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52 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2021 I recently attended a risk analysis meeting that focused on the question, "What can go wrong in a system design?" ey slowly worked their way around to me. As the senior PCB engineer, my first thought was, "is is a loaded question." My answer, though, was short and sweet: "Any- thing and everything." at is so true, though; I have seen some crazy things during my 40-year career. One of the weird- est things I saw in a PCB design many years ago was that underneath the PCB solder mask there looked to be a mosquito—like a fossil of some prehis- toric creature right there in the middle of my board. I couldn't believe it. I was expecting the board fabricator to come back and say, "You should have included a note on the fabrication drawing saying, 'Please make sure no mosqui- tos are implanted under the solder mask.'" Not much was accomplished in that meet- ing because, you see, the starting point was all wrong. To begin a conversation based on the "what ifs" of what could go wrong is both an impossible question to answer and an exercise in futility. It is unquestionably the incorrect way to handle risk man- agement, especially in the PCB design process. PCB Design is a High-Risk Process PCB design is like bun- gee jumping. With the com- plexity of a PCB design, the intricate details, and vari- ous steps, it's rather easy to make mistakes. ose mis- takes, many times, do not show up until it's too late and the board has gone off to fabrication and assem- bly. By the way, a good rule is to not use your assembly house as your quality control team for PCB designs. Furthermore, you are not in control of the complete process since it involves third-party vendors outside your company. Managing the risk that is not under your control is even more difficult. Before taking a deep dive into the risk management area, we need to understand that the PCB design is a by-product of your process and design data. If either one of those is incor- rect, your PCB will be built wrong. Managing this risk is vital if you intend to keep your job as a PCB designer. So, what is the correct process to identify the risk and put in place the required solutions before they get Managing Risk in PCB Design Elementary, Mr. Watson by John Watson, ALTIUM

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