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54 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2021 into your design? As we have already seen, good risk management does not occur from the top- down based on the "what-ifs" but rather from the ground up, examining and controlling your process. e management of any risk must start early and oen, and look at the process that results in that design. If you only conduct risk man- agement processes on the finished goods, you may find yourself a day late and a dollar short. Also, no matter what measures you put in place, you cannot entirely remove all risks from your PCB design. But, with some simple steps, you can reduce the probability of prob- lems. Steps of Risk Management Identify the Risk in your Process e first step in managing the risk in your PCB is to identify the weakest links in the process. Fortunately, a PCB design process is linear and in a controlled environment, which means that you begin the process with a known data set, which for us is the component library. I have said it before, if you do not manage your library, your designs are doomed to fail. en the process continues with periodic checks made at crucial points to verify that everything is still on track. ese are gate-keeping items, and the design should not proceed until they pass successfully. With that said, the first step in your risk management plan is to determine the loca- tions in your PCB process of the weakest area and where there are no checks to catch prob- lems. For example, many years ago, there were no automated checks done on the compo- nents in your library. Everything got manually reviewed, meaning they were prone to mis- takes. at introduced a huge risk into your PCB with either completely unchecked or par- tially checked components. Evaluation of Risks Once you have identified the weak areas in your design process, you must identify those areas with parameters used to devise a control strategy. In that way, you can quickly determine the likelihood of a risk occurring and what actions need to happen—taking our example earlier with unchecked components. e pos- sibility of problems arising at that point of the design is relatively high. at is where you must focus on the next step of controlling the risk. Controlling the Risks Here is where the risk management plan begins to develop. Once you have identified and evaluated the risks, you now know where the risk is occurring, and you have the param- eters by which you will determine the sever- ity of the risk. Now we can start to develop the plan to manage the risk. Keep in mind that improvements in your PCB design process also mean improvements in your PCB quality. We are continuing with our example of unchecked components. Such a solution is to set a process in place to QC all new com- ponents. Many PCB design soware tools now check the components, which would be the first step, then conduct additional visual checks of each part of the component. Review the Risk Controls Risk management is not a process that is set in stone. Instead, it is something that is constantly reviewed and polished. Especially when prob- lems occur, as we will see coming up, we must review the risk controls in place and determine how we improve on them. at means there is no finish line to risk management. Instead, it is something that is much more fluid and chang- ing. I guess the best rule is to be flexible. It will go a long way to improving your process. When Things Go Wrong, Identify the Root Cause and Enact a Solution As mentioned before, you cannot remove all risks from any process, so what do you do when a problem raises its ugly head? It is not enough to identify the "obvious" problem; what you

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