Standard of Excellence: Your PCB Technology Partner

Anaya_Vardya.jpgThere are regular PCB vendor relationships, and then there are the partnerships where you invest in future projects, such as developing processes for a new technology where you will have to share the work, responsibility, and success of the project. In short, project partnerships require a much deeper and more trusting relationship with your vendor. Not all of your PCB vendor relationships are going to be strong enough to be a good partner for the future. Remember that a partner is someone that you work with to do things bigger than either of you could do alone, the “one plus one equals three” theory. Here are 13 tips for creating a productive partnership with your PCB vendor when it comes to developing technology.

1. Choose the Right Partner

Obviously, the more you work with your PCB vendor, the better you will know and trust them. You have come to rely on your partner.

2. Have a Shared Vision and Mission

To develop a great relationship, you are going to have to develop a vision and mission because you will be doing more than just one project. Decide what you can expect to accomplish together on these special projects.

3. Describe Your Expectations

You and your vendor should lay your proverbial cards on the table. What do you expect from each other and from the partnership?

4. Create a Manifesto

You might think this is going a bit overboard, but maybe it’s not. In some cases, it is good to write a partnership manifesto; the very act of writing it is valuable.

5. Set Combined Goals

Like any other project, goals have to be set. Make sure you work on the goals together so that you are both headed in the same direction.

6. Communication Is Key

You always need to talk to each other, especially when you are working on projects and building things that no one has ever done before.

7. Understand One Another’s Strengths

Make sure that you understand what each of you can do well, and what is challenging for each of you. It’s good if you have different skill sets that complement one another. You have to be each other’s experts.

8. Support One Another

Your partnership will only be as strong as the trust you have for one another. If there is no trust, there is not a true partnership. Why would you want to be partners with someone you don’t trust enough to support? Hurting either party hurts the partnership.

9. Be Flexible

You are not always going to agree completely, so you have to make allowances for each other’s shortcomings. There will also be times when you don’t completely agree; if you value the partnership, you will both try to be flexible.

10. Be Open When Surprises Occur

This is a critical but often overlooked aspect of a partnership. You have to use “The Godfather” rule, who wants to hear bad news immediately. Keep that in mind when something bad happens; hiding it from your partner will only allow it to fester and create a feeling of distrust.

11. Know How to Settle Disputes

Agree in advance how you will settle disputes between you. Have a plan for how you will handle future disagreements, and then follow it when you have a dispute; it will come in very handy when the time comes and save a lot of time and agony.

12. Admit When You Mess Up

A partnership is not a zero-sum contest; you have to be able to trust one another enough to admit when one of you messes up. You have to be comfortable that if you mess up, your partner won’t rip your head off your shoulders. If you aren’t comfortable with that, you have chosen the wrong partner.

13. Pick up the Phone

If you start getting into an email discussion that is getting either too long-worded, emotional, or both, then stop and pick up the phone; call your partner and talk it through. Email exchanges can become nasty very quickly, and even good partners tend to say things that they don’t mean. Be cautious of the emails because they can be bombs that detonate into a full-out war in the blink of an eye.

Conclusion

Once you establish a partnership based on these 13 guidelines, you will be able to start doing great things together. You will be amazed by what two willing, trusting, and able companies can do when they develop a great partnership. Always remember how you can make great technological advances when you don’t care who gets the credit.

Anaya Vardya is president and CEO of American Standard Circuits. Vardya is also co-author of The Printed Circuit Designer’s Guide to… Fundamentals of RF/Microwave PCBs and Flex and Rigid-Flex Fundamentals. Visit I-007eBooks.com to download these and other free, educational titles.

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2019

Standard of Excellence: Your PCB Technology Partner

10-15-2019

There are regular PCB vendor relationships, and then there are the partnerships where you invest in future projects, such as developing processes for a new technology where you will have to share the work, responsibility, and success of the project. In short, project partnerships require a much deeper and more trusting relationship with your vendor.

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Standard of Excellence: Great Partnerships Are Forged in Adversity

09-24-2019

When you’re in the PCB business, the one thing you can count on is that something will go wrong; it always does. Here are six steps to not only help and support your vendor through problematic times but also use the adversity as an opportunity to develop a deeper and more productive relationship.

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Standard of Excellence: How Strong Is Your Vendor Partnership?

