This Month in PCB007 Magazine: A Scorecard for Suppliers


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Al Block and Naji Norder from National Instruments talk about the PCQR2 tool, what that entails, and how companies can use the data-driven analysis to validate the quality of suppliers and potentially save millions.

According to IPC’s website: "The IPC Process Capability, Quality and Relative Reliability Program is a unique supply chain management resource, developed by IPC and Conductor Analysis Technologies for designers, manufacturers, and users of printed circuit boards. The program is based on statistical data collected from industry-developed test patterns, which quantifies the capability, quality, and reliability of printed board manufacturers.”

Al_Block.jpgPatty Goldman: Al, you are the chair of the IPC PCQR2 committee [D-36]. Let’s talk about what’s going on in that committee and some things you’re looking to do, but first, start with your background and what you do at National Instruments.

Al Block: I’m a DFM engineer, and my background is in PCBs. I worked as a chemist at Texas Instruments for 20 years, so that’s where my strong knowledge base is, and that has helped me now at National Instruments where we do PCB assembly.

Goldman: And Naji, you have been with National Instruments for how long?

Naji_Norder.jpgNaji Norder: I’ve been with National Instruments for 20 years. I’ve been working with the PCB supply base as a commodity for about 10 and participating in our audit and qualification process for about five years now.

Block: At National Instruments, we buy our raw boards and assemble them. Before we joined the PCQR2 program, we tried to evaluate our shops based on technology, so we came up with high/medium/low. While that was an improvement, it depended on someone like me to be able to evaluate the shops and the technology of the boards to decide where they would be appropriately placed, so we could get the cost down and still keep our quality up.

The issue was that our technology needs kept evolving. One person could not keep up with the increasing technology and widening supply base. That’s when we started looking at the PCQR2 benchmark database. PCQR2 is a system that allows us to look at different PCB shops and evaluate their capabilities. It also allowed us to remove the expertise of someone like me. You do not need someone that’s worked in the PCB industry to be able to evaluate the shops. You are able to look at their capabilities for doing these different board structures and evaluate them to say, “This type of board can go to this shop because they’re excellent at it, and we know we’re going to get great yields.”

To read this entire interview, which appeared in the March 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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