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22 The PCB Design Magazine • April 2016 by Andy Shaughnessy Andy and Sue Critcher have been the lead designers at Total Board Solutions Limited, an UK-based design bureau, since its founding in 1998. I asked Andy to share his opinion about the friction between some PCB designers and their engineers, and what can be done to im- prove communications between these groups. Andy Shaughnessy: Andy, tell us a little bit about your company and how you operate. Andy Critcher: Total Board Solutions Limited (TBS) is a design services bureau based in the UK. We fit into our customer's design process, pro- viding whatever is not a core competency. This means that for some customers we perform just the layout portion of their design while for oth- ers we enter the schematic, libraries, create the layout and even get the boards fabricated and assembled—no two customers are exactly the same. When working with startups we provide the link between the concept, or idea, and prod- uct realization; providing knowledge of design process, fabricators capabilities and our experi- ence when discussing the inevitable tradeoffs between the requirement and what is possible. Shaughnessy: A recent survey of our PCB designer readers found that there's often friction between PCB designers and engineers. Some designers say, only half-jokingly, that their EEs are their biggest challenge. Why do you think there's such discon- nect? Critcher: Looking solely from the PCB side, I think that the disconnect mainly arises from the lack of understanding of what a PCB design- er actually does, it is perceived as a simple task of dot joining and that anyone can do it. I know that this is a bit of a cliché but it does seem to hold true. As an example, in a number of the companies that I have worked with, PCB prog- ress meetings are held and the PCB designer is never asked to attend; their input can be easily be determined by the engineering team/project manager. Designers and Design Engineers: Two Sides of the Same Coin feature intervieW Andy Critcher, TBS

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