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Valor eases design with collaborative tool

Posted: 16 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Valor Computerized Systems? DFM? vShare? PCB design? DFM?

Designing manufacturable PCBs requires collaboration across a supