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56 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I AUGUST 2020 Kolar: Absolutely. Warren: It's really hard to teach that to them, too. As Jen said, when you get to the end of the design, it's usually late because of changes, and this spin is behind somebody's schedule. Whether it's the latest schedule or someone higher up had different expectations, and peo- ple want to rush it out the door because it's connected. Get it out. A lot of people don't take the time to process things properly. I also get feedback from our project manag- ers. If any given project doesn't go smoothly, I usually have one of them contacting me and saying, "Why did this not work the way it was supposed to?" I'll say, "Did we do a design review?" or, "Were processes followed?" And if they weren't, I try to figure out why and I try not to put anyone on the spot. A lot of times, I'll use a blanket, "Remember to do this and tell the whole group," because nobody likes to be on the spot. Matties: We always say attack the process, not the people, because it's the process that fails. Kolar: Yes. We build a lot of designs that we didn't design. We get designs from our PM side, and we're constantly getting Gerbers thrown over the wall and projects thrown over the wall where the customer has no access to the original designer. They don't know any information other than what they provided, and maybe they have some access, but it's really common to have things thrown over the wall that we have to figure out. From the PM side, we have a lot of experience in dealing with incomplete or imperfect data and trying to turn that into something reasonable to give our fab vendors. Matties: And you extend the impact of time on the process. Kolar: Right. We'll end up doing pre-DFM for some customers, or they'll say, "We're doing the design, but can you just go through and tell us what the obvious non-buildable issues are? Can you tell us what's wrong?" That's something we offer. Depending on the size of the project and how frequent the customers, either we just do it, or we might charge them for a few hours. Matties: I would think that external designers would come to a service like yours and request the same sort of review, especially for the more difficult or challenging job. Kolar: They do. The trick to that for us as a business is this: How deep do you want the review? "We need a review right now. We want to go to fab in two hours, can you do it right now?" or "We're doing a cursory review." We look for obvious red flags. That's typically what we end up doing because peo- ple don't want to pay or take the extra time. By then, it's already past you and down the channel. Johnson: Early on, you said that the fabricators you work with give you some price breaks. On your side of the conversation, it's monetized, and you can put some dollar value to it. What kind of dollar value are we talking about? Kolar: It can be a 5–10% difference on a fab, and that's not insignificant, especially when you're dealing with smaller margins or expen- sive builds. Because of our volumes, we can also get priority queuing and support with our regular shops. Johnson: It seems to me that a fabricator could put together some pricing that encourages cus- tomers to move things through faster. Whether it's the latest schedule or someone higher up had different expectations, and people want to rush it out the door because it's connected.

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