SMT007 Magazine

SMT007-Dec2019

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90 SMT007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2019 it." It has been a good business, and our cus- tomer base really runs the gamut of anybody who's doing repair; it could be medical, mili- tary, avionics, or mass transit. Matties: Obviously, it's going to be high-end boards. Smith: Yes, it's not consumer electronics at all because, in most cases, it's manufactured at such volume that it's not worth repair- ing. Although some of our customers do con- sumer-level electronics, they don't use our sys- tems to repair. They usually use the systems to troubleshoot process problems. If they have a problem during their manufacturing process, they'll take the problem boards and try to fig- ure out what happened, such as bad, reversed, or missing components—that type of thing on the circuit components. We'll help them with those kinds of things, but we don't do produc- tion style testing at all. Matties: What critical factors do you think peo- ple need to understand about the repair pro- cess? Smith: They need to know if they really should be doing it or not and if it's worth it for them to do that. If they're not doing repair already, then they need to consider if they should start fixing their own boards and what that's going to cost them. It's not just a matter of get- ting the equipment; it's also getting the peo- ple that can troubleshoot, which is becoming more difficult. The biggest issue would prob- ably be personnel, not necessarily the equip- ment. There are all kinds of tools that could help them try to find the problems on the cir- cuit boards. But having people who can take it to that next step, understand electronics, and have a good troubleshooting mind can be hard to find. Troubleshooting takes a certain mindset. Matties: It's like being an investigator. Smith: Exactly. Whether you're repairing a car or electronics, you have to take a logical approach to figure out what's going on. It's not just a matter of putting it in the machine, turning it on, running a test, and having it tell us what's wrong; nobody makes that system, even though I wish we could (laughs). In the end, they're going to get some test results, and they have to have people who can understand what it's telling them. Matties: What person would they be hiring? An electrical engineer, or is this somebody that you bring in and train? Smith: It could be an EE. It could even be some- body who has a bachelor's degree in engi- neering, but that gets to be expensive labor, unfortunately. In the U.S., the military's repair programs are pretty aggressive, especially in the Navy and Air Force. They have some good people coming out of those programs who are looking for those types of jobs when they come out in the civilian world. Matties: The U.S. military is doing a good job of training for that? Smith: They get basic training, but then they get thrown into the fire, which is where we've learned to work with them. We help them along and give them some systems to help them do their job, but they still have to be able to do it. Matties: Do you train any of the operators to help them become a repair technician? Smith: We don't train them to be the trouble- shooter; the training we do for them involves our products more. Matties: Where would they go if they want to learn to be a PCB repair technician? It seems like that's a real career. Smith: It could be. Trade schools do that on some level, but they are few and far between. A lot of it now is software-based, so you have younger people who want to learn how to do software and programming, which doesn't help us at all.

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