Mitigating the High Cost of PCB Documentation

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The goal of minimizing the time and cost for engineering a new product and getting it to market before the competition is a constant struggle for developers of leading-edge electronic products. The complexities of the electronic component supply chain, reductions in qualified staff, and managing globally distributed engineering teams are just a few of the challenges. Eliminating bottlenecks can dramatically reduce concept-to-production time in a product life cycle. This is the Holy Grail in the quest for corporate efficiency.

To reduce or eliminate these bottlenecks in new product development, many electronic engineering teams are looking inward and reassessing the efficiency of their product engineering process. From concept to design, fabrication, and assembly, there are process inefficiencies that result in delays. The usual excuse for not reassessing, “This is the way we have always done it,” may be a sign of complacency in an inefficient engineering process.

Quite often the assessment involves an evaluation of the current EDA tool set proficiency. Frequently, these tool evaluations evolve into an assessment of how their current tools perform against competitive tools. Loyalty to the incumbent EDA provider is a lesser consideration than the efficiency of the tool. As a result, entrenched EDA suppliers are forced to perform benchmarks for current users or risk a decline in their customer base.

The Evolution of EDA Tools

In the CAD revolution of the 1980s, software-based EDA tools facilitated the migration from light tables and drafting boards to rooms full of hardware and software from best in class EDA tool providers. When one component of the EDA tool set was deemed inefficient, it was replaced with a more efficient tool from a litany of niche EDA tool providers. However, there was an inherent inefficiency in the interoperability of tools from different EDA tool providers. Integration was rudimentary at best, and often managed by the end-user. Poor tool integration was a key factor during the EDA provider consolidation in the 1990s as mergers and acquisitions forever changed the EDA landscape. The number of tool providers shrank dramatically, and the multi-provider EDA tool set slowly morphed into a sole-vendor EDA tool set.Read the full article here.Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of The PCB Design Magazine.


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