Standard of Excellence: Working for the Future—Partnering with PCB Vendors on Innovative Technology

anaya-headshot.jpgThe true test of the vendor-customer relationship comes when you need innovative PCBs—boards that are not easily found in the common marketplace and are so technologically advanced that they require your designers and suppliers to work together to go where neither has before.

A situation like this commonly occurs when your company is developing new, advanced, innovative products that require PCBs outside normal parameters and board physics. What do you do when your end product needs these types of PCBs? You cannot go to an online supplier or a regular run-of-the-mill shop to buy your boards. Further, forget about going offshore because even if there was a company that could provide these boards, do you want to expose your proprietary products to shops in China who think nothing of knocking them off? Of course not. Instead, you must go to capable suppliers where your trust goes far beyond a standard NDA. Then you can start working smartly with your supplier.

Every smart company that uses PCBs has to have at least one supplier in their vendor base they can trust with their business life. Here are some tips to interact with your supplier:

  1. Trust: You must strongly trust your vendor and be comfortable enough to share your company secrets with them. Trust goes both ways, so you should also assure your vendor that you will not take valuable information about the process you develop together to competitors.
  2. Respect: You must strongly respect one another. Both of you have to believe that together you know what you are doing and are capable of finding a way to meet the challenges that your new requirements demand.
  3. Communication: Once you trust and respect your supplier, you are free to discuss anything that is pertinent to your product. You have to share specific information, such as divulging what your end product is, what conditions your product and the boards will be exposed to, and what kind of reliability will be required, including length of life, dielectric parameters, and management of the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE).
  4. Cooperation: You will have to work together. Expect your engineers and designers to work with your vendor’s engineers and operations people. Both groups will form one team with the goal of developing a process to build the required PCBs consistently.
  5. Reward your vendor: There has to be a strong incentive for your vendor to work with you. At a time when PCB shops are short on engineering talent and other human resources, it is important that you promise them future business once you develop a successful process. The vendor has to understand that you will reward them for their hard work for and dedication to your company.
  6. Partnership: You must have an unencumbered partnership. Too many good PCB shops have been ruined by being lured into a partnership with a customer who desperately needed their help, only to be taken advantage of once the technology is learned and the production orders to go to a purchasing department whose loyalty extends as far as the lowest price. Be a true partner to your PCB vendor and all of your R&D challenges will be taken care of today and in the future.

In the end, it all boils down to mutual appreciation. When you have that with one another, you will be able to meet all high-technology PCB challenges that you might face.

Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits.

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2018

Standard of Excellence: Working for the Future—Partnering with PCB Vendors on Innovative Technology

10-01-2018

The true test of the vendor-customer relationship comes when you need innovative PCBs—boards that are not easily found in the common marketplace and are so technologically advanced that they require your designers and suppliers to work together to go where neither has before.

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Standard of Excellence: Preparing for the Future with the Right Supplier

08-13-2018

Is your PCB supplier ready to take you into the future? Sure, they are doing a good job today, but what about tomorrow? What will happen when new designs require boards to be made with thermal or RF materials, or have lines widths down to two mils?

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Material Selection: The Key to RF/Microwave Success

07-23-2018

This month's column is written by Anaya Vardya and John Bushie. In today’s environment, there are a number of suppliers that may have similar materials but price points and lead times may vary. If you are open to trying different options, it is a good idea to work closely with your PCB fabricator so they can educate you on these aspects. Another option is to do parallel builds with multiple materials in the early stages of honing a new design to determine the optimum material set.

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Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner

06-12-2018

Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.

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Standard of Excellence: 5 Things a Total Global Solutions Supplier Can Provide

01-10-2018

Our world now extends far beyond the traditional brick and mortar of the domestic board suppliers of yesteryear. Now our customers demand that PCB fabricators provide them with a complete and total printed circuit board solution, from domestically built ITAR-registered defense and aerospace boards to high-volume, offshore solutions.

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2017

Standard of Excellence: Customers are Shooting for the Stars—Are We Coming?

08-17-2017

For years we have been calling them “science projects,” those PCB orders that did not quite fit into our normal process stream and therefore needed special attention, as well as special handling. Often, we have had to use trial and error to come up with just the right process to successfully complete the order.

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Standard of Excellence: The Challenges of Hiring Good People and Methods for Success

05-17-2017

Increasingly, we hear about the challenges of finding and hiring good people in our industry. We are being hit on all sides; much of our work force is aging out while young people don’t seem to be too interested in joining the printed circuit board industry. Let’s face facts: Fewer young people are going to college to become circuit board process engineers.

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Standard of Excellence: The Advantages of Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuits

05-01-2017

Since their introduction, flexible and rigid-flex circuits have been steadily moving from the fringe of electronic interconnection towards its center. Today, flex and rigid-flex circuits are found in countless products from the very simple to the highly complex. The reasons for this shift to the center are numerous; most of them are related to the advantages they offer. An examination of some of the benefits and advantages will make this clear.

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Standard of Excellence: Staying Prepared with Operations

03-08-2017

Handling the operations of a PCB company these days is a challenge, to say the least. When I started in 1979, we were building single-sided, double-sided, four-layer multilayers, and the occasional six-layer if you really had your act together. We were using FR-4 materials sprinkled in with an occasional polyimide build.

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2016

Standard of Excellence: Selling Technology—A PCB Engineer Transitions to Sales

12-21-2016

Selling technology today takes a great deal of time, patience and most of all knowledge of the product. There was a time when a salesperson was just that, a salesperson. Now, with the onset of all the new technologies, from RF and metal backed boards to flex and rigid-flex boards, to HDI and microvia boards and heavy copper boards, a salesperson must know what he’s talking about.

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Standard of Excellence: RF Microwave Technology—The Future is Now

11-29-2016

Although RF/microwave technology has been around for a considerable amount of time, many people are still not sure exactly what it is. This month, I am going to dedicate my column to explaining exactly what it is, why it is used, and in what products is it used. I’ll also discuss who needs it.

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Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

11-18-2016

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

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Communication Breeds Success

08-29-2016

We all need to talk to one another. You need to work closely with your customers. And we all need to work with the new generation of PCB designers and design engineers, many of whom have never set foot in a board shop. Fortunately, they make up for their lack of DFM knowledge with their hunger for information.

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The Future is in Fine Lines

07-11-2016

The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces.

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LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

05-25-2016

Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well...

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Tips for Finding a Great PCB R&D Partner

04-06-2016

This new column, Standard of Excellence, represents a cooperative writing effort by a team of experts at American Standard Circuits. This month, we begin with CEO Anaya Vardya, who focuses on R&D. In his piece, he provides his insights on what characteristics to look for in a good R&D PCB fabrication vendor partner, and a few things that are expected of them to do for you.

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