08-28-2019

For the past year, I’ve talked about various aspects of developing a great vendor-customer relationship with your PCB fabricators from trust to confidentiality and sharing the future. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when testing the strength of your current partnership with your vendor.

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Standard of Excellence: Finding a Global Solution With Your Domestic Supplier

07-23-2019

As the world goes global, so does the PCB industry. It is no longer sufficient to have a domestic PCB vendor; it has become critical to have a portal to offshore PCB acquisitions as well. But here are six reasons why, in many cases, it is better to go through your own domestic PCB supplier when you want to take advantage of the global PCB vendor base.

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Standard of Excellence: Choosing the Right Replacement Vendor

06-24-2019

What happens when you have all of the suppliers you need, but a larger firm acquires one of them all of a sudden, and there is only one qualified supplier left when there used to be two. As a smart PCB user, you always want to keep your options open in case you are going to have to qualify another supplier to buy your PCBs from.

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Standard of Excellence: Three Ways to Face the Future With Your PCB Suppliers

06-03-2019

Once you have established a solid, trusting relationship with your PCB vendor, you can start working together developing new products, technologies, and in some cases, services. There are even times when your PCB supplier will bring projects to you. Here are three ways that you can work with your PCB suppliers to face the future.

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Standard of Excellence: Four Tips on Listening to Your PCB Suppliers

04-29-2019

Once you have done your due diligence, have developed a strong working partnership with your PCB suppliers, and now feel confident that those suppliers are the right ones, the next step is to recognize that your PCB suppliers are indeed the true experts, and that you can trust them enough to listen to them. Here are four tips on listening to and learning from your suppliers to ensure that you have the best PCB value that money can buy.

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Standard of Excellence: Buy Based on Value, Not Price

04-02-2019

There are only two ways to buy PCBs; the first is based on price, which is the wrong way because it encourages a very shallow relationship based on just one thing—the price of the boards; and the second, and right, is based on value. A great company should understand what it means to buy value.

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Standard of Excellence: Microwave PCB Bonding Methods—What Designers Need to Know

04-01-2019

The primary advantage of using thermoplastic films is their low electrical loss factor. PTFE multilayer boards are well known for their excellent electrical properties, but using a hybrid construction of a high-loss epoxy-based prepreg would defeat the purpose of the PTFE. While a particular bonding film may not exactly match the dielectric constants of the laminate, the effect of any difference is typically negligible, or if not, the board can be designed to allow for the difference. The downside is that thermoplastic film bonding is typically limited to low layer PCBs and not suited for sequential lamination.

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Standard of Excellence: Seven Things Your PCB Vendor Can Teach You

02-19-2019

One of the great things about having a good PCB vendor is that they can teach you and keep you informed about when it comes to their technologies, products, and business. Just as you and your company are experts in your technology, they are experts in theirs.

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2018

Standard of Excellence: Preparing Your Vendors for the Future

12-03-2018

Now, it’s time to talk about the future with your PCB vendors. Referring to our previous columns, if you’ve done everything right so far, you will now have a strong working relationship with your PCB supplier. They understand all they need to know to fabricate perfect boards for you at this time. With trust and respect between you, you’ve truly formed a strong partnership going into the future.

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Standard of Excellence: Forging Partnerships Through Adversity and Problem Solving

10-29-2018

For the past few months, this column has discussed how to find and work with a great PCB vendor, and most importantly, how to form a strong, productive partnership. This month, Anaya Vardya will address how adversity can forge a great partnership between you and your PCB vendor that will last for life.

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Standard of Excellence: Working for the Future—Partnering with PCB Vendors on Innovative Technology

10-01-2018

The true test of the vendor-customer relationship comes when you need innovative PCBs—boards that are not easily found in the common marketplace and are so technologically advanced that they require your designers and suppliers to work together to go where neither has before.

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Standard of Excellence: Preparing for the Future with the Right Supplier

08-13-2018

Is your PCB supplier ready to take you into the future? Sure, they are doing a good job today, but what about tomorrow? What will happen when new designs require boards to be made with thermal or RF materials, or have lines widths down to two mils?

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Material Selection: The Key to RF/Microwave Success

07-23-2018

This month's column is written by Anaya Vardya and John Bushie. In today’s environment, there are a number of suppliers that may have similar materials but price points and lead times may vary. If you are open to trying different options, it is a good idea to work closely with your PCB fabricator so they can educate you on these aspects. Another option is to do parallel builds with multiple materials in the early stages of honing a new design to determine the optimum material set.

