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50 The PCB Magazine • November 2014 by Steve Williams steve williams ConsultinG llC Best Practices 101: Part 4 C o l u m n PoiNt of view Looking back through the annals of the U.S. PCB industry, when it comes to quality, we have evolved from a reactive, to a proactive mindset. This evolution has led to what is loosely called the zero-defects methodology (ZDM). The old gold standard of three sigma is no longer ac- ceptable and has gone the way of the dinosaur. Pipe Dream? Are zero defects an achievable, sustainable goal 100% of the time? Of course not, but with six sigma levels we can come pretty close. Rec- ognizing that we will occasionally fall short of any goal mandates that the goal be set at zero defects. The reasons why a zero defect mentality is required can be condensed down to the sin- gular, bottom line principle of reducing costs, and as we all know, it's always about the dollars. Costs are always attached to defective product in the form of inspection/test, rework/repair, scrap, and warranty (customer returns). Reduc- ing these costs results in increased customer satisfaction, and quite simply, happy customers mean higher revenue. It is always an interesting study to compare the advertised capability of a company to its ac- tual capability. The sales force touts world-class quality, which implies that they are operating at a six sigma level. However, an objective on-site assessment of their processes quickly separates the bluster from the facts, typically revealing that most organizations are operating at a true

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