Emily Newton’s picture

By: Emily Newton

The demand for printed circuit boards (PCBs) will only increase until a superior technology comes of age. The global market for PCBs could rise to $72.3 billion by 2026. PCBs have become essential everywhere, from infrastructure to consumer products.

The overwhelming demand for PCBs for the internet of things (IoT), automotive and aerospace products, healthcare devices, and general manufacturing makes PCB quality control supremely important. With demand being what it is, manufacturers must find every method at their disposal to make quality consistent and rework nonexistent.

Here’s a summary of the most common PCB inspection protocols and what they offer:

William A. Levinson’s picture

By: William A. Levinson

Corrective action and preventive action (CAPA) is probably the most important process in any quality management system because so much else depends on it. This includes not only its traditional role as a response to defects, nonconformances, customer complaints, and audit findings, but also outputs of the management review. It can even address all seven Toyota production system wastes if we redefine as a “nonconformance” any gap between the current state and a potential or desirable future state. AIAG’s CQI-22, Cost of Poor Quality Guide1, recommends that we compare “the ideal state for how work processes should perform” against “the current reality.”

Inadequate CAPA is a leading source of ISO 9001:20152 and IATF 16949:20163 findings, and FDA Form 483 citations.4 “Five Signs Your Company Is in Dire Need of Root Cause Analysis and Corrective Action Training” reinforces this point even further.5 While ISO 9001:2015 doesn’t have a specific requirement for preventive action, one could argue that clause 6.1.1 (c), “prevent, or reduce, undesired effects,” constitutes an implied requirement.

Ann Brady’s default image

By: Ann Brady

Few of us today are unaware of the significance of cybersecurity and the threat of cyberattacks on our computers, smartphones, and other devices. We’re constantly reminded never to disclose passwords and to be on the lookout for spam and phishing emails that attempt to manipulate us into divulging personal information—such as those passwords, bank details, Social Security, or medical information. 

This form of identity theft, although troubling, becomes even more sinister when it’s directed at governments and other major institutions. “Seeing is deceiving” is the tagline of a popular BBC TV series, The Capture, which explores the effect of deepfake technology—described as the 21st-century’s answer to Photoshop—i.e., threatening national security, shaking the foundations of state, destroying trust, and making us doubt reality.  

Far-fetched in many respects, perhaps, but as we move deeper into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the show highlights the potential risks and threats from rapidly changing and ever-more-sophisticated technologies.  

The global cost of cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. 

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

While I was reminiscing about National Take Your Dog to Work Day, a light-hearted conversation with colleagues led me to ponder how our furry friends might actually inspire people to reach new heights of excellence. But what business insights can we possibly gain from creatures who spend at least 50 percent of their day sleeping and loafing around?

Scott Ginsberg’s picture

By: Scott Ginsberg

We’re told the cardinal rule of the internet is, “Never read the comments.” This catchphrase is used to warn users of the toxic parts of the internet. One minute you’re sharing an article, photo, or video that you’re proud of. The next moment, dozens or even hundreds of comments snowball into a whirling mess of meanness.

I’ve published my writing online for more than 20 years now, and I can attest that reading the comments absolutely has the power to make you doubt yourself and lose all faith in humanity.

True story: I remember one of my readers commented that I was “nuttier than a bag of trail mix.” That destroyed me for an entire month.

However, communicating within a manufacturing company is a different arena.

When your goal is to continuously improve, empower frontline workers, and transform the company for the better, one of the best habits to get into is reading the comments—not in suggestion boxes, sticky notes, dry-erase boards, or clipboards, but with accessible and engaging digital devices.

Tom Spendlove’s picture

By: Tom Spendlove

Simulation is a necessity for automotive companies in the 21st century, and there’s pressure to use more of it for many reasons: 1) Electrification produces more heat sources that need CFD and thermal analysis to design dissipation strategies; 2) industrywide moves toward minimal or “zero” prototype builds make crashworthiness and structural simulation more important; 3) advanced driver automation systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles require constant data collection and processing via simulation; and 4) smart connected systems in a car have increased the number of chips and the need for electronic system design (ESD) and simulation.

