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46 PCB007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2023 Feature Interview By Nolan Johnson I-CONNECT007 We spoke with Tim Rodgers, PhD, a senior faculty instructor at the University of Colorado, Boul- der, and an expert in supply chain, about a wide range of topics. In this excerpt, I asked Tim how to deter- mine whether a company in your supply chain follows TQM practices. His well- informed reply leverages his years of experience in the electronics manufacturing industry. Tim, how can someone tell that they're working with a TQM company? Everybody is allegedly working on quality but it's hard to demonstrate that quality commit- ment. Virtually everybody is ISO 9000 certi- fied, so I ask them to tell me about their qual- ity management system. What are they doing to eliminate defects or to prevent them from occurring, not just testing? Don't show me test results or talk about production yields; show me how you prevent defects from occurring in the first place. What investments have you made? What training have you done? is goes beyond ISO 9000. We used to say that ISO 9000 is doing what you document and documenting what you do. By itself, that does not guarantee quality. I want to hear more about your quality program and your commitment to quality. What did you do the last time you had a quality problem? What actions did you take? Did you shut down the production line? Did you just continue pro- ducing bad boards and sort them with a test at the end of the production line? Is it possible to tell from the outside? How do I know I'm working with a TQM company even before the audit? I ask them to tell me a story about a quality problem they had recently. How did they respond? Tell me a story about using input from pro- duction staff. Tell me about using client input to improve quality and give me some specific examples. What data is being collected? Is that data based only on test results? at's nice, but it's not sufficient. You need to be measuring your processes. Does the facility have process control? What are the parameters being tracked? I'll ask about specific areas, lamination processes, or the drilling process. How about imaging pro- cesses? What are the characteristics they're looking at? What's been done to reduce vari- ability in those processes? Behavioral interviewing for your vendor? When I was working with a major Asian PCB fabricator, we used the PCQRR panels for four years to develop our HDI and other fine- line processes. We even built our own testing machine for it. at kind of attention to quality processes is impressive; it should be impres- sive to a client. It shows commitment and a willingness to use internal resources to track and improve quality, and to reduce variability not just within a single lot, but lot-to-lot vari- ability as well. This has been great. Thanks for the insight. PCB007 How You Know You're Working With a TQM Company Tim Rodgers

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