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PCBD-Mar2014

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18 The PCB Design Magazine • March 2014 documentation requirements should be part of any documentation efficiency calculation. When considering the efficiency of your PCB documentation process, you must measure both creation and maintenance of a complete documentation set for the full life cycle of the product. A new product's documentation cy- cle typically begins at the pro- totype stage. From there, the number of documentation it- erations can easily reach dou- ble digits. Consider that each iteration of a documentation set has both tangible and in- tangible costs, the greatest tangible cost likely being the salary of the individual creat- ing the documents. Assum- ing an average PCB designer salary of $75,000, and 20% of his time devoted to origi- nating documentation, an- nual documentation costs will average $15,000 per de- signer. That amount does not include time spent revis- ing original documentation or documenting rework in- structions to update in-house product inventory. If we assume that revis- ing a document takes 50% of the time it took to originate, add another 10% or $7,500, and your annual documenta- tion costs rise to $22,500, a hefty sum if you are creating a basic two-sheet documenta- tion set. Developing military standard PCB documentation can usurp more than 40% of a PCB designer's time. For those products, the cost of creating and maintaining documentation can easily escalate. Some engineering organizations operate with- out dedicated PCB designers and require electri- cal engineers to complete the PCB design pro- cess. Because the average salary of an electrical engineer is higher than that of a PCB designer, this could factor into the high cost of creating documentation. There are also intangible costs that are dif- ficult to quantify. An inefficient documenta- tion process that results in delays or a lengthy new product introduction process bears lost opportunity costs. Errors in the documentation set can result in multiple un- planned documentation revi- sions, re-spins of the PCBs, and errors in the assembly or part procurement process. Having a PCB designer focus 20% or more of his time on documentation rather than PCB design will delay the start of the next PCB design project. Sharing a networked PCB design product license to create documentation and design PCBs may require us- ers to postpone critical tasks until product licenses are made available. To mitigate the cost of documentation, begin by evaluating your PCB docu- mentation tools and con- sidering how well they meet your documentation requirements. Using a PCB CAD tool with minimal sup- port for basic documenta- tion tasks may require ad- ditional effort for working around its shortcomings. For example, what does it take to draw a complex lay- er stackup detail or multi- row drill chart? How easily can these details be updated when the layer count is in- creased, drill counts are changed or new drill sizes added? Secondly, you should examine the documentation process and doc- umentation requirements across all members of your organization. Follow the documenta- tion trail to learn how each member of the entire enterprise uses the documentation set. Developing military standard PCB documenta- tion can usurp more than 40% of a PCB designer's time. For those products, the cost of creating and maintain- ing documentation can easily escalate. Some engineering organizations operate without dedicated PCB designers and require electrical engineers to complete the PCB design process. Because the average salary of an electrical engineer is higher than that of a PCB designer, this could factor into the high cost of creating documentation. " " MITIGATING THE HIGH COST OF PCB DOCuMENTATION continues feature

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