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40 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2019 This month, Design007 Magazine is present- ing a variety of voices from our industry. You will find various accounts about how our in- dustry has changed, what new changes are on the horizon, and what will drive those chang- es. These are exciting times for all of us as emerging technologies increase the complexity of PCB design and necessitate new tools and methodologies to get the job done. But no mat- ter how much the design, tools, or the next new "thing" changes, there will always be one very human element that can get in the way if we aren't careful with it: communication. And while not understanding the zombie-like stare of a family dog can be funny, missing out on the important communication that takes place at work can result in disaster. So, along with listening to the different voic- es of our industry, let's also look at five ways that we can make sure that our own voices are saying what we want them to say. 1. Communication Should Be Clear and Complete The first thing to consider for clear commu- nication is if we are giving people everything they need for success. For instance, I have lis- tened to many PCB manufacturers lately, and one common theme among these industry voices is that they are not getting consistent and accurate data with which to build circuit boards. Missing files, inconsistent data for- mats, and even different units of measurement are some examples of the problems they see, which results in frustration for the manufac- turer as well as for the designer who doesn't get the results they expected. Fortunately, there are some things that we can do to help with communication problems like these, such as encouraging open relationships that foster dialog and questions and making sure that we prepare ahead of time and have all of the nec- essary information. There are some technolog- ical improvements with the tools that can spe- cifically help with manufacturing as well. More and more manufacturing outputs are changing from a collection of differently for- matted files to a single-file solution. This en- sures that consistent, accurate, and complete data is delivered to manufacturers for fabrica- tion and assembly. The IPC-2581 file format, for example, contains all of the information that was previously sent out in individual Ger- ber, NC drill, drawing, netlist, and README files in one combined file. Additionally, the IPC-2581 format is bi-directional, giving man- ufacturers the ability to send important board configuration data to their customers first. By providing all of the necessary data for suc- cess, communication between PCB designers and circuit board manufacturers can be clearer now than it ever has been before. 2. Keep Everyone in the Loop Even though you work in the same compa- ny or department, communication between team members has always been a challenge. It is very normal to think that everyone is on the same page when the person next to you might be in a different book altogether. Remember when we team designed PCBs by working around the clock in multiple shifts? There was an enormous potential for miscommunication between shifts, and serious problems crept up that often wouldn't be discovered until the fol- lowing day. Design notes, whiteboards, README files, and even the occasional phone call to an off- shift employee would help, although my ears still hurt from some of the tongue lashings I re- ceived from co-workers over the phone at 1:30 in the morning. However, all of this under- scores the need for better communication be- No matter how much the design, tools, or the next new "thing" changes, there will always be one very human element that can get in the way if we aren't careful with it: communication.

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