Everybody’s reading about it….

With the Lean NPI workflow built on top of ODB++ for product-model hand-off to manufacturing, it is worth  noting that the most intensively read article in PCB Design and Fabrication magazine last year was on the subject of Lean NPI, contributed by our Best Practice Partner :- Optimum Design Associates. See the report at http://pcdandf.com/cms/designnews/10575-readers-choice-top-10-articles-of-2013 Congratulations to the team at Optimum Designs! We hope to publish the Part-3 of their “Lean NPI journey” story during this year, when they have gathered quantitative data on the benefits achieved.

Other news about Alliance partners is that we now have over 50 partners listed, with more in the pipeline. The range of ODB++ interfaces being created continues to interesting, with a handful of testing software and machine vendors such as Seica, GigaVis, Corelis and Digitaltest driving their solutions from ODB++. The most recent news is from Artwork Conversion Software Inc., who have just published a video showing how to use ODB++ as the basis for generating a 3D model of a PCB assembly, for use by a well-known MCAD system. Said to provide a much better solution than IDF or STEP – which is quite thought provoking. I guess that aligns with our long-standing view that what the industry needs is working solutions that link tools together in the most efficient way – that is the primary consideration; whether the data conforms to a formal standard or not is, at best, of secondary consideration. In the end, it’s all about getting the job done. Take a look at http://youtu.be/lzvPgkxxFqU. What you see there is a 3D rendering of the ODB++ 2.5D data. Even though the components are prismatic, the accuracy of representing the PCB is excellent – looks like what would come off the production line! Maybe one day PCB manufacturing data will go to true 3D – that can be an additional +-sign in the ODB++………..ODB+++?

Lean NPI – the story develops

Today we have published the second part of the Lean NPI implementation story from Optimum Designs. Take a look at http://www.odb-sa.com/resources/, where you will see part-2 in the white-papers section. Thanks to Optimum Designs for continuing to document their approach to re-engineering their NPI processes to take maximum advantage of ODB++ and the associated tools-flow between design, fabrication and assembly! As I see it, the most notable aspect of their Lean NPI plan is the extensive “left-shifting” of DFM to the very earliest stage in the design flow, using a significant overlap between the two types of product-model – the design database and the manufacturing-oriented product model (the ODB++). I also see that the switch over from the old Gerber method to ODB++ is seen as a transition-process that will be managed over a period of time. No sign of any drawings in their definition of “best-practice” either…. The next editions of the white-paper series will describe how (whether…?) they succeeded with the implementation and the actual quantified benefits achieved. The journey continues!

4000 members

Well, the Alliance just passed the 4000 member mark, and I see a lot of healthy traffic in the community with members helping each other to understand the format and the options for its implementation. In the last 6 months we have also seen an acceleration in the “Solutions Development” partners, where there is now an interesting range of ODB++ implementors there: 8 PCB CAD vendors, 8 functional-simulation providers, 5 CAM vendors, some production machine vendors and at least 3 companies active in mechanical CAD and PLM. More are on the way, and all are welcome. In the new “Best-practice” partners’ section you will see many new names there, covering all aspects of PCB design, fabrication and assembly services – with an extensive international distribution.

Soon there will be some initial samples of ODB++ v8 data on the resources page, something we can expect to see more of as this latest version of the format starts to be implemented across the design/manufacturing spectrum.

That’s the way to do it!

One of the Alliance’s more prolific “Best Practice” partners just submitted a very impressive “how-to” video about managing the ODB++ flow out of their CAD tools into DFM and manufacturing. Take a look at http://www.odb-sa.com/wp-content/uploads/How_To_Implement_ODB.mp4. Well done Randy Holt of Optimum Design Associates – a film producer as well as PCB technologist! In this case, the flow illustrated is using the design tools of Mentor, but the exact same principles can apply to any other design tools-flow. Are there any other partners out there who would like to make a similar “how-to” for a different brand of design tools? I would be glad to arrange for them to feature also. What are the opinions about Randy’s video though? I am sure he would be glad to receive your feedback via the Community forum. All those designers who say to themselves “I can see ODB++ is a better way, but I just don’t really know how to get started” should take 30 minutes to watch Randy show them the steps! Enjoy the viewing….

