The Perfect Job


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It can almost feel like it’s illegal, can’t it? Designers, we’re talking to you. That moment when the documentation for the job is, well, perfect. Because let’s face it; you weren’t trying for perfect. You just wanted it off your desk and “over the wall into manufacturing.”

After all the days and weeks invested into developing the schematic, the PCB design, poring over the data sheets and online libraries for component parts, and running the calculations for mechanical clearances inside the enclosure, you’re ready to be done. You’ve spent so much time sweating every little detail. Why can’t someone else just wrap up the documentation? You cooked, right? It’s someone else’s job to clean up. You’re ready for the next design challenge—not for a week or so perfecting the bill of materials and the design notes.

Kicking a mostly correct documentation set over to manufacturing is a tempting thing—a bit of subterfuge. You got away with something. Except you didn’t.

This issue showcases common themes and thoughtful insights contract manufacturers have uncovered on packaging the data for delivery to the assembler or CM. So, listen up. Your downstream manufacturing partner wants you to know what to do differently to be more successful (faster, cheaper, more reliable) in the transfer.

Let’s start with what the perfect job looks like. Some of the CMs in this issue laughed and said that they had never seen one. Lori Giglio, general manager at the NPI Engineering Center for Data Electronic Services (DataED), put it this way: “It’s hard for me to answer because here we’re dealing with new designs and every job is exciting.” As Giglio pursued that thought in our conversation, it became clear that “exciting” was code for “incomplete upon arrival and needs clarification.”

Sure, there’s good-natured joking about this fact of life for CMs, but there is an underlying seriousness as well. “Everything that we do is custom and/or customer-specific,” stated Joe Garcia, VP of sales and marketing for Green Circuits. He continued, “We really take pride in engaging with customers on jobs that are critical for them and require a quick turnaround.”

Lori Giglio also said, “I don’t often see perfection. What I usually see is somebody’s idea of something. We collaborate and get to a point where the job is repeatable and producible in the manufacturing environment. By the time it gets into the manufacturing facility, it might be perfect.”

“I’ve been at this almost 40 years, and I’ve yet to see the perfect package where we could release it to our supply chain and the Gerbers and BOM was straightforward and perfect. It just doesn’t happen that way,” explained John Vaughan, VP of sales and marketing at Zentech Manufacturing. “If you’re looking for success, the customer has to participate.”

“We’re equally efficient in dealing with startups to very large companies,” said Muhammad Irfan, president at Whizz Systems Inc. “For example, we consider the level of documentation required for each type of customer. We can run with them as fast as they want, but we also document and protect them and us to have a good end delivery.”

Back at DataED’s NPI Center, Lori Giglio was optimistic. “For every job an engineer walks in with, we can help them to improve it.” Giglio also expressed some realism, “Nobody is going to walk through the door with the perfect design at an NPI center. They walk in with something in their hands, saying, ‘Is this even going to work? Can you make this into an actual product so that we can test it and see where we can improve?’”

Duane Benson, an I-Connect007 columnist and a representative from Milwaukee Electronics, discussed prototype versus production, “For a forecasted production build, like we would put together in our Milwaukee Electronics EMS factory, we go through a new product introduction (NPI) process. It’s a multi-week process to prepare a design to go to the manufacturing line. We create a perfect job in that process.” He continued, “At Screaming Circuits [a division of Milwaukee Electronics], we do that six- to eight-week job in six to eight hours.”

That short amount of time to perfect the job means that either the customer gets very involved or the build start gets delayed. Benson added, “We have a lot less time to go back and forth, so to put together one of these on-demand manufacturing jobs perfectly, we need that BOM to be accurate. We need to know that all of those parts are available. We need to have the latest set of the CAD files, and we like to see intelligent CAD data, such as an ODB++ file; it has more information in it. And we need to make sure that those are all the same version. Even though Gerber is an old format—and that still helps—make sure it’s the same version. It’s pretty common for us to receive ODB++, Gerber, and then a BOM; one will be a 2.1, one will be a 2.1A, and one will be a 1.9B. But they all have to be the same version. Double check them and make sure the part numbers are complete and accurate.”

To read the full article, which appeared in the May 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.

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