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FEBRUARY 2023 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 69 How long did it all take? iel: e planning and execution of our automation projects have been ongoing over the past 10 years. What have been the results? Fewer people? Faster and more efficient operations/processes? iel: e results have been remark- able. Over the past 10 years we have doubled our revenue, while our workforce has decreased by about 15%, mainly due to attrition. We have consistently maintained high yields while increasing the complex- ity of the product and have achieved an average 99.4% OTD since 2012. I would consider that a very successful initiative, wouldn't you? iel: Absolutely. I'm confident that we would not have been able to achieve all that we did without automation. e benefits are numer- ous, including improved product and process consistency, easier troubleshooting, reduced material costs from less rework, in addition to labor and other efficiencies. Do you have any closing thoughts? iel: I'm a firm believer in purposeful auto- mation. While it would be wonderful to com- pletely automate every process, most compa- nies like us simply don't have the resources available to do so. We need to focus on the areas that will provide the most benefits from auto- mation and/or may not need as much technical expertise or financial resources to automate. In addition, we can't ignore other areas of auto- mation that don't necessarily involve equip- ment, such as business process automation— but we'll save that for another day. Brandman: I absolutely believe automation in the PCB industry is the way of the future. If North America and Europe want to be able to compete with Asia, we need to leverage the Smart factory concept by exploiting automa- tion on all levels. It's not necessarily about reduced manpower; the idea is to create signif- icant growth through technology, which in the end will create more jobs. This has been tremendously interesting, not just for me but, I am sure, for the people in our industry with whom you are sharing your story. Thanks for talking with me, and thanks for showing us the way when it comes to automation as the future of the PCB industry. iel: My pleasure, Dan. anks for reaching out. Brandman: Yes, thanks for helping us tell our story, Dan. PCB007 Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group and an I-Connect007 columnist. To read past columns, click here. Solder mask imaging with a Nuvogo 600 LDI Orbotech system.

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