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82 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2020 Hey, how about this global pandemic? Wild stuff. I am going to attempt to find a silver lin- ing among the many dark clouds, and I am will- fully overlooking the health issues and focusing on electronics with this month's installment. This makes sense, as I am not a medical doc- tor, but I have diagnosed more than a few ail- ing electronic assembly processes. A few months ago, we started seeing delays in shipments from many of our offshore partners as they had to do the right thing and close their facilities for the greater good. We knew at that time that it would set off a chain reaction of availability issues for everything from silicon wafers and bare PCBs all the way to final pro- duction assem- bly for the end- user. This has forced many companies to take a hard look at how and where their parts and assemblies are sourced and see what other options are available going forward to help deter this same situation from happening again if another round of global closures took place. Many companies willfully placed all their eggs in a single basket while wearing rose-colored glasses and, to this point, it probably worked out fairly well. Today, we are hearing many of those same companies are looking to expand their supplier base, and with that, the possi- bility to rethink how they approve suppliers is born. Thanks, COVID-19? Let's start where most things start—from the beginning. When I say "from the beginning," I mean from the suppliers of all the materi- als you use to build your assemblies. This list should include your PCB fab shops, compo- nent suppliers, solder paste and flux, adhesives and coatings, connectors, housings, and the list goes on. As I have mentioned about two million times, every- thing you use in the assembly process brings with it an inher- ent risk of contamination that can affect your prod- uct's reliability. When working in the Class II and Class III worlds, we all know that reli- ability is as impor- tant as it gets, so it's paramount to take this oppor- tunity to be sure you are getting what you need regard- ing cleanliness. The first thing I recommend is look- ing at your current requirements and then determining whether they are still applicable to what you are building today. Many times, those requirements were based on a product that has gone through a series of minor revisions over the years. When looked at individually, these Reliability Reboot Quest for Reliability Feature Column by Eric Camden, FORESITE INC.

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