Assemblers Play “Revise or Wait” Game with Designers

Assemblers Play “Revise or Wait” Game with Designers

Assemblers Play “Revise or Wait” Game with Designers

By Nolan Johnson

Nolan Johnson recently spoke with Duane Benson of Milwaukie Electronics and Screaming Circuits. Duane pointed to a tendency to move design to production, which he called “revise or wait.” This excerpt provides insight into our exploration of similar topics involving supply chain issues, lead times and continued progress despite supply challenges.

Nolan Johnson: Duane, the idea of ​​”review or wait” is interesting. Tell me more.

Duan Benson: It really is. I keep coming back to the old “build or buy” idea. You see, there are people who say, “I can design this little module much better than anyone else. But there are also sub-modules that nobody designs; hardly anyone designs their own Bluetooth or Wi-Fi section of their circuit, for example. Instead, you buy a module. You have that decision, though: are you going to build it or are you going to buy it?

The “revise or wait” design methodology is very similar, except instead of playing against your ability to design something better, you’re playing against the supply chain. We have suppliers who say that certain components have been out for 52 weeks, and then they tell us that they will be late even for that waiting time. We can’t even ask about expediting fees until those 52 weeks are up. So what are you doing?

Well, maybe you’ve designed one of those awesome new little power supply components that halve the size of your power supply; you don’t want to give that up. But is it worth waiting another year for your design to hit the market? Sometimes the redesign will propagate off the board, throughout the system, and all the way to packaging, but you need to make this decision because a significant advantage over your competitors could be at stake.

The fun part, of course, comes when the parts manufacturer quotes you over 52 weeks, and you spend a month redesigning a tiny bit of the circuit, refitting it, and getting a few prototypes made – only to ask the manufacturer original to surprise you by saying, “Oh, by the way, we got a fabulous ability early on. So all those parts we said you could never get? Here’s a bunch.

This is absolutely the world we live in. Whether we like it or not, that’s where we are right now, and we have to be ready to make those kinds of decisions. But trade-offs really are a big part of the engineering world’s stock in trade. “Revise or wait” is just another name for what we always do: create great things out of chaos.

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