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38 The PCB Design Magazine • November 2015 ing workarounds and storing files locally which breaks down the effectiveness of the system. Customers also stress that the experience for the end user needs to be seamless. In the past our customers have tried to use ad hoc process- es or connect with external systems to manage their PCB data. While this is better than noth- ing, it requires extra manual effort from the en- gineering team to go outside their CAD environ- ment to push and pull data. Without any checks or processes within the native CAD tool, design teams will often use the data management sys- tem haphazardly or forget for a couple revisions then push an update. This is especially prevalent when deadlines are tight or something needs to be done quickly. The extra effort and steps to manage the data are ignored in favor of speed which can have serious consequences later on if data is lost or accidentally overwritten. PCB de - sign teams really need data management to be a natural part of the design process. Shaughnessy: What kinds of pcB data are the toughest to manage? Marcano: One aspect that makes PCB data tough to manage is the fact that a lot of the design files themselves are in a proprietary or binary format, which makes change manage- ment difficult if you don't have a way to read those files. PCB design is also very iterative in nature, which creates large volumes of data dur- ing the design phase that needs to be revision controlled. All this data is typically broken up into lots of different files that are all derived from or related to each other in some way. Files like the netlist, models, Gerbers, and simulation results all need to be tracked with the core PCB files from which they were generated. Without having an understanding of the file associations inherent to the PCB design process, things can quickly become out of sync. For example, you can be doing a great job of posting your PCB files to the shared drive or repository when you have finished editing them, but if you are not also tracking the file outputs along with those revisions there is a serious chance you may inadvertently send an old version of the BOM or the wrong Gerber file. So even though your core design files were managed correctly, the outputs from those files that drive manufacturing and purchasing could be incorrect, leading to re-spins, a bad board, and late nights trying to figure out what went wrong. More importantly, this results in higher cost and lost market opportunities. Shaughnessy: Where are the biggest challenges you face in meeting customers' data needs? Marcano: One of the tricky items is that PCB design projects involve many sets of related and derived files like the netlist, BOM, and Gerber which are related to the core design files them- selves and are often in a binary format. Keeping track of the related PCB data is just as impor- tant if not more important than the design files themselves as these derived files are what drive the manufacturing and procurement process. Without an in-depth understanding of how these various file types are inter-related it is easy to lose control of your PCB design data. EMA: HELPING TECHNOLOGISTS MANAGE DISPARATE DATA Manny Marcano, president and CEo of EMA Design Automation. feature interview

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