Design007 Magazine


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 55 of 65

56 The PCB Design Magazine • January 2017 by Lance Olive BETTER BOARDS INC. Quality PCB design is an evolving breed of services in first world countries. As North American and European companies squeeze the skilled designers out of their own workforce, pushing more of the work into Eastern Europe and Asia, those who remain with the skills ei- ther opt for retirement, career change or consolidation. As the business operations manager for Better Boards Inc., I see our company at the focal point for consolidation: a gathering of skilled board designers to create a center of excellence. It is at this point that we have the critical problem facing a PCB design services com- pany: How do we effectively sell these services back to the com- panies that cast off their own skilled em- ployees? How do we sell PCB design services into small companies that can barely afford the one over- worked electrical engineer that they hired last year? In addressing these key questions, we evalu- ate the three key challenges and embrace the three tantalizing opportunities. Doing this well gets our foot in the door and positions us to sell these services in the hardware design teams that would prefer to be designing circuits rather than layouts. The Challenges The first challenge is the price competition from both overseas labor and the designer work- ing from home. PCB design layout service rates in Europe and North America remain relative- ly high for companies who know the value of the skill that designers bring. Meanwhile, small companies in the Czech Republic, Poland, In- dia, Russia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and China can offer layout services for about half of those domesti- cally. Likewise, the designer in his bonus room has very low overhead (sometimes quite literally, thanks to knee walls), and can often undercut the hourly rates of a proper services com- pany. The sec- ond chal- lenge is that of being mul- tilingual in CAD tools. Be- tween the cus- tomers demand- ing that we use Cadence Allegro, Al- tium, Mentor Graphics Xpedition, Eagle, KiCAD or many other cheap and free tools, it's enough to drive a design- er mad. No person can reasonably support all of those. To support multiple customers means to support multiple tools. This is difficult to achieve with just one or two designers, since most professional designers are great at one tool, fair with another, and merely aware of the rest. Being successful means establishing a team of designers with varying skillsets—a matrix of ARTICLE Selling PCB Design Services in a First-World Country

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Design007 Magazine - PCBD-Jan2017