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56 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 scriber, they can have so many tests done, presumably using an- other group of PCB shops—plus they have access to the data from all the shops now in the database. All of the test boards are evalu- ated by Conductor Analysis Tech- nologies (CAT) Inc. Block: Yes. Once you see the da- tabase and evaluating shops with it, you can see the true snapshot of a board shop. Everybody can sound good. You go on their web- sites, and they can all do every- thing. It's about whoever has the prettiest pic- ture. But this is a true scorecard of them, and they can't cheat on it. The test boards are de- signed to capture the transition from success to failure, so you see at what point they fail, and then you know their capabilities and lim- its. We don't want to make a board that's easy to pass because if everybody passes, then you haven't learned anything. Goldman: Exactly. That's very interesting. Block: Right now, our committee is trying to advertise to get more subscribers. Once you try it and get involved, you'll know how good the system is. We are firm believers. Our manage- ment signed up for it because they know it's a great investment because it has saved us so much. Norder: I'll add that PCQR 2 doesn't replace all other reviews and auditing. It's not something that you can use in a vacuum. Previously, we needed someone with 20 years in the PCB in- dustry to be able to go to the shops and see what they could do and fully evaluate them. I don't have that background, but I can use the PCQR 2 data to be a guide for when we go to the facilities to look at their equipment and pro- cesses and be able to see that they were able to perform at this level. We always like to have the PCQR 2 data be- fore we visit the shop. Then, we can say these were areas that they did well; these are areas that they struggled a bit. We can map that to what we see as far as the equipment they have on- site and what they purchased. I can say, for example, that their solder mask capability was aver- age. I'm expecting to see old im- aging equipment—not newer LDI equipment. You can be there and correlate their performance with what you see at the factory. Even though I'm able to do that and see that, I don't have to be able to inherently know every given step or process. I can see if they're failing at this, they have equipment that I recognize as being capable. Is there a process issue? And we can dig deeper as well. It gives us these tools so that we're not just going in blind to a factory where we're being walked around and being pointed toward fancy pieces of equipment—which is all I might have otherwise without that industry background. Instead, I know areas to focus on, and I can make better use of the time that we have there at the factories. Goldman: You go around and audit the shops? Norder: Yes. I've been traveling on our audits and picking this up for about five years now. I have nowhere near the background that Al has in the industry, but with the PCQR 2 data, I'm able to go in and get a good data-driven analysis of our different suppliers. When new submissions pop up in the database, I'm the one that goes and reviews them. CAT Inc. provides a lot of data on their web- site, as well as interactive images and analy- ses that have been prepared for you. They also provide raw data files, which is what we use. I pull them down, and we process them inter- nally against our own standards—not neces- sarily what CAT Inc. wants us to call good/ better/best, but our own internal standards for what good/better/best is for each struc- ture or process. Then, we use that to grade the PCB facilities and decide how they fit into the quote model. We do this not just in general Naji Norder

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