Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
The PCIF's design-led drive
The PCIF's design-led drive
Keywords Printed circuit boards, Electronics industry, ADE
Many Circuit World readers will already know about the newly formed Association of Printed Circuit Board Design Engineers (ADE) the initiative officially launched in January 1999. The Association's aims are to recognise an important group of engineers in our industry who have, in many respects, been left in a backwater for too long, and to give them a focal point. The ADE has unlocked much enthusiasm and energy, spawning four new chapters in different parts of the country with two more currently being considered. Many significant players in the industry have contributed much time and effort to launch this initiative.
The fact that this new group has had to be formed highlights the disparity between the UK industry and its foreign counterparts. Certainly in the USA, the IPC has encouraged the design-led aspects and has included the OEMs in their membership list; the same is true in Japan with the JPCA where, in many cases, they have the added advantage of vertically integrated organisations. It is clear that the whole-hearted inclusion of the OEM influence, and due respect for the design element in the dialogue between PCB fabricators and the EMS (electronic manufacturing services) provides a more useful combination in the quest for efficient "design for manufacture" than without them.
There is a new move to expand the existing available training for designers and others by introducing a novel initiative and a full training and accreditation programme employing the assistance of the IPC in the USA. This will be based at both the Scottish Advanced Manufacturing Centre (SAMC) in Livingstone and Inpaq in Newbury. At the preliminary meeting with Gary Ferrari of the IPC in Scotland, both Willy Campbell of the SAMC and Tony Burgess of Inpaq found that the training format adopted by the IPC was a close match to those planned for the UK. This has the advantage of significantly shortening the timescale before the introduction of the new courses, starting in September 1999 rather than a year later. The aim of this programme is to improve the status of the designers by giving them a proper ladder of qualification and reassuring employers about an individual's capabilities. The spin-offs being more efficient designs for the benefit of the whole industry and a more meaningful salary structure.
The IPC found that there was a need to sell the importance of accreditation to the senior managers of industry in the USA, to provide the necessary impetus for the programme; the same will be needed here. The electronics industry in the UK is growing at such a rate that brave initiatives are essential to avoid the limitation of that expansion by skill shortages. The driving force for these managers should be the need to adopt measures that address this problem in an effective manner. The unpopularity of science and technology with today's younger generation has to be overcome. Our society is hugely dependent on electronics and it must find ways of attracting young minds to invest time and ingenuity in the electronics industry; the commitment must come from the top.
The ADE has been formed to assist this crusade and its message is burning brightly.
For further information consult the PCIF Web-site or call Frank Coultard at the PCIF.
Frank CoultardTechnical Director, PCIF