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MARCH 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 57 for high/medium/low technology, but for spe- cific technologies for each thing that they're capable of. When our PCB designers are working on a board, they can put the technology parameters of that board into the quote tool, and it's di- rectly matching. Suppose a board requires this very small, deep microvia structure. Which suppliers are able to do microvias with that size and aspect ratio so that only those sup- pliers are sent the quote? Now, our R&D teams have a selection of quotes—all of which they can have complete confidence in those suppli- ers' ability to produce the board. They don't have to worry at that level as far as the qual- ity, so they can look at other factors that may matter to them: Lead time for quick-turn, long- term production costs, or whatever it may be that matters for their particular project. We've abstracted away from the technology and ca- pability portion of the selection process so that they can focus on the things that they care about more, which is their project schedule, and getting their boards in at the time they need at the cost they want. Goldman: How long has National Instruments been involved in this program? Block: We've been using it for about 14 years. As Naji said earlier, it has now taken out the need for an expert like me. That's the great thing because in the future it will be hard to get someone like me. There are not too ma- ny people with my experience left in the U.S. Now, you're given a tool that anybody can be- come an expert in once they understand just the basics of it. That's the greatest strength and selling point of this tool: Anybody can become an expert overnight. Why do you need some- one like me when you can just look at the data right there, and you could crunch it, too? Goldman: When you do go visit, you definitely have an increased level of confidence in what your suppliers can do. Block: And even without me there to do the audits, when you're looking at certain things where they're failing, you at least can ask the intelligent questions when you get to the sup- plier; they can't trick you. You're able to go straight to the problem and say, "That's not true," because you have the data there. Tim [Estes] and his team [at CAT Inc.] are able to educate you on what the failure modes are that caused a failure. That's another benefit; you have the CAT Inc. team to provide some guidance. Goldman: That's a great resource to have. Block: Yes. And that's part of the package— educating you on what the failure modes are when they do fail. The other thing it has saved us, which is hard to capture the cost of, is the returns. My customers are now happy. When I build a board with the type of technology that we're making, our customer expects to sit there and use it for 10–20 years, so if I have an early failure, they don't like that. I just had a battery on my lawnmower last four months, and the warranty on it was 90 days. I was not a happy customer with just a plain battery. Again, my customers are happy now because I have fewer returns. Goldman: You have fewer returns to your sup- plier, but you also have fewer returns from your customer, which may be hard to put a number on, but it must be significant. Block: It is. With the type of technologies that we're making, the customer expects a rugged product. We're not selling a cellphone or some- thing like that; We're selling something that is very complex, and they expect it to work day in and day out. Goldman: This has been very good information. Thanks so much. Block: Thank you. PCB007 For more information about PCQR 2 , visit: cat-test.info/ipc-pcqr2

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