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The I-Connect007 Editorial Team spoke with Whizz Systems in the months prior to COVID. As we come out of lockdown, we decided to check in with Muhammad Irfan and Dan Williams of Whizz Systems.
In this part of the interview, they discuss Whizz Systems’ unique methods for navigating the many handoffs involved in the design and manufacturing process, as well as their drive to educate their customers about this process. They also share their thoughts on the trends they’ve seen as a CM working out of Silicon Valley.
Barry Matties: Let’s start with a quick update on where you are now and how things are going.
Muhammad Irfan: Last year, because of COVID, our Q2 had some impact, but right after that it’s been recovering very steadily and growing. As far as general business, we’re very blessed that we’re doing very well. In terms of our plans and updates, we have replaced some of the equipment. Generally, we try to keep up with the new capability or equipment when we see something out there that we should have. From a setup point of view, we’re in good shape. We’ve added some new equipment, but generally, we are staffed and equipped to deal with any new projects that come in. I’ll repaint the oral context of who we’re trying to sell and why we are positioned the way we are positioned and how it helps us solve customers’ problems. It’s not something we have to sell, but customers have problems, and we are tailoring our setup to solve their challenges.
Generally, in our business, in product development, you have some level of a spec that customers start with, and they have a product architecture, some level of architecture in mind. From then onward, they’re either using internal resources to do some level of design, some parts of the design, and then they go out to companies to help with various aspects during the design, including the hardware design itself, the FPGA design, the mechanical design, running thermal simulations, electrical simulations, signal integrity, and power integrity simulations. And possibly, if there is an FPGA on the board, they might engage an FPGA design company to develop RTL code to write the program for the FPGAs. That’s all included within the design phase itself.
Traditionally, in this model in the market, customers approach you with some in-house resources, and they go to multiple companies to help them with different aspects of this. Very few companies have all this insight internally. Tier ones, yes, but they are modeling around 70% workload to be handled internally, with 30% peaks and valleys through outsourcing. Mid-sized and onward companies would go out to somebody for some aspects of this. And then comes the part where they are handing off to a board layout shop, and that board layout shop might be a manufacturing company that has board layout capability internally, or they may work with somebody outside like a manufacturing house to build their prototypes.
Then once the prototypes are done, the customer’s engineers bring the board to the lab or the system and they start debugging, import their software on it, and start bringing it up. When they have issues with the board, they go back to the manufacturing house and say, “Can you rework this part or that part? We need to replace these values of resistance and caps. The disconnector is screwed up, we need to reverse the planarity on these or pin up on this.”
This is normal when they’re doing the debug. Also during the debug is a combination of hardware, firmware, and software resources together during the bring-up of the board, when the customer launches their software on it. It becomes a collaborative effort. We saw all that, and we see multiple handoffs. Number one, the one hand does not necessarily talk to the other and the customer becomes a translator between these. Number two, when there is a hiccup in one area, it’s a linear hit on the schedule because the customer is in the middle. The customer feels a schedule delay. The fab shop is going to say, “You gave me the Gerber on this day, and it’s a three-day turn. My day one starts today, not two days ago when you’re supposed to give me the Gerber.” Or, “By the way, my line is busy now, I’m on to something else.” Things like that.
To read this entire interview, which appeared in the July 2021 issue of Design007 Magazine, click here.