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Zuken has developed some innovative PCB design tools in the past few years, and I wanted to find out more about the company’s new and upcoming technologies. I caught up with Bob Potock, vice president of marketing for the Americas for Zuken USA, and asked him what was new at Zuken.
Andy Shaughnessy: Tell us about some of the new PCB design tools at Zuken.
Bob Potock: Let’s talk about System Planner for hardware architecture design and validation. System Planner is part of the CR-8000 product-centric design platform. As products become more complex, the need for architecture design and validation is growing. Architecture validation sits between product requirements and detailed design. Today, many companies make the leap from requirements to detailed design; years ago that might have worked, but not today. Zuken’s System Planner product provides functional, PCB planning, space and parametric design and validation. Functional design using blocks can be easily mapped back to requirements. And all those architecture decisions roll right into the detailed design tools with the push of a button.
Engineering data management (EDM) is all about data integrity and decision-making in the design process. Supply chain connectivity, dispersed design teams, modular design and version control are examples of competitive requirements. DS-2 Expresso brings these capabilities to the small and medium business segment. A deployment based on configurability and not customization makes deployment fast with all the benefits of an EDM solution.
Shaughnessy: What new technologies are you all excited about?
Potock: Rigid-flex designs are entering into more conversations. Many of our customers’ products contain multiple PCBs that traditionally required connectors on the rigid PCBs mating to connectors on separate flex PCBs. The ability to design the rigid and the flex as one eliminates the need for mating connectors, and it’s less prone to errors.
System Planner contains both 2D and 3D planning tools that can be applied to rigid-flex designs. In the 2D space, System Planner can help manage component distribution on the rigid PCBs, while in the 3D space, System Planner can ensure the rigid-flex circuit will fit within the proposed enclosure.
Shaughnessy: Which customer challenges lead you all to develop these new products?
Potock: Companies need to build more competitive products faster with lower risk. But the process gap between the product requirements and detailed design creates new products with less-than-optimal hardware architectures. Many companies are entering detailed design without validating whether or not the hardware architecture meets both the functional requirements and the cost, weight, power and packaging requirements. An architecture problem discovered in the detailed design phase in many cases is unrecoverable. In a recent survey, we found about 50% of the respondents experienced an architecture flaw during detailed design. A poor hardware architecture ultimately impacts product competitiveness and ROI.
Another challenge we hear about more and more often is the need to be more closely connected to the supply chain. Today’s poor connection to the supply chain may cause a lead-time change to be missed delaying a new product introduction. That connectivity will lead to better component selection process, awareness when a component commerce parameter changes and a higher quality BOM.
To read this entire article, which appeared in the February 2016 issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.