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14 The PCB Design Magazine • May 2014 ferent products, markets, brands and locations, there is a lot of common ground when it comes to taking an electronics-based product from conception, through design, manufacturing, and to the market to become profitable, no mat- ter who, where or what it is. The Lean NPI flow is a modern best-practice efficient approach that spans PCB design all the way to manufacturing, reducing the time to market, and eliminating data reconstruction at manufacturing, as well as reducing design re- spins and revisions. New design software man- ages the setting of rules that model manufactur- ing process capabilities and configurations in a way that creates simple rules for the layout pro- cess. This allows a designer to avoid manufac- turing issues early on, even without any manu- facturing process knowledge. New PCB fabrication tools can be used to immediately set up the necessary fabrication processes. Assembly tools allow the manufactur- ing processes to be set up directly, without the need for data reconstruction, and without the need to manage different formats and libraries of data across machines of different types and from different vendors. The Lean NPI flow is not an ideal that serves only the elite few. It comprises key principles and tools for a common best practice that allows companies to create their products in whatever way they choose and take them to market in whatever way they choose, while eliminating mistakes, waste, and errors so that the end goal is reached much faster, more reliably, with sig- nificantly reduced cost and improved quality. The Lean NPI flow can be applied in virtu- ally any circumstance. As an illustration, let's take a look at two diverse theoretical compa- nies that are in the process of bringing a critical product to market. They each use the Lean NPI flow and tools effectively, bringing differentia- tion and success to their product launch. The wide gamut of companies in the market fall in between and around these sample cases, and feature THE LEAN NPI FLOW continues Figure 1: lean nPi flow as seen in the Xpedition PCB layout tool.

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