Good in, Good out: Bay Area Circuits Discusses Data Strategies

Reading time ( words)

A lot of companies talk about the importance of good data management, but for some firms, this amounts to little more than lip service. Then there are companies like fabricator Bay Area Circuits. I recently sat down with Bay Area Circuits President Stephen Garcia and COO Brian Paper to discuss how automating and upgrading their data systems has significantly cut down overall process time, as well as their drive to educate young PCB designers and actively promote the industry to the emerging electronics industry workforce.


Barry Matties: Let’s talk about how you manage your data. Are you a completely electronic company?

Stephen Garcia: We have tried to go as paperless as possible, and we're talking actual production data starting from the Gerber. We use Ucamco's Integr8tor software, which is the entire company's backbone. That is our database. Everything is automated. And then we've tied in our own software to connect supplement Integr8tor.

Matties: When you say your own software, is that something you developed?

Garcia: Yes, it's basically a customized CRM platform. Some production data, like process cards, are still printed, but eventually everything is digitized and stored on our servers for easy access which is especially important given that a good portion of our engineering staff works remotely and needs real-time access to data.

As we continue to grow and identify bottlenecks, we make sure employees have the access they need. Not long ago, QC may have been inspecting a job but may not have all the details. Maybe they just had a fab print and the process card, so would have to walk over to Planning and say “I'm seeing something out of the ordinary; was this approved by the customer?” Today they have full access. Each job gets a tool number, and then everything is saved on our server for employees to access the data required.

That's the hardest part of our job: incomplete or conflicting customer data. Every customer is different when it comes to Gerbers and their fab prints. We have a handful of customers who often provide us with Gerbers that rarely match the fab print. It might be a non-plated hole on their fab print, but then their Gerber is plated, things of that nature. Our system allows employees to have access to the data to investigate any issues and prevent production hiccups.

Brian Paper: We've put more emphasis on the netlist too, as far as ensuring that the customers are providing us with that type of information. We just posted a whole blog post on what a netlist is, and why it's important.

Garcia: With every customer being different, our biggest challenge is trying to educate them about what we need to successfully manufacture their project and why we need it. It’s amazing that even when some of our larger customers put on a generic fab print, half of it doesn't apply to the actual board, and we need to get approval. We say, “Hey, can we deviate away from your fab print?” and they say, “Yeah, that shouldn't be there. Just ignore it.” It definitely slows things down. We've really tried to automate as much as possible from the minute we get Gerbers.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the November 2015 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.


Suggested Items

Fully Automated Schematic Verification

02/05/2018 | Craig Armenti, Mentor
Schematic verification is a part of the hardware engineer’s responsibility just as PCB layout verification is an accepted part of the PCB designer’s responsibility. However, with today’s circuit designs becoming more and more complex, time-consuming manual schematic verification is no longer an option. Manual verification of a complex circuit introduces significant risk by not identifying schematic design errors that are, in turn, passed to the downstream processes and ultimately to the fabricated board.

Nano Dimension’s 3D Printing: Prototypes at the Push of a Button?

01/26/2018 | Barry Matties, Publisher, I-Connect007
SICK AG is a global manufacturer of sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications, with headquarters located in Waldkirch, Germany. After a demo of Nano Dimension’s new 3D printing machine at productronica, Barry Matties met with SICK’s Danny Wernet to discuss its pros and cons and get his overall impression of the technology. Are 3D prototypes really as simple as feeding in a Gerber file and pushing a button?

Bay Area Circuits Updates InstantDFM Tool

11/29/2017 | Andy Shaughnessy, PCB Design007
Bay Area Circuits is on a quest to help PCB designers and design engineers. For the past few years, the company has been holding facility tours and open house events to help designers understand more about the fabrication process. Now, Bay Area Circuits has upgraded its free design tool,, which allows customers and non-customers alike to check manufacturability and request pricing of their jobs. At PCB West, Andy Shaughnessy spoke with President Stephen Garcia and COO Brian Paper about the new tool update, and some of the other services they offer for PCB designers.

Copyright © 2018 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.