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SMT007-Dec2019

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36 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 Jordan: And in the electronics industry, we're not the first ones to do it. Altium may be the first in PCB design to create a platform like this, but our friends in the MCAD world have already been doing this for a long time. Das- sault has its 3DEXPERIENCE platform, and I'm sure Siemens have something similar, but I'm less familiar with them. With the 3DEXPERI- ENCE platform, for example, I know they've been doing this for some time, where there are different players. There are design engineers, marketing professionals, product managers, product life-cycle people, and production peo- ple who don't design the product but need to access the product data in a way that helps them design the factory to make the product. All of those people need access to the same information but in a different view or portal with various permissions and layers of security. Collaboratively building things like this has been around for quite some time in the mechanical world; it started with the automo- tive companies. Everyone has heard of Toy- ota and its famous just-in-time system, and mechanical software vendors have built those systems for mechanical design and production from the automotive industry. We all know how cutthroat that is with IP. We also know how it's the only way they can produce cars on a five-year cycle and make them meet all the safety and reliability requirements; it wouldn't be possible otherwise. Johnson: Cloud infrastructure is with us now, and it's here to stay. Back to Lawrence's ques- tion, it seems good enough for a number of other places. Having watched the demo and seeing what you showcased, the user-experi- ence improvements inside the silo—making Altium Designer 20, for example, an improved, easy-to-use and interactive experience, espe- cially in routing—are impressive. Now, through Altium 365 and Concord Pro, there's an opportunity to start to create a place to have constructive, concurrent dialogues with suppliers upstream and customers down- stream, driving from the designer's seat essen- tially. What I saw in the collaborative environ- ment implies a lot of opportunities to open up into other PCB fabricator processes: analyzing, quoting, working from that data, etc. What are Altium's thoughts on that? Jordan: That's a good question, and that's why we have someone like Leigh Gawne on board, who is our chief software architect. He is an engineer, and he was a customer. A lot of this has come from his knowledge of the process and the frustrations with it as somebody in the trenches. At the same time, those of us who fol- low what Altium has been doing over the last few years would know we acquired not just Octopart and Ciiva to look at the supply chain side of things and component availability, but we also acquired a small startup, quick-turn, prototyping assembly company called PCB:NG based in Brooklyn, New York. We've employed a number of other people who are specialists in production because that's the next phase of this. The natural extension of this is we want the 365 platform and Concord Pro to have additional features. You mentioned plugging in other things, and that's exactly the point; we're figuring out how to close that side of it so that someone who has to build the device can collaborate more directly with the designer and feed back information like, "If you move this part a little bit, we'll be able to lower your cost by 20 cents a unit." There are all sorts of different use cases we're dreaming of, but we don't want to be the company that makes the products. We're the software company, but we acquired PCB:NG so that we would have a factory to learn where all the problems are and what can we do. IPC is taking great strides to make the factory smart, and that's wonder- ful once the data's in the factory, but we must solve that problem of the gap between CAD and the factory. Johnson: That is outside the scope of CFX, Hermes, and other smart-factory protocols. Their job is to make sure that the machines end up delivering to the specifications that are in the design data. Jordan: Yes. That's an interesting and exciting space with a lot of opportunities for improve-

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