Are ISO Procedures Strangling Innovation?


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Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Quantel’s Roger Beers, who voiced his concerns about the struggles engineering departments face when dealing with new technologies within ISO procedures. While great for repeatable processes, Roger says ISO in its current state may be preventing engineering growth.

Andy Shaughnessy: Roger, give us a quick background about yourself and how you got into PCBs and your position at Quantel USA.

Roger Beers: I grew up on the southern Oregon coast. My first computer was the Commodore VIC-20; next, I moved up to “the pet” and then the Commodore 64. The Commodore was my introduction to the software world and later into the engineering world. That’s where you learned how to tinker, read Compute!, use someone else’s code to make games just to play, etc. My interest in electronics, computers, and software all came about through the old Commodore days. Currently, I’m an electrical engineer on laser control systems for Quantel Laser USA.

Shaughnessy: What would you say is your sweet spot for your company?

Beers: We make a lot of high-precision lasers, such as LIDAR for defense, medical, and self-driving cars. We have high-power lasers for military, industrial, and scientific applications, or whatever the application is. A lot of research laboratories come for the high rep rate.

Shaughnessy: That’s a fun area to be in. We talked earlier, and you had an interesting take on ISO certification. Tell us more about that.

Beers: ISO is basically “document what you say, and say what you do.” Right now, with the new ISO coming out, it’s all about risk-based analysis and mitigating risks for the company (stockholders). From a marketing standpoint, it’s a selling tool as well, but to me, it should all be about a quality system. The big thing I see with a quality system is how do you keep up with technology when your ISO procedures are written in such a way that you can’t move ahead with new software because you’d have to tweak documentation to keep up with it? I think management could be holding back engineering if you do everything according to ISO procedures. There is a fine line between keeping procedures vague and not so detailed but still driving consistent and best design practices.

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the December 2019 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.

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