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….
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.
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?
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”?
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!
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.
As the next step in globalizing ODB++, today we launch a Chinese version of the ODB++ Solutions Alliance. To all our Chinese colleagues out there – welcome to the world of ODB++, we all hope you benefit from the Alliance and find it useful for your PCB design and manufacturing businesses!
An update about the Alliance in general:- apart from the ever-increasing list of partners from across the PCB value-chain that you will see on the Partners page, the ODB++ Solutions Alliance also just passed the 2000-member level; not bad for less than 6 months since launch. But as we know from the survey we made (see blog of March 19th), there are still many designers out there who could benefit from higher awareness of the benefits of ODB++, in terms of improving the way their product is launched into manufacturing. For those people:- the Alliance is here to help the whole industry learn about ODB++ and how to implement it across the design-to-manufacturing process. Tell your friends, especially in China!
Today we welcome the publishing house UP Media as the 23rd new partner of the ODB++ Solutions Alliance. Many of you will know them as the publisher of Printed Circuit Design and Fabrication magazine who, amongst everything else, published the story about Viasystems and their support for ODB++:- http://pcdandf.com/cms/component/content/article/246-2012-articles/8824-data-transfer. If you mouse-over the UP Media logo on our partners’ page you will see “……the electronics industry must kick its Gerber habit, and supports the ODB++ Solutions Alliance as a superior CAD/CAM hand-off process to Gerber”. Interesting to see Gerber described as a “habit”. I know I drink far too much coffee – that’s a habit. But what about the withdrawal symptoms of moving away from Gerber as opposed to switching from coffee to the green tea that I know would be so much better for me? How bad can it be to stop sending Gerber to manufacturers and send ODB++ instead? What would the side effects be? I suggest that switching away from ODB++ to Gerber is a lot easier than kicking the coffee habit, judging by the survey feedback we got from designers who made the switch. So, I put the question out there to the folks who have already “kicked the Gerber habit”:- what were the side effects, did you suffer withdrawal symptoms? It would be great to hear from people who made the switch from Gerber to ODB++. Give us your comments!
When you ask your manufacturer about the data you send them, do they say “everything OK, no problem”? Is that because the data you hand off to them really is best-in-class for manufacturing purposes, or is your manufacturer afraid to complain or of appearing less capable than his competitors in dealing with your data so he is afraid to suggest “opportunities for improvement”? In the highly competitive world of outsourced manufacturing how do we resolve the hard commercial realities of price, delivery, perceived competence and service-reliability with higher level goals such as taking cost and quality-risk out of your design-to-manufacturing hand-off process?
I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had in the last 15 years with designers who say “our manufacturers work with Gerber, none of them are asking for ODB++” or “I am not sure my suppliers can work with ODB++, but for sure they can all accept Gerber”. On the manufacturing side it can be “we have to work with whatever our customer sends us, that’s the business situation and we are very good at responding to that” or “we would prefer ODB++ but what our customers send is controlled by their purchasing department”. Collectively, what all that adds up to is a passive agreement to keep the manufacturing data output process on the design side long, manual and risk-prone, and on the manufacturing side for the CAM guys to continue manipulating manually the supplied data into a form that is coherent and ready for tooling-generation – also lengthy and open to errors.
The survey results I summarized in the last blog show the range of time and quality benefits designers have seen after switching from Gerber to the ODB++ method. So why hasn’t everybody made the change? If you step back for a moment and ask yourself whether you would like all your manufacturing suppliers to give you a faster service when introducing a new product into manufacturing, of course there is only one answer – yes! It is clear from the survey that people with knowledge of ODB++ also know that its benefits are very real as compared to the old methods; the barrier to change is not really technical – it is a question of embracing change in business processes; daring to step forward and make it happen.
Do you want to make the switch to ODB++ happen? Let us know where you find the barriers to be, so we can knock them down one at a time!
About a month ago we decided to get some statistically significant information about what types of data designers are sending out to manufacturing, their levels of awareness of ODB++ and the alternatives, and what drives their choice of format for manufacturing hand-off. We invited just under 100,000 designers to respond to a web-survey, from which we got 1204 returns; a fairly normal response level for a survey such as this. Here is a summary of what came back:-
1. ODB++ awareness level.
- The majority (73%) either have never heard of ODB++, or they have heard of it but do not understand its benefits. Shock…!
- The majority of the remaining segment (27%), in other words, the people who do know what ODB++ is, regard ODB++ as an open format supported by multiple solutions providers.
2. People who have knowledge about ODB++ :- their opinions about its purpose.
- 97% agree that it is a replacement for Gerber
- 80% agree that ODB++ replaces all formats needed for PCB fabrication or assembly
- 87% agree that ODB++ is a “good” or “best” choice for data hand-off for fabrication or assembly
3. From those who have experience of ODB++, when asked what the primary value from using ODB++ was for them, the response was (total = 100%):
- 39% state “saving time when making manufacturing outputs from the design process”
- 31% state “manufacturing can get started more quickly”
- 12% state “manufacturing cost is reduced”
- 18% state “manufactured product quality is higher”
4. Standardization. 4% of respondents do not adopt ODB++ because they only believe in formal standards.
Our conclusions from all this are that, before anything else, there is still a big knowledge barrier out there. Even after being available as a supported solution in the market for more than 15 years, most designers still have little or no idea that ODB++ is an available solution for replacing Gerber! Clearly we need to focus on communicating and persuading the market in general about the opportunity. But, by contrast, amongst the group of designers who do have knowledge or experience of ODB++, most are fully aware that it presents a good (or best!) opportunity to replace all the old formats, and experience time and quality improvements. Lastly, and this has been consistent across the market for many decades already:- only a very small minority (4%) are “waiting for a formal standard”.
The main point: we need to continue the building of awareness and knowledge about the opportunity to replace Gerber, so as to save time and improve quality!
What are the opinions on this? Please let me know!