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MAY 2022 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 9 ophy? is was on my mind as I recalled that course. At the time I started the course, I thought sociology was more akin to philosophy. But as the professor's lectures set up the methods and objectives of social science, I learned to accept the value of the so sciences; the process of going through that course tore down my inad- vertent elitism about science in general. I went in with assumptions that I treated as beliefs and came out better able to recognize when I was using an assumption as a truth. I don't remem- ber much about the material in the lectures, but the process of surveying the social sciences did change my critical thinking. Maybe that was why my advisor pointed me in that direc- tion. My perspective had been changed and I looked at other questions in front of me in a different way. As a result, I added some other so sci- ence, specifically psychology courses. One of those, "Behavioral Psychology," was com- monly known on campus as "Rat Lab." If any of you have heard Happy Holden speak about his career, he oen includes the story of designing interface cards for a PDP 8 computer while a student at Oregon State. ese interface cards were to enable the PDP to operate a series of "Skinner boxes" for the Rat Lab, and were still in use when I took the course 20+ years later. Aer a handful of introductory lectures, we were assigned a lab rat, which was to be kept slightly dehydrated, creating motivation to learn. Each day, we had to care for our rat, and teach it to push a lever in the Skinner box to deliver a small amount of water. e behaviors that the rat had to learn became increasingly complex and involved. But the basic tenets of positive and negative reinforcement were made quite clear during the course. When con- fronted with challenges, we find a way to make things work. So, as we sought answers to our current ques- tions about high mix, low volume, we asked how many of these topics are making life dif- ficult for EMS firms, and how they are coping with all these challenges. What we learned was that the high-density challenges were actually few and far between. Like my sociology class, we went in with one set of expectations and came out with a different understanding than we anticipated. And like my psychology class, we found ourselves documenting the pressures that are motivating new thinking and potential new methods on the shop floor. Specifically, as the requirements for assem- bly continue to move toward smaller compo- nents and higher densities, the most common challenges are with supply chain, inventory management, and part feeder technologies. Most of the issues we thought we'd be talk- ing about weren't the pain points we thought they would be. At least, not right at this very moment. So, what did we learn? In this issue, you'll find a two interviews with Axiom, one exploring high-density issues, and the other the data format effect on business costs." You'll see how some of Axiom's concerns likely line up with your own. Duane Benson of Screaming Circuits shares the challenges of quoting because of the instability of the supply chain, and I-Connect007 columnist Emmalee Gagnon helps us understand the unique ability of your machines to optimize throughput in a high-mix, low-volume environment. Like the rats I mentioned in my psychology class, building high-density boards in today's post-pandemic world makes us "thirsty" for stability and accuracy. See the obstacle as the way and use this issue to recognize and over- come your own challenges. What will be your takeaways from what you read here? I'd love to hear from you. SMT007 Nolan Johnson is managing editor of SMT007 Magazine. Nolan brings 30 years of career experience focused almost entirely on electronics design and manufacturing. To contact Johnson, click here.

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