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46 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2021 first time. e mechanical engineer can vali- date the 3D PCB when the design is completed with all the parts (including 3D bodies on all the components) to have the final, accurate model to include in their assembly. Outside Contributors/Consultants I recently had the opportunity to coordi- nate the design work of several consultants and bring their finished designs into my com- pany's repository. ey were able to do their work in our version-controlled cloud reposi- tory, which gave us all the benefits mentioned early (visibility, MCAD validation, and parts availability monitoring). e version control is implemented so well that it is almost invisible. We added the company templates and part numbers so that when the design was done, there was no final cleanup or documentation work needed. is version-controlled ongoing access made it easy for the consultants to do their work and the inside team got visibility into the emerg- ing design—to get started on specifying cables, checking the mechanical fit, and managing the components (more on that later). When com- plete, the design was already housed in our organization's home environment, ready for any future updates either by the original con- sultant or the internal team. Supply Chain Engineers oen check component inventory at one or more distributors. Some have been known to base their design on the stock of a single distributor. I know I certainly used to do so. While this was always a little risky, pan- demic-induced supply chain shortages have made it crucial to "see" the larger picture of parts availability. Altium's Octopart has offered this capability for a while. In the past, I made it a standard practice to screen all BOMs for component availability, as well as NRND/obsolescence status or weird cost increases that can hint at high demand or EOL (end-of-life) issues. All PCB design- ers should make a habit of doing this for every design, regardless of their EDA tools. BOM tools such as LiveBOM have proven especially important during this unprece- dented time, giving us quick and regular stock status at a large number of distributors in one comprehensive view from within the design. All the red, green, and blue LEDs in one design went out of stock at all the top distribu- tors overnight. But I knew about this in time; I specified substitutes before the design le for manufacture, and I avoided that dreaded phone call. LEDs are a trivial example, easily substi- tuted or respecified, but in the case of key ICs (especially microcontrollers) it has become more essential than ever to see the availability and possibly pre-buy BOM parts early in the design phase to avoid costly redesign or delay. e EMS provider I work with has agreed to pre-kit parts to assure stock when the design is ready for manufacture. Searching for parts by spec and availability directly in the ECAD tool really speeds parts selection and library Rich Tighe

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