- pcb007 Magazine
Getting to Know Your Designer
In this issue, we examine how fabs work with their design customers, educating them on the critical elements of fabrication needed to be successful, as well as the many tradeoffs involved. How well do you really know your customer? What makes for a closer, more synchronized working relationship?
In this issue, the biggest names in PCB manufacturing share their economic outlook for the upcoming year and beyond. As you will see, they were all bullish on our industry, but there was some apprehension as well. No one wants to get burned by another the supply chain disruption.
- Events||| MENU
- pcb007 Magazine
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
By Nolan Johnson
< Back To Columns
Nolan’s Notes: TQM—Always in Style
A new white paper from IPC titled “Electronic Design and Manufacturing Sustainably”1 recently caught my eye, particularly because I just completed a podcast series with Siemens on the topic of sustainability as well as our June issue of SMT007 Magazine on sustainability in automation.
The white paper mentions common themes we see in discussions about sustainability, namely “leadership culture,” “collaboration,” and “industry-wide thinking.” The author maintains that there are many facets to sustainability, all of which seemingly need to be addressed simultaneously. Furthermore, sustainability work is not a one-and-done sort of project. Have you heard of “greenwashing?” It’s a term that means putting an environmentally conscious veneer on something that is otherwise unchanged. It’s bad form to issue a press release just because you changed the type of light bulbs in your factory, for example. Sincere work in sustainability is an ongoing process, a prime example of continuous improvement within each of our companies, as well as across company (and political) boundaries. Recently, I saw a public service ad showing the before and after photos of a trash-covered beach, with the tagline, “It’s not my garbage, but it is my planet.” That is the kind of transformational thinking about our collective futures that sustainability will require.
“So many of our electronics manufacturing industry colleagues are talking more and doing more about sustainability for electronics,” says Kelly Scanlon, IPC’s lead sustainability strategist, speaking of the Siemens white paper. “The engineers who participate in IPC’s Industry Intelligence are perfect examples of industry experts who saw a need to offer helpful resources. Expect to see more industry insights—from industry for industry—from IPC’s Sustainability Initiative as we continue to build a community for those who are engaging on sustainability for electronics.”
Sustainability is, and must be, an ongoing way of thinking. Sustainability has become a requirement, not an option. Continuous improvement is much the same—table stakes, not a differentiator. In Michael Porter’s 1988 book, Competitive Strategy, he flat out states that operational efficiency is not a competitive strategy that you cannot optimize yourself into a dominant market position. Operational effectiveness is a requirement for being in business at all.
In Chapter 3, “Diseases and Obstacles,” of his book, Out of the Crisis, organizational strategist Dr. Edwards Deming shares his Seven Deadly Diseases of Management2 :
- Lack of constancy of purpose to plan product and service that will have a market and keep the company in business, and provide jobs.
- Emphasis on short-term profits: short-term thinking (just the opposite from constancy of purpose to stay in business), fed by fear of unfriendly takeover, and by push from bankers and owners for dividends.
- Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review.
- Mobility of management; job hopping.
- Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.
- Excessive medical costs. As reported by Dr. Deming in Out of the Crisis, executives shared with him that the cost of medical care for their employees was amongst their largest overall expenses, not to mention the cost of medical care embedded in the purchase price of what they purchased from their suppliers.
- Excessive costs of liability, swelled by lawyers that work on contingency fees.
His list furthers the point: While still minding today’s business, leadership must think long-term, beyond this quarter’s results. I find it interesting how Deming’s seven points inter-relate with not only continuous improvement, but also sustainability and strategy. How much might the decision not to upgrade an old, under-performing piece of capital equipment, for example, have knock-on effects? Delaying that purchase may protect some profits this quarter, but at what expense down the road? Does it contribute too much to line downtime? Does it require more human labor to operate and maintain than a replacement? Does it contribute negatively to employee health and welfare, potentially driving up health care costs?
As I thought about these “diseases and obstacles,” all the circles on the Venn diagram of sustainability and continuous improvement shifted toward the center. We can talk about environmental sustainability, but continuous improvement methods are business sustainability. That’s the convergence of all these market dynamics, and where we must think more strategically than ever before. The onus is on leadership and vision.
Continuous improvement, in other words, never goes out of style. And it starts with leadership. In the July 2023 issue of PCB007 Magazine, we explore how TQM specifically has entered the DNA of continuous improvement disciplines, and the role leadership plays in transformation. If you've ever competed against a TQM company, you understand their winning advantage.
There are so many exciting dynamics in motion right now in our industry. Recently a laminate materials CEO commented, “Our current market is the most dynamic we’ve seen since the 1970s.” He’s got a point. There are stories to tell and conversations to have about how we all move this industry forward. Let us know what’s on your mind; you might just open a conversation on yet another dynamic inside our industry. I look forward to your email with your thoughts, perspectives, and topic ideas.
- “Electronic Design and Manufacturing Sustainability, a White Paper from IPC Industry Intelligence,” ipc.org.
- “Seven Deadly Diseases of Management,” deming.org.
This column originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of PCB007 Magazine.
More Columns from Nolan's NotesNolan's Notes: Boost Your Sales
Nolan’s Notes: Let Your Walls Down
Nolan’s Notes: The Cost of Rework
Nolan’s Notes: Set Your Sails Properly
Nolan’s Notes: The Registration Sweet Spot
Nolan’s Notes: Gen Z in Manufacturing
Nolan’s Notes: The Eyes Have It
Nolan's Notes: Convergence