5 Keys for Efficient PCBA Data Management

July 14, 2020 , in Blog

Everyone has heard, at least once, that knowledge is power. What does that mean exactly? For Billy Batson, it is obvious as knowing and saying the magic word, “Shazam!”, is the catalyst for his transformation into the all-powerful Captain Marvel. However, what of us that are not superheroes? For us, perhaps having the proper knowledge and using it appropriately can be empowering is more accurate.

This alternative and more defined version of the popular slogan certainly applies to PCBA development. For example, the efficiency of the process and quality of your boards depends to a great degree upon how well data; including PCBA DFM guidelines are used and the accuracy and completeness of the PCBA manufacturing files that you provide to your contract manufacturer (CM). In fact, efficient PCBA data management is a major pillar for optimized PCBA design and manufacturing. The essentials for this level of managing board development data are presented below, which are better understood by first exploring the flow of data throughout the development process.

Monitoring, controlling and securing data flow

Data management

Understanding the Ins and Outs of PCBA Data Management

One of the most important aspects of any business is how well products are delivered to those who need them. The effectiveness of product delivery depends upon a well-defined logistical plan. The same is true for moving a board design through manufacturing to the desired result, a well-constructed, high-quality PCBA. For advanced digitized PCBA development, this means a well-defined data management plan, which can be defined by the functioning listed below.

PCBA Data Management Functions

  • External PCBA Data Management

Managing external data consists of accepting inputs and delivering outputs. Inputs are the electronics component list or BOM and design data, which most likely consists of Gerber files or a CAD file and may contain specifications for DFT. Outputs are the manufacturing specifications and any PCB functional or other circuit board testing to the developer. Additionally, data must be communicated to the outsourced manufacturer (fabrication or assembly) and the component vendor(s).

  • Internal PCBA Data Management

Internally, data management is more complex and the experience, expertise, and equipment of your CM determine its effectiveness. For example, oftentimes minor adjustments must or should be made by your CM to improve the manufacturability and quality of your boards. Without these, you may wind up with a board that approaches the high end of acceptable defects for their IPC classification or an unacceptable number of unusable PCBAs. Internal data management also relies on effective and high-speed communication between board process equipment and data processing equipment (e.g. desktops, laptops, hand-held devices), which typically includes wireless transmission and reception technologies.

  • Feedback PCBA Data Management

Although board building is sequential, data communication is not and binary data transfer or the ability to provide feedback that enables real-time decision-making is a critical aspect of effective PCBA data management.

As shown, PCBA data management has a number of moving parts. These parts must be synchronized to be most effective. However, the movement and processing of data through the development process can be optimized, provided it includes the keys defined below.

How to Make Your PCBA Data Management Process Efficient

Communication is required for any enterprise to function and the same is true for the PCBA development process. Yet, the functional effectiveness can vary widely depending upon the timeliness, accuracy, and quality of transaction data between the principles, equipment, and devices that comprise the data supply chain of the digital thread. For the most efficient PCBA development, the following keys are essential.

Efficient PCBA Data Management Keys

🔑    Compatibility and ease of use

To be efficient, a PCBA data management system must be easy to use for all involved and all elements must be able to communicate. The more automation, the better.

🔑    Transparency

To maximize agility or the ability to make changes as requested with minimal increase in turnaround time and cost, pertinent data must be accessible to engineers, designers, technicians, and other technical staff, in addition to management.

🔑    Fast and synchronous communications

It is also important that data be available when needed and in a usable format for the recipient or device.

🔑    Data supply chain security

Everyone knows that cyberspace can, at times, be a minefield. However, the advantages of using the internet and the cloud outweigh the perils. Nevertheless, securing your data is critical as breaches could expose proprietary information that if breached could impact patents, market share, and/or lead to significant revenue losses.

🔑    Traceability

All data generated that impacts the PCBA development process should be traceable to its source. This will support and contribute to your quality and risk management plans.

The advantages of digitized PCBA manufacturing over the contemporary process are higher-quality boards produced faster that accurately incorporate your design’s intent. However, efficient data management is also necessary to optimize your board builds, which is realizable with the incorporation of the keys listed above.

Tempo’s Software-Driven Smart Factory Delivers the Industry’s Leading Custom Turnkey PCBA Manufacturing Services
  • Virtual PCBA Contract manufacturing.
  • Rapid, accurate quotes.
  • DFM support from Day 1 of design.
  • Digital Thread Processing with real-time monitoring.
  • Fastest turnaround times in the industry to maximize ROI.
  • QC certified Agile Manufacturing process to support risk management.
  • Standard and Advanced QC testing.
  • Worry-free supply chain continuity.
  • Specialization in rapid prototyping and low-volume production.
  • PCBA development optimization for complex critical system industries like Aerospace, Medical Devices, Automotive, and Industrial.

At Tempo Automation, we utilize a digital thread to maximize the effectiveness of software-based PCBA manufacturing to deliver these advantages for your project.

And to help you get started on the best path, we furnish information for your DFM checks and enable you to easily view and download DRC files. If you’re an Altium Designer or Cadence Allegro user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software. For Mentor Pads or other design packages, we furnish DRC information in other CAD formats and Excel.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want more information on PCBA data management and how to make it most effective, contact us.

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