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PCB-July2017

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32 The PCB Magazine • July 2017 MIL/AERO ELECTRONICS SUPPLY CHAIN FACING NEW CHALLENGES other thing that has been kind of a mystery, and I'm sure everybody along the path sees this, is the defense budget, the DoD or Homeland Se- curity, or whatever—any kind of government program—the defense budgets and understand- ing how the administrative change is going to slow down. Obviously, it looks like there's go- ing to be more spending in that area, but it's not clear. Getting accurate forecast information or project information is difficult to do. We do our best to try to communicate with the cus- tomer and the subcontractor, etc., but they can only tell you so much because they only know so much. Miller said that as the device types continue to get smaller and pin pitches get tighter, meet- ing traditional Class 3 requirements becomes increasingly difficult. "You can't meet Class 3 in certain applications, so you're consistently ask- ing for a deviation or a waiver. Just because of the physics involved, you just can't physically meet Class 3 in some cases. And if it's a rigid requirement, then you have to work with the customer's engineers to fit the components that will allow you to meet that. From the stand- point of technology and architecture, we do things that are just as challenging in mil/aero- space, with fine lines and impedance matching, etc., that drive the consumer commercial world as well. From a technology standpoint, I don't think there's that big a gap in terms of what we're seeing as design requirements. It's been interesting to see how the government and the IRAD [1] product development drives a lot of new technology as the government subcontractors try to figure out how to do things to differenti- ate their capabilities, and that kind of flows into the consumer world eventually, and vice versa; the commercial consumer world is developing technologies that are now being adopted read- ily in the mil/aerospace." Lenthor's Moody next explained the chal- lenges from a PCB fabricator's viewpoint. "There are a couple, though John might have some dif- ferent perspectives from an engineering stand- point. The requirements in the mil/aero defense industry are mirroring what is available every- where else. The perception that there are cost advantages or margin advantages for fabricators to work in the military industry are going away and have been disappearing for quite some time. There's a demand from a business stand- point on their end to buy more smartly—and better. So, the days where everybody thought, 'I'm going to participate in this military busi- ness because I can make more money at it' are kind of gone. There is a protection, to some de- gree, for the domestic fabricators because of ITAR content, so that remains as a competitive advantage on the business side for companies, domestically, who are trying to do business in this industry. But it is from the other aspects, such as design requirements, delivery require- ments, etc." Rolle added, "It's certainly challenging from a business perspective, because the expectation is to be competitive and then to continue to re- duce that pricing. At the macro level, more dol- lars are being spent all the time. I'll build off what you were talking about earlier. Will it play down even to the fab level, where even if you're successfully participating in a contract with re- ally good schedule performance and very low defects, the expectation is that costs will re- duce if you want to entertain the next bid on the contract? I think in some cases those con- tracts are summarily rejected if you came back to the same price. So, I think that's the chal- lenge. I don't know that it is different from oth- er large programs in other industries. However, I just want to add on to what Dave was saying, that our experience has been a difficult one." According to Rolle, another challenge when it comes to engineering and tooling perspective, Scott Miller, Freedom CAD.

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