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56 The PCB Design Magazine • April 2016 By using a PCB design firm, you will increase your company's flexibility during periods of growth and reduce involuntary employee turn- over. By developing a solid partnership with a qualified PCB design firm, you ensure access to ready and reliable PCB design resources when you need them. Transitions: Change is constant. Some companies move from one design software tool to another, at times driven by PCB design staff/engineering leadership changes. Compa- nies also merge. In these cases, previous PCB designs need to be transitioned to a new com- mon PCB design software tool. Different itera- tions of PCB design software tools and library data/structures can also exist within a com- pany; in many cases the format and control is questionable. A qualified PCB design firm can help you to close these gaps and will en- able your PCB design system to create better products, faster. PCB Design Capability Design Software: Some companies fail to realize that PCB design has a huge impact on overall performance, reliability, and cost of finished product. Some PCB designers use low-cost PCB design software tools or older versions of PCB design tools (both have lim- ited capabilities) that will create costly con- straints further in the design and manufactur- ing process. The best practice is to engage with a quali- fied PCB design firm that fully uses the lat- est PCB design software tools and has formed strong relationships with their design software providers. This will benefit all involved, most importantly, your customers. Collaboration: Improve your in-house capabilities through collaboration. A quali- fied PCB design firm will help companies im- prove their PCB design capabilities by work- ing collaboratively with your in-house design- ers. This is a great resource to have in order to explore and implement best practices or to bounce ideas around. The end result is better PCB design. Technology Expansion: Is your compa- ny specialized in one segment of the industry? Are you looking for the best PCB design prac- tices for a specific industry? Are you expanding into a new technology area? A qualified PCB design firm can help. Work with a PCB design firm that has the depth of experience in many industry segments and technologies for best results. Library Improvement: Companies can always improve their PCB design libraries. Li- braries are the foundational building blocks of any great PCB design. Libraries often are not kept in order or have rogue elements included in them. This often results in challenges in final PCB design quality and translates into manu- facturability and reliability issues (and costs) downstream. Look to a solid PCB design firm for best practices and assistance in improving your libraries. DFM/DFA/DFX: Improve your PCB de- signs for manufacturability, assembly, test, and overall design excellence. Some companies place this responsibility with downstream enti- ties such as bare PCB manufacturers and assem- bly shops. Critical design rules and validation/ verification elements must be incorporated early in the process and include information integral to the design, manufacturing, and test- ing processes. Look for a PCB design firm that has great relationships (and active communica- tion) with component manufacturers, bare PCB manufacturers, assembly companies, and test- ing firms. You will experience improved time- to-market and less overall cost. Finally, remember that there are caveats to consider when using an outsourced PCB design firm. For your product development process to be a success, the firm must have a great reputa- tion, be trusted, and be strongly aligned with your company. Keep these tips in mind when sending out your next PCB design. PCBDESIGN Mark Tinkler is in business devel- opment and sales with Vision Cir- cuits in Markham, Ontario. outsourcing pcB Design: hoW it can heLp

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