The engineers at VI-Grade are especially keen to move the industry toward zero prototypes. The German simulation and driving simulator company even has a yearly event called the ZERO PROTOTYPES Summit. To help bring this future to fruition, earlier this quarter VI-Grade announced AutoHawk for the North American market, a hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) simulation platform. The company hopes the tool will reduce prototypes because the simulators are highly configurable and can therefore meet the validation needs of internal combustion engines, electric vehicles, and many other customer and consumer use cases.

Javeria Salman’s picture

By: Javeria Salman

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America are better known for homework help and volunteering opportunities than for cutting-edge career development. But ask the kids in some of the Boys & Girls Clubs across states such as Indiana, Montana, and Washington, and they might say they’re surrounded by high-tech tools that help them envision their future.

Lana Taylor, executive director of the Indiana Alliance of the Boys & Girls Clubs, says her staff began to look for ways to reengage students—especially middle schoolers—as the pandemic eased and kids returned to in-person programs. Since most kids love technology and hands-on learning, Taylor thought it was only natural to develop programming that uses both.

In February 2022, the Indiana Boys & Girls Clubs launched a partnership with immersive technology startup Transfr to introduce students in 10 of its clubs to new career and workforce opportunities. The collaboration dovetailed with a new emphasis on workforce readiness at the Indiana Department of Education. Now, the partnership between Transfr and the clubs is expanding to 21 additional clubs across Indiana, thanks to a grant from the state.

Angie Basiouny’s picture

By: Angie Basiouny

In the hustle of a busy hospital emergency department, teams of doctors and nurses react quickly to determine whether a patient needs to be admitted, referred, or released. Providing such complex care requires a high degree of skill and seamless teamwork, the kind that usually comes from years of working together.

But like many modern workplaces, emergency departments are staffed based on availability—not familiarity. During any given shift, it’s quite possible that the attending physician, residents, and nurses barely know each other.

In her latest paper, Wharton professor of operations, information, and decisions Hummy Song investigates how this ad hoc assignment strategy affects the overall performance of temporary teams, and why the role of each team member matters. Previous research has neatly established that when members are more familiar with each other, they perform better. But Song’s research examines performance under a different microscope: What happens when attending doctors, residents, and nurses—colleagues with differing skills and authority—are thrown together to accomplish a task?

Vahed Qazvinian’s picture

By: Vahed Qazvinian

Yearly, employers typically spend $3,000 to $15,000 on employee satisfaction surveys, hoping to detect if an employee has plans to leave the company. Despite that, research has shown that only 33 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged at work, while 45 percent consider their work an emotional drain.

Employee attrition costs to companies are less modest. They are estimated to be more than $1 trillion annually in the U.S., and replacing a resigned employee might cost anywhere between 60 and 200 percent of the employee's annual compensation.

Beyond the monetary aspect, the attrition rate directly and tangibly affects business expansion, weakens the brand, degrades corporate culture, and lowers employee morale.

Joshua Sadlock’s picture

By: Joshua Sadlock

Yup, that’s me in the photo. You’re probably wondering how I ended up hanging under a bridge over the Mississippi River. I’m a certified bridge safety inspector.

If you have questions after seeing people hanging under a bridge, in a basket suspended from the long arm of a truck, or have seen people crawling over the steel structure with seemingly nothing preventing them from falling off, I’ve got some answers.

After a long ride in a windowless van with 10 other people into the middle of Louisiana, a scramble over a barrier, I go down a ladder to get on a pier of the Horace Wilkinson Bridge on Interstate I-10, which carries traffic in and out of Baton Rouge. In order for it to continue to do so, the bridge will undergo a rigorous inspection. Our team will spend the next two weeks climbing and crawling over every single inch of the 54-year-old “new bridge,” as it is referred to by locals.

There’s nothing glamorous about bridge inspection—especially during July in Louisiana—but, in the interest of public safety, we carry on.


Making my way out of a shallower floor beam using beam clamps

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