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Standard of Excellence: Making Your PCB Fabricator Your PCB Partner

06-12-2018

Are your PCB needs exceeding your vendor base’s capabilities? Do you feel that your suppliers are no longer able to keep up with your PCB needs? Do your designers feel limited by your vendors’ limited capabilities? Are you finding an issue locating alternate sources for PCBs due to the consolidation of the larger shops in our industry? If so, you are not alone.

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Standard of Excellence: 5 Things a Total Global Solutions Supplier Can Provide

01-10-2018

Our world now extends far beyond the traditional brick and mortar of the domestic board suppliers of yesteryear. Now our customers demand that PCB fabricators provide them with a complete and total printed circuit board solution, from domestically built ITAR-registered defense and aerospace boards to high-volume, offshore solutions.

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2017

Standard of Excellence: Customers are Shooting for the Stars—Are We Coming?

08-17-2017

For years we have been calling them “science projects,” those PCB orders that did not quite fit into our normal process stream and therefore needed special attention, as well as special handling. Often, we have had to use trial and error to come up with just the right process to successfully complete the order.

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Standard of Excellence: The Challenges of Hiring Good People and Methods for Success

05-17-2017

Increasingly, we hear about the challenges of finding and hiring good people in our industry. We are being hit on all sides; much of our work force is aging out while young people don’t seem to be too interested in joining the printed circuit board industry. Let’s face facts: Fewer young people are going to college to become circuit board process engineers.

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Standard of Excellence: The Advantages of Flex and Rigid-Flex Circuits

05-01-2017

Since their introduction, flexible and rigid-flex circuits have been steadily moving from the fringe of electronic interconnection towards its center. Today, flex and rigid-flex circuits are found in countless products from the very simple to the highly complex. The reasons for this shift to the center are numerous; most of them are related to the advantages they offer. An examination of some of the benefits and advantages will make this clear.

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Standard of Excellence: Staying Prepared with Operations

03-08-2017

Handling the operations of a PCB company these days is a challenge, to say the least. When I started in 1979, we were building single-sided, double-sided, four-layer multilayers, and the occasional six-layer if you really had your act together. We were using FR-4 materials sprinkled in with an occasional polyimide build.

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2016

Standard of Excellence: Selling Technology—A PCB Engineer Transitions to Sales

12-21-2016

Selling technology today takes a great deal of time, patience and most of all knowledge of the product. There was a time when a salesperson was just that, a salesperson. Now, with the onset of all the new technologies, from RF and metal backed boards to flex and rigid-flex boards, to HDI and microvia boards and heavy copper boards, a salesperson must know what he’s talking about.

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Standard of Excellence: RF Microwave Technology—The Future is Now

11-29-2016

Although RF/microwave technology has been around for a considerable amount of time, many people are still not sure exactly what it is. This month, I am going to dedicate my column to explaining exactly what it is, why it is used, and in what products is it used. I’ll also discuss who needs it.

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Standard of Excellence: Let’s Get Flexible

11-18-2016

Although flex and rigid-flex technology has been around for many years, it is only in recent years that it has come into its own. The reason for the increased requirements for the flex and rigid-flex technology is simple: Devices are getting smaller.

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Communication Breeds Success

08-29-2016

We all need to talk to one another. You need to work closely with your customers. And we all need to work with the new generation of PCB designers and design engineers, many of whom have never set foot in a board shop. Fortunately, they make up for their lack of DFM knowledge with their hunger for information.

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The Future is in Fine Lines

07-11-2016

The age of much finer lines and spaces is upon us. After years of slowly moving towards this technology our customers are now demanding that all of us provide them with fine lines and spaces.

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LED and Metal-Backed Technology—Today and in the Future

05-25-2016

Probably one of the hottest, or should I say coolest, technologies today is LED. I would also venture to say it is one of the fastest growing as well...

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Tips for Finding a Great PCB R&D Partner

04-06-2016

This new column, Standard of Excellence, represents a cooperative writing effort by a team of experts at American Standard Circuits. This month, we begin with CEO Anaya Vardya, who focuses on R&D. In his piece, he provides his insights on what characteristics to look for in a good R&D PCB fabrication vendor partner, and a few things that are expected of them to do for you.

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