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60 The PCB Magazine • February 2014 by Gray McQuarrie GrayrocK & aSSociateS Are Boringly Predictable Operations Possible? c o l u m n chaNge your dam thiNkiNg Self-help gurus like Tony Robbins claim that the more uncertainty and unpredictability we can tolerate in our lives, the greater our qual- ity of life. But we don't want uncertainty and unpredictability in our operations. Click here to see why not. Without question, we have excelled at de- veloping new technologies, new materials, and new processes, and we continue to do so. This is exciting, creative stuff where we thrive and appreciate the statement, "variety is the spice of life." But, what we have grown to accept in our operations are the unpleasant surprises and problems that too many of us describe as "burn- ing platforms." Is there anything we can do with our operations to make them significantly more predictable? Or is our only strategy throw- ing darts at the wall? A big part of making our operations more predictable is by being able to model and simu- late our PCB plants. The ability to simulate our operations, like an airline pilot can in an air- craft simulator, would allow us to sharpen our skills, broaden our intuition, and develop and test new strategies, with the goal of achieving boringly predictable operations. As nice as this sounds, there are three reasons why modeling is often instantly rejected before a discussion can even start: 1) we don't understand it; 2) we believe our operations are far too complex to be modeled; 3) nobody seems to have built a useful one in our industry (or has shared one publicly). In order to serve the industry well and prove our factories could be modeled to a high level of detail, this modeling system had to be devel- oped from within the four walls of our industry. So I decided to do it myself. And with the help of Robin Clark of the QMT group (my model- ing mentor and Yoda) it has been done: fait ac-

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