ODB++ version-8 . Evolution not revolution

Today the latest version of ODB++ format, version-8, becomes available – you will see it there on the resources page, available for download alongside the v7 specification. Do I hear sighs of relief about the metric units and cheers for the extended range of standard symbols? This new version contains a range of enhancements that build on the existing structures. Everything there is intended to enable higher levels of automation in DFM and CAM to be achieved by incremental development of existing software tools. It has been a few years since v7 was released, thus this upgrade of the format to v8 contains the results of many suggestions and requests from the global user base. Will it cause disruption? Not if it is implemented “manufacturing backwards towards design”, while at the same time maintaining compatibility with v7 in the tools-flow. Will implementation happen overnight? No, but that is to be expected as outsourced design-to-manufacturing value-chains implement the format step-by-step to realize efficiencies in engineering business processes. As a side note, a major effort has been made to make the format specification document more transparent. Let us know if you see any aspect of the document that is unclear and can be improved; we will be glad to make changes to improve clarity.

Job on hold – no purchase order!

Take a look at this link: http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?srchtype=discussedNews&type=member&trk=eml-anet_dig-b_pd-ttl-cn&ut=2mFfX3sEPQNBA1&item=209389651&gid=1821753&view=

Here, in a few words, is one of the major reasons to use ODB++. Very clearly articulated by Mitch (thanks!). But don’t forget the purchase order to your manufacturer as well; most manufacturers will expect to be paid……. ODB++ carries a lot of value, but it does not carry actual money…!

Apart from lack of money, what other reasons are there for having a job go “on hold” at the manufacturer?



Ask the manufacturer!

Probably some of you have noted the article in PCB007: http://www.pcbdesign007.com/pages/zone.cgi?a=89442. It is all about visiting the fabricator to understand the manufacturing process and take that into account all lessons learnt during your design work. The main part of the article is about learning the manufacturing process constraints, but the same principle applies to the question of learning what the manufacturer actually does with the data you send out to them. There remains (confirmed by the survey: http://www.odb-sa.com/2012/03/19/data-hand-off-survey-results/) a massive understanding gap between what many designers think the manufacturers does with the data supplied, and what the manufacturer actually does. The classical one is the perception that the data supplied is actually used to drive the manufacturing machines; well it isn’t! It is read into a CAM system further analysis and processing. The last thing the manufacturer does is actually generate the machine driver-files. So, designers out there, I ask the question: when did you last ask your fabricator or assembly house what they actually do with the data you supply them? Did you succeed to move the conversation from “we can build from what you send us – no problem” to “well actually, if you just sent us a single ODB++file with the following attributes set, we will not need anything else…”? Without an open dialogue between manufacturer and designer, progress is unlikely. Did I hear somebody mention “over the wall syndrome”?

New Partner Paper Series & Aberdeen Group Report

I would like to draw your attention to a couple of items that relate to ODB++ either directly or indirectly. First, on the resources page you will find the first of a series of papers published by one of the Alliance partners, Optimum Design Associates.   Take a look at “Lean NPI at Optimum Design Associates – Part 1  where are we now?”, at http://www.odb-sa.com/resources/.   Step by step, Optimum will be describing how they are adapting their design and manufacturing flow to take maximum advantage of ODB++ data and (as a side note..) the application of DFM during the design process. I recommend you follow the story as it unfolds during coming months. If you want to give any feedback to Optimum you can link to them from the partners’ page on this site. Second, has anybody seen the report from Aberdeen Group at http://research.aberdeen.com/1/ebooks/pcb-npi/index.html ? Lots of interesting conclusions about PCB design-to-manufacturing data transfer, following a thorough industry survey. What I thought interesting was the conclusion that there are multiple interconnected factors associated with being “Best in Class” in design-to-manufacturing integration.  There is not just one “silver bullet” that will get you in the “Best in Class” category. Take a look at the report to see what I mean!

2000 members, and rising…….

A couple of weeks ago the Alliance passed the 2000 member mark. As I write, there are (to be precise…) 2437 members registered on the site. Welcome to all!  Also, note the increasing number of partners on http://www.odb-sa.com/partners/ – a widespread representation from around the world, of solutions-providers and design or manufacturing companies who implement ODB++ as best-practice for their daily operations. Amongst the solutions-providers we have providers of pcb design software, CAM tools, analysis tools, supply-chain solutions, and assembly and inspection machines, representing all of the essential steps to designing and manufacturing a PCB.  If you are reading this and would like your company to be represented as a partner within the Alliance, just let me know. The press release announcing the latest news about the ODB++ Solutions Alliance can be found at http://www.pcb007.com/pages/zone.cgi?a=86165&artpg=1&topic=0 and http://www10.edacafe.com/nbc/articles/1/1114322/ODB++-Solutions-Alliance-Exceeds-2000-Members. Let us know about any other places where it was published.