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MARCH 2023 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 29 before the raw data is ready to be sent to them to execute. We're able to dial in a lot of those fabrication design rules up front. at's something our engineer- ing teams do really well; they're great at implementing that up front into their tools so that it's not something that con- stantly needs to be corrected. I'm imagining the design team as a classic cross functional team, where you've got the engineers, a design lead, the CAM department, and fab and assembly production representatives. They meet to talk about key design decisions as those designs are being made. Folks can raise their hand and say, "That will be a manufacturing issue for us if we continue with that particular approach." Is that what goes on? Hendrickson: Yes, in our printed circuit board design process, we start with a kickoff meet- ing. We call it "initial point release," and that's where we gather all the input for the design: the schematics, mechanical requirements, and all our people—the electrical engineers, the PCB designer, mechanical designers, test engi- neers in assembly, process engineers, and man- ufacturing engineers—are involved in these meetings so they can understand the data and get feedback up front. en we go through a development cycle, followed by a placement review where everyone gets back together and looks at how the progress is going, mak- ing sure everything's looking good. en when everything's wrapped up, there's a final point release as well, where they do that final review to make sure that all those items have been addressed and that everybody's confident that the product will go through the factory with no issues. Obviously, SEL sees having a captive facility as good business, especially given the current geopolitical situation and supply chain issues. Do you believe that captive facilities are a wiser choice in Europe and North America today than in the past? Harrill: Yes, absolutely, and here's why. e more we can reshore, the more we can bring back home—at least to North America with any type of critical manufacturing—it means more resiliency and security. We'll reap ben- efits throughout our entire system, for critical infrastructure in the United States, and in part- ner countries. Hendrickson: SEL has been focused on this for the 20-plus years that I've been here, and we've been buying our circuit boards in North Amer- ica that entire time. We have not gone to other places. We've stayed domestic because we've had this philosophy all along. Our president and CTO, Dr. Schweitzer, and our CEO Dave Whitehead, believe that circuit boards are not a commodity; they are a critical component to our products and very important to the success of SEL. Harrill: at's a great point, John. Unless it's infeasible, we always source products from the United States and then North America. I think it's incumbent upon companies to commit to making that choice, now and in the future. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. SMT007 All photos courtesy Schweitzer Electronic Laboratories.

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