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MAY 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 41 for the very same reasons that their PCB coun- terparts have benefitted. There are many time- consuming and relatively manual operations, including: • DFM/DFA: Critical to manufacturing and often an afterthought with limited domestic capability • BOM scrubbing: Renaming and removing parts from the submitted document in preparation for manufacturing • BOM to CAD comparison: Matching components in the BOM against CAD for parts and quantity • Polarity auditing • Fiducial marking • Pick-and-place machine programming • Shop floor assembly document Additional "back office support" activities can be outsourced, including quote prepara- tion, purchase order planning, and placement and logistics support. In fact, the whole supply chain can be streamlined. As with the selection of a basic CAM services provider, the process can be very similar to that of direct employee hiring—reference checking, trial performance, and all appropriate due diligence. Clearly, this COVID-19 pandemic is the great- est global crisis of this century and perhaps of the lifetime of most of the 7.8 billion people on Earth. The financial and economic crisis will linger long after the immediate health is- sues have subsided. Accepted "norms" and the rules we have lived by will no longer apply. Some unprecedented actions have taken place between February 2020 and now. For example, • Some people experiencing homelessness have been moved into housing • Utilities continue to be supplied when the bills cannot be paid • Paid sick leave has been extended more broadly • Student loans have been frozen and may be totally suspended • Most people are wearing face masks and standing six feet apart • An unprecedented number of technical workers who—considered "essential"— are successfully working from home Benefits Given the scale of financial market losses the world has experienced since February, compa- nies are likely to discard the just-in-time model and favor a supply chain that is closer to home and filled with redundancies to protect against future disruption. The result may be smaller near-term profits but can render the entire sys- tem more resilient. Similar protective redundancies can be re- alized by utilizing a well-established offshore computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) service. Twenty years ago, CAM services from India were introduced to the PCB industry as a cost-effec- tive supplement to in-house front engineering. Top management embraced this activity as they saw the need to become or remain competitive, especially against offshore manufacturers. The CAM managers within a PCB fabrication com- pany found this to be a way to ensure consis- tent output or respond to surges, especially as talented CAM labor became scarce. Additional benefits were also seen, including: 1. Better timing: Sending jobs late afternoon and receiving them back the following morning due to half-day, time zone differentials. 2. Continuity and dependability: There's never a day of sick leave or other unscheduled, missed time. 3. Higher quality and fewer errors: Due to the skill level of the operators (college degrees) and their focus only being on PCB CAM and the quality infrastructure that is built to have a dynamic specification or work instructions. 4. Wage economics: Allowing for quality checkers and additional redundancy. 5. Stability: Operators assigned to one client so that they become familiar as if they were in the factory. 6. Virtual training and web capabilities: Recently, these have been enormously helpful. Looking Forward The PCB assembly industry is the next logi- cal segment to embrace offshore engineering

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