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70 The PCB Magazine • October 2015 As with many manufacturing theatres there is a stream of additive processes that combine to create the finished product. The manufacture of printed circuits is no different. From the con- ception of the design and issuance of the pro- curement document, dozens of processes must take place before the PCB is shipped for assem- bly. Each of these processes takes time and the additive result of all these steps results in the manufacturing cycle, or lead time. Almost al- ways, the customer just wants to know the lead time, or "When do I get my boards?" However, in the manufacturing process steps leading to the final shipped product, there are individual cycle times within each process. From imaging all the way through final pack- aging, each process is allotted a predetermined amount of time to complete a given piece or full production order. In a perfect world, all individual process steps or cycle times will be completed early or on-time with the result be- ing on-time delivery (OTD). But, let's face it, many times Murphy makes an appearance and cycle times may increase. If this happens early in the manufacturing cycle, then the predetermined, gauged cycle time for subsequent processes is out the window. The time for those processes is now compressed or disregarded entirely and the order becomes ASAP. Did the time it took to effectively process that part miraculously compress as well? No, it did not. Now this order is competing with other orders in the same process step that were origi- nally on-time, causing them to delay and WIP (work in process) to climb, thus resulting in the dreaded bottleneck! This is a term that sends chills through production managers and sales forces alike. With that said, how do we combat this sce- nario? We streamline the process step by fine- tuning the attributes within that process. The re- sult is reduced or optimized cycle time. This can result in the process step having "sprint capac- ity" to combat Mr. Murphy when he decides to make a visit. (However, in reality, once produc- tion planning finds out the process has reduced its cycle time…well you know what happens.) Since I'm focused on quality assurance and electrical testing (ET), we will look at this sce- nario in the electrical test theatre. by Todd Kolmodin garDiEn SErVicES uSa testiNg todd Breaking the Bottleneck: Electrical Test Cycle Time Reduction FeATure ColuMn

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