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12 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 Deming, Juran, Ishikawa, etc.—were reducing waste and improving processes, the industry leaders at the time didn't want anything to do with it; they were fat, dumb, and happy, so to speak. However, our quality experts then went over to Japan and pitched the same thing— only they listened. They started out-competing us in automotive, consumer electronics, and everything else. We saw it first and ignored it. There was a bit of arrogance there, as well as some, "That's the way we have always done things." People don't like to change. Happy Holden: If you look at some of your re- cent columns, you're going back to the basics of Lean, TQM, and Six Sigma. I know people who don't remember these topics, or they thought they were fads. For some of us that got the religion, it became a way of doing busi- ness. Williams: You're absolutely right, and repeti- tion is the only thing that I can do. We can talk until we're blue in the face, so it's important to keep it in front of people and cite examples and case studies. We're being forced to look at how to make money in this business, and it's no different than 30 years ago. You have to throw less away, and you have to be more efficient. People are finally starting to embrace some of these concepts, even if it's out of ne- cessity. Matties: The industry conversation today is around 4.0 or the smart factory, but you have to start with basics first. You have to document and understand your processes before you can drive waste out and make them smart. Williams: Sure, and earlier in my career, I would visit Asia a couple of times a year. The whole perception was that they were kicking our butts because of the low labor cost, but the factories were highly automated and con- trolled by process controls, and their waste was almost nothing. That's why they're still kicking our butts—not that they're paying their people nothing—their factories are ex- tremely efficient. concerned with cost downs, and we would pressure our suppliers for cost downs, but we knew that we couldn't expect our suppli- ers to take it out of their margins because we wouldn't be a very good customer any more, and the relationship probably wouldn't work. What we tried to do was at least start with the conversation that they need to try and take costs out of their process. They need to be- come leaner. They need to reduce their waste, and we want them to give us a cost reduction based on that—not take it out of their margins because one of us is going to go out of busi- ness. We did a lot of supplier development with companies on how to become leaner and work a little bit smarter instead of harder. That seemed to pay a lot of dividends. Matties: Many years ago, when we were print- ing CircuitTree Magazine, we realized that blue- line was an inspection process. For those who don't know blue-line, it is a non-value added, expensive inspection process done before you would print a magazine. Utilizing TQM, we woke up and realized we could eliminate that step altogether by changing the poor pro- cess. It was exactly what you mentioned. Over our years in the business, we realized that we spent somewhere in the neighborhood of a half-million dollars on blue-lines, and all of it was waste or a loss in profit. When we approached our printer at the time, they came back and said, "No, we have to do that." At that point in the industry, all printers used blue-lines. We challenged the status quo and had to find another printer that would be willing to eliminate blue-line and look at it not as losing revenue but gain- ing the capacity to bring on new business be- cause their man-hours were freed up. Once we found the right partner, we soared. Our profits went up, as well as theirs, and it was a good working relationship. Why don't we see more of that thinking in the circuit board industry? Williams: That's a great question. This thinking seems very specific to the PCB and manufac- turing industry. Back when the quality gurus—

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