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APRIL 2020 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 49 differentiator between us and our competition. Implemented wrongly or inefficiently, it can re- sult in a design being more costly than needed or not manufacturable at all. On a daily basis at Optimum, we incorporate some type of HDI strategy into many of our customers' designs. It is essential that we're able to collaborate as a team to find a strategy that achieves the lowest cost possible. A couple of years ago, one of our designers wrote a case study article about the strategy that was used for one of our customers in which they needed to reduce the form factor space in half. It's available on our website. Shaughnessy: I know you all use Valor DFM, which lets you track costs. Barbin: Yes, you can plug a lot of that into Val- or. I've seen some EMS companies do a better job than others, where they put in a cost ele- ment by incorporating feedback from a DFM review about what that cost factor was. Shaughnessy: Do your customers come to you primarily for technology reasons, or for band- width or cost? Barbin: Just about everything. We work for anybody who will write us a purchase or- der. But we do very well for large OEMs and milaero companies that require consistency and scalability. To ensure all our designers are on the same page, we have documented our processes with flow-charts, design guidelines, and have incorporated checklists throughout the various design phases. Additionally, we are ISO certified and have cybersecurity measures in place to ensure our customers' data is pro- tected. From a technology standpoint, we de- sign approximately 250 boards a year from a very diverse customer set, so we have a very broad capability range. Matties: Do you see an increase in activity for orders right now, or is there a slowdown? Barbin: We have been growing an average of about 16% year over year for the last six years, and we're trending that way again this year. Matties: What technology trends do you cur- rently see? Barbin: Higher frequency and data rates. For SerDes, we see data rate ranges from 16 to 128 Gb/s, and for RF products, we see 12–16 GHz. We also see a lot of boards utilizing RF system- on-a-chip throughout many industries, includ- ing milaero, automotive, and IoT. For all these markets, we see more requirements for rigid- flex designs. Matties: When keeping your team staffed, one of the things we hear about is the shortage of PCB designers. Have you experienced that? Barbin: Yes. We find designers wherever they live, and we set them up to be successful in working for us. Once we have a possible can- didate, we will test them by giving them a small board to design. The idea is to see how they interact with our design manager. If we like them, we'll make them an offer and bring them on. For the first year, our design manager will perform peer reviews and provide obser- vations at the various milestones. Our inten- tion is to learn from each other and to continu- ously improve our processes and increase our knowledge as a team. As we scale our design team, it is vitally important that we do so in a way that ensures we are able to maintain our reputation for quality and our culture of pride of workmanship. Our designers are the rock stars at Optimum. Feinberg: What are your biggest design chal- lenges? Barbin: The biggest challenge is for designers to keep up with the increased role that they We find designers wherever they live, and we set them up to be successful in working for us.

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