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PCB Manufacturing, Assembly & Test Blog

19 Feb, 2015

See You At APEX 2015!

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford There are worse places in the world to be than San Diego, especially in February, and especially it seems in 2015. The weather looks like being nice over the duration of the APEX show, though of course most of the day will be spent inside….. APEX this year promises to be as great as ever, a full show-floor, and some interesting technical and this time, business presentations. The Mentor Graphics Valor team … Read More

30 Jan, 2015

Michael Ford Hollywood has a great way of showing us the future. How many movies have there been where some hapless security person get their thumb, finger, or even hand cut off in order that the bad guys gain access to some top secret facility. Is this now going to start to happen? Now that mobile handsets are starting to incorporate the use of a thumb-print scanner in place of the password or pin, especially as … Read More

13 Jan, 2015

Michael Ford It is the familiar plot-line for many a TV sit-com, but does the same “party outfit” logic apply to people who buy manufacturing software? Buying “off the shelf” software is fine in most areas of the industry. Who would ask Microsoft for a customised Power-Point application, or perhaps would look to buy a customised Grand Theft Auto? When it comes to manufacturing however, everyone seems … Read More

20 Nov, 2014

How Big Is Yours?

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford “Big Data” is one in a series of buzzwords that has come along recently. Bigger is better in many respects, but how does it work when it comes to shop-floor data? Consider the millions of dollars spent on the analysis of data in the manufacturing world related to sales, marketing, finance and the business performance of products. Is there a potentially comparable value when it comes to data gathered … Read More

21 Oct, 2014

Group Science

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford It is a human trait that it seems we all possess. We think that to be a part of a group makes us stronger. There is however more to it than that. There are many types and indeed tiers of grouping, which start to affect us as soon as we’re born. Am I male or female? The family group to which I belong. The family house, a part of a local community, a village, a town, a region and a country, an ethnic … Read More

16 Oct, 2014

Michael Ford While meeting with a customer recently, a PCB layout design engineer engaged in PCB routing using the very latest of Mentor’s Xpedition PCB routing software commented that he had never seen before how automated routing tools could create what he “saw” in his head. Perhaps this is a testament to how the Mentor PCB layout auto-router logic is getting to a level of cleverness approaching a human brain, … Read More

22 Sep, 2014

Manufacturing Cost Simulation

Posted by Jay Gorajia

Jay Gorajia Have you underestimated the costs of manufacturing a product?   Cost overruns killing your planned margins? Don’t really know if design decisions have any effect on final manufacturing costs?  Under pressure to reduce your costs, but don’t understand where the costs are coming from? Some say understanding the “cost of manufacturing” is an elusive number.  However, with a well-designed systematized Factory … Read More

1 Sep, 2014

Michael Ford As humans, it is said that we consume between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day of energy, 1,300 of which are used just to keep the body alive, including about 300 calories for the brain. The numbers vary from difference sources and of course are averages. Calorie consumption for the brain is said to range from 0.1 of a calorie per minute, up to around 1.5, probably the difference between watching the … Read More

18 Aug, 2014

Simple Competition Is Simply Not

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford In an effort to drive down prices, or perhaps some would say, in an effort to avoid having to manage the industry, here in the UK, the government have opened up the domestic electricity market to promote competition between providers. What a surprise! It is not going well. It has been shown that many people are happy to stick with their current provider, due to their perception of the difficulty to … Read More

31 Jul, 2014

Don’t Talk About Industry 4.0

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford With some 20 years of software development specifically for the improvement of PCB electronics manufacturing, I have seen a few things come and go. It was in those very early days, before the IBM PC, before LANs, and of course before email and the internet, the I set out with my initial team to resolve manufacturing issues with computers. We made our own crude LAN systems. We saved data on to cassette … Read More

11 Jul, 2014

Exploding LEDs

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford LEDs came on to the scene just as I was in high school. Having had several feeble little torches on my bike as a kid, with many failed experiments to make the “feeble little wicks” a bit brighter, I saw LEDs as a wonderful technology. Throughout the years that have followed, we have brighter LEDs, and different colours – I was in Japan as the first wave of individual blue LEDs went on sale, some of … Read More

1 Jul, 2014

Mark Laing Hi there We recently released a new version of the Valor Production Planning application that has enhancements to support both LED Binning and Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. LED Binning is widely used in the automotive market place but will also be applicable to any industry where LEDs are used for displays that require consistent lighting levels. The issue here is that LEDs that have the same … Read More

30 May, 2014

Jay Gorajia

Are mobile Apps becoming more prevalent in the Electronics Manufacturing landscape? I recently came across a survey at Manufacturing Business Technology magazine by Canvas: The article states “…The survey points to an increasingly mobile manufacturing

Read More


21 May, 2014

Industry 4.0 Coming To The US?

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford

I am asked this question frequently. Though Industry 4.0 originates in Germany, I sometimes wonder whether it has actually even come to the German electronics manufacturers yet. This is the problem when something radically different comes to a somewhat conservative industry. The resistance to change for established companies is very high, where past experience of so-called improvements has actually

Read More

16 May, 2014

The Business Of Supply Chain Issues

Posted by Michael Ford

Michael Ford

At APEX this year, I was talking about material inventory integrity across the factory shop-floor and warehouse infrastructure, and the huge effect that it can have on the bottom line of any manufacturing business. You can see this on YouTube: The ERP system is one of the largest investments made in electronics manufacturing. It is responsible

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Material Turns, Inventory Accuracy


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