connect007 team put together a conference call with a few people to talk about the challenges associated with supplying to the military world. Freedom CAD’s Scott Miller, Lenthor’s Dave Moody and John Rolle, and Zentech’s Matt Turpin and John Vaughan had plenty to say on the subject, especially about the new cybersecurity requirements that mean a whole different level of compliance.

Dealing with lead-free requirements and reliability were additional subjects. All were expecting an uptick in business with the new administration in Washington, but perhaps it’s best to refer back to Vaughan’s column. Speaking of reliability, Steve Williams (The Right Approach Consulting) attended IPC’s recent Reliability Forum in Chicago, Illinois, and reports on it in detail. Topics included designing for reliability, use of embedded passives, reliability versus quality, and military reliability requirements. It should be noted that one of the reasons to attend such an event is the other attendees, as evidenced by the who’s who of companies represented that Steve lists.

Mike Carano with RBP Chemical Technology takes us back to the nitty gritty of board manufacture with a discussion on the importance of rinsing. Any of you involved in the day to day of PCB building know that this most basic of steps is one of the most critical.

On to other subjects—and this one is uppermost in the minds of most management these days. I’m talking about the manufacturing skills gap as discussed by IPC’s John Mitchell in his column this month. He doesn’t just talk, but presents three ways to address it. Time to move beyond talk and into action, the sooner the better.

Lastly, we have Derrik Snider of IMDS Data LLC to discuss supplying to the automotive industry and managing the reporting aspect of it. Pay attention, as the separate markets we serve with PCBs are merging and this may be automotivecentric, but it seems to fit into military and other industries as well—as your car becomes a computer with extensive communication built in and reliability becomes ever more critical, perhaps even passing that for the military.

So there you have it. I am still thinking about IMPACT. In one of the interviews, I believe it is with Dave Raby, Kim Ford (Dept. of Education) mentions a website. Please look at that, as it contains a wealth of information, including ways to contact her and others to provide your input.

Next month we will be talking about streamlining your manufacturing process. Can you remove steps? Are there ways to automate that perhaps you haven’t thought of? Check in and find out. You know the drill—subscribe here to get the magazine (and your choice of newsletters) delivered to your virtual door the moment it publishes.

Patricia Goldman is managing editor of The PCB Magazine. To contact Goldman, click here.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.

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