Focus on the Impact of Data


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I spoke with Dana Korf about his experience with total quality management (TQM) throughout his career. Dana recommends not getting stuck on the process of collecting the data and documenting it, but instead to look at the impact. If you haven’t made an impact, then you haven’t done a good job.

Nolan Johnson: Dana, our industry, especially on the fabrication side, seems to be at an inflection point. We’re on the verge of what seems to be a changing of the guard and even some changes in how fabs are set up where business is done. First, what is your background, and what is your experience with TQM? Then, we can discuss if the current leadership of these fabrication companies has the emotional wherewithal to effect that change and weather this shift, as well as address how TQM fits in 2020 compared to the ‘40s through the ‘80s.

Dana Korf: I’ve always been on the process engineering side of the business when I worked in board fab shops, implementing all these various quality systems. We were heavily involved within our own department and between departments, trying to maximize the benefit while spending the least amount of money. I’ve been through many programs, and TQM fundamentally is an excellent concept. I firmly believe in it. Way back when, they taught us in ISO, “Document what you do, and do what you document.” All of these systems, including TQM, boil down to that line in my mind. TQM is the process fundamentally where you make sure you have well-defined processes that are documented. They have quality goals, and you maintain and constantly improve those quality goals for whatever level of detail you want to get down to, from a plant level down to an equipment level. It goes everywhere from how you manage the supply chain to how it gets kicked out the back door.

Johnson: Do you feel like TQM processes and techniques have gone by the wayside, or have they been incorporated to the point that they seem to be invisible?

Korf: If you look at quality management fundamentally, I started in the ‘70s. It was all human-based. Humans did everything from controlling the equipment to minimally integrating automated tracking of defects, etc. You look at it now, and the real transition we’re going through over the last 10 years and probably the next 10–15 years is starting to automate more of this.

We’re gathering a lot more data, and you can have lots of data and not do anything with it. If you have too much data, it’s too much for a human to keep up with. Now, we’re starting to get a lot of better-automated tools that run both within a process and within a piece of equipment. Two processes help present the data, analyze the data, and, in some cases, automatically correct based on the data. We’ve seen a lot more of that in our industry.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the June 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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