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PCB007-Aug2020

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10 PCB007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 Feature Interview by the I-Connect007 Editorial Team The I-Connect007 editorial team spoke with Todd Brassard, VP/COO, and Meredith LeB- eau, director of process engineering, from Cal- umet Electronics about the growth this Michi- gan board manufacturer has seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, with their panel output increasing by 20–30% in response to surges in demand. They discuss many of the unantici- pated opportunities that have arisen from the pandemic, and the effect it's had on their OEM customers. Barry Matties: A lot of lessons are being learned through this pandemic, and I heard you were quite busy with ventilator work. Is that the case? Todd Brassard: I first became aware of supply chain issues with sourcing ventilator PCBs from reading an article in Wired Magazine, which stated that China-based supply chains were being disrupted. I was puzzled because manufacturing capacity in China is enormous, and ventilator PCBs are relatively simple to manufacture. Apparently, manufacturing ca- pacity in China was shut down, reduced, or otherwise redirected due to the COVID-19 pan- demic. Later, we would also learn there were only a handful of PCB shops in the U.S. cre- dentialed by medical OEMs to manufacture ventilator PCBs. Meredith LaBeau: For medical boards, FDA ap- proval is a long and cost-intensive process that creates a reluctance to re-qualify new suppli- ers. Other PCB shops were apparently ready to help by producing ventilator boards, but medi- cal OEMs were likely not positioned to relax their qualification processes or able to travel during the height of the lockdowns in order to visit, audit, and qualify additional PCB manu- facturers. Brassard: Our first hint that Calumet Electron- ics had a role to play in the pandemic was when our sales team received that first email, stating, "Urgent, urgent, urgent," for a rush or- der of ventilator boards. We thought, "Wow, we have an important role to play in this pan- demic." In the following months, we produced PCBs for seven customers and 36 unique part Thoughtful and Nimble Leadership at Calumet Electronics

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