Reading time ( words)
In the August issue of SMT007 Magazine, Managing Editor Nolan Johnson discussed what he termed “supply pain management.” This reminded me of the question that doctors often ask: “What’s your pain level on a scale of 1–10?”
You all really deserve a lot of credit. For years, you’ve been working through your supply chain pain, like Rip Wheeler after he got shot on “Yellowstone.” It hurts, but we’re short on cowboys, so get back to work. Designers and design engineers have learned to navigate this supply chain craziness, snatching up components in short supply or making do with lower-tech parts because they’re available.
When was the supply chain’s last normal month? It’s hard to put a date on it, because even in the years prior to the pandemic, we went through a period of 50-week lead times. We had barely recovered from that when COVID hit. Changes of this magnitude have created pain up and down the supply chain.
Designers have always been the “hub of the wagon wheel,” as Mary Sugden once said, but now you’ve become much more. You’ve become supply pain managers. You do the best you can to ameliorate the pain felt by you and the other stakeholders. Today’s designers try to avoid the pain with a little extra early planning, but sometimes the pain gets bad enough that you might want to take a painkiller.
Supply chain management is a constantly changing dynamic situation, and our systems were not set up for this level of “component awareness.” Until recently, many PCBs were designed with single-sourced components because it just wasn’t an issue for most parts. Now, many OEMs are demanding that all components have multiple sources.
An upside to the supply chain misery is that everyone else in the electronics industry is going through the same thing. You’re all in this together, and I know you’ll come out of this stronger than ever.
Many of these new design tricks—technical and otherwise—are likely to become part of the typical design cycle moving forward. Now that designers and engineers are accustomed to having second and third sources for everything on the BOM, do you think we’ll ever go back to the old way? I doubt it.
While gathering content for this month's issue of Design007 Magazine, we spoke with designers and design engineers of every stripe. We heard horror stories and tales of succeeding against all odds, as well as a variety of clever workarounds. We learned that communication—always a slippery topic—has become vital in this environment.
Our experts bring you up-to-the-minute insight about designing PCBs in this ever-changing environment. First, we have a conversation with our columnist Kelly Dack, who shares several new techniques for designing PCBs in today’s atmosphere. Chintan Sutaria of CalcuQuote explains how software tools can help you keep on top of ever-changing inventories. Next, Altium’s Dan Schoenfelder discusses their Electronic Digital to Design Index (EDDI), which provides a current snapshot as well as a historical record of each part’s availability back to January 2020. And columnist Chris Young offers a set of guidelines for “designing through” the supply chain pain.
We have an article by Malcolm Thompson of NextFlex, who discusses some of the innovation that has come out of the chip shortage. We also have another installment of Anaya Vardya’s DFM101 series. And we have columns from our regular contributors Barry Olney, Matt Stevenson, Tim Haag, Dave Wiens, Joe Fjelstad, and Beth Massey and Beth Turner. Let’s welcome Trina Taylor, guest columnist for Sunstone Circuits this month.
Hard to believe that summer is almost over, and that means trade show season is just around the corner. I hope to see you on the road.