What is Risk Management for PCB Design and Manufacturing?

When looking at the success of some athletes, such as Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Michael Phelps, it is not difficult to imagine that they were fated to attain those achievements. Although they certainly possessed natural physical abilities, they each had to work extremely hard to overcome obstacles and reach the pinnacle of their sports. Of course, it would be wonderful if we could rely on fate, or even the Fates as the ancient Greeks did, to help us avoid pitfalls and failures while striving for our own apexes. But alas, we are left to find alternative methods of managing risks that could potentially derail us. Risk management is a major consideration for any type of process with a defined objective or type of production, including building PCBs. Let’s first define exactly what risk management is and then see how it applies to PCB design and manufacturing, especially to maximize yield rates.

Risk Management Basics

Risk management can be broadly defined as:

The process of identifying potential sources that may negatively impact or pose a risk to a project or product, quantifying the degree of impact of the risk, devising a means to offset or mitigate the impact of the risk and implementing and monitoring the results so that the process can be improved.  

This process can be conceptualized, as shown below.

Risk management process

The Risk Management Concept

As shown in the figure above, the risk management process can be defined by four major elements:

  • Identification of risks

The first, and some would argue the most important, aspect of the risk management process is successfully and accurately identifying the risks that may potentially halt, delay or otherwise harm the project or product. Identification includes determining the source of the risks, which may be internal or external to your project or product development.

  • Assessment of risks

Once risks are identified, they must be categorized with defined parameters that can be used as a basis for devising a control strategy. Parameters should allow you to determine the probability of a risk occurring, its severity, and a trigger or level at which action should be taken against the risk.

  • Control of risks

A plan of action to mitigate risks is the means by which the impact of risks is controlled. This should include alternative techniques or methods to achieve the project or product objective without subjecting it to the risk or increasing the severity of the risk.

  • Review of the risk controls

The success of risk management depends, to a great extent, on the adaptability of the plan of action. To facilitate this flexibility, a risk analysis plan is used to clearly quantify the risks and controls to be applied. A risk analysis plan is not fixed in stone. Instead, it requires continuous monitoring and adjustment.

The list above is applicable to any risk management strategy; however, effectiveness depends on its application to the specific project or product at hand. Therefore, we need to adapt the strategy to PCB design and manufacturing.

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What is Risk Management for PCB Design and Manufacturing?

The overall objective of PCB design and manufacturing is to deliver a product to the client that meets all of the design objectives for performance, quality, and reliability. Moreover, this goal should be achieved in the most efficient manner possible or the design and manufacturing processes should be optimized even for special board types. Achieving this objective requires designing the best PCB layout and instituting risk management that is dynamic and continually improving your design and manufacturing process results. This begins with knowing sources for potential risks, quantifying the risks, and devising controls for them. For PCBs, risks can be categorized as electrical, mechanical, thermal, or environmental. An example of each of these risk types is shown in the table below.


Potential Risks

Category Parameters

Risk Control


Electrical Spacing

Solder mask expansion

Warping, cracking, breaking

Mechanical Flexural strength

IPC-6013 Standard


Thermal Decomposition temperature

Soldering temperature


Environmental Surface finish

Handling sensitivity

And after fully developing your list of risks, you can check off each category above. Once this crucial step is complete, your risk management plan development will be well on its way to being comprehensive.

What is risk management? Risk management for PCB design and manufacturing is identifying and creating controls for all potential electrical, mechanical, thermal, and environmental risks that may negatively impact your process of creating the best boards for specific design criteria.

Tempo‘s Custom PCB Manufacturing Service
  • ISO-9001, IPC-600 and IPC-610 commitment to quality certifications.
  • Accurate quote in less than 1 day.
  • Performs entire turnkey process in as fast as 3 days.
  • Emphasizes DFM to eliminate time-consuming back-and-forth design corrections.
  • Sources components from the most reputable suppliers in the industry to reduce procurement time.
  • Performs multiple automated inspections during assembly to ensure PCB quality for prototyping.
  • Provides support throughout the PCB manufacturing process, beginning with design.
  • Smooth transition from prototyping to production.

Tempo Automation, the industry leader in quickly building high-quality PCBs, is well-positioned to support your risk management. We are committed to the highest quality throughout our manufacturing process and will assist you to ensure that you have the necessary information and data to optimize your DFM.

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 user, you can simply add these files to your PCB design software.

If you are ready to have your design manufactured, try our quote tool to upload your CAD and BOM files. If you want to know more about risk management or how to incorporate it into your design, contact us.

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