Medical Electronics Symposium Conference Proceedings


CHALLENGES IN OUTSOURCING PRINTED CIRCUIT BOARD DESIGN

Author: Joseph Zaccari
Company: Stilwell Baker, Inc.
Date Published: 9/12/2006   Conference: Medical Electronics Symposium


Abstract: The drive to control costs by outsourcing tasks deemed “non-core” competencies present many challenges to electronic device manufacturers. One function that is increasingly being targeted for outsourcing is Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design. The traditional outsource model for PCB design has many limitations for medical device manufacturers. Compared to an in-house design effort, the use of an external PCB design team requires significantly more communication to convey design “intent” to an outside designer. The communication challenge when outsourcing PCB design is amplified by the use of off-shore resources due to time-zone, language and cultural issues. Many consumer and commercial PCB design can be successfully outsourced to external design teams as manufacturability and cost are the critical drivers as opposed to performance and reliability. However, in the case of high performance and/or high reliability applications, the subtleties of component placement, trace routing and signal integrity require precise, interactive communication between the engineer and PCB designer. This communication is most effectively done “shoulder-to shoulder” in front of the EDA (Electronic Design Automation) tool. Outsourced medical device PCB designs further complicate this situation due to regulatory and other compliance requirements that make outsourcing burdensome on project engineers and a source of risk for the project. In addition, the security of IP is always a factor when sensitive design data is transferred outside the corporation. The problems associated with outsourcing PCB design for medical devices are the result of poor communication. Unfortunately, the underlying reason behind this poor communication, the fact that the circuit designer and the PCB designer are not co-located, is not easily overcome. This paper reviews the problems associated with outsourcing in general, the specific challenges of outsourcing PCB design and then offers practical guidelines and alternatives that can minimize or eliminate these problems. Keywords: outsourcing, PCB design, India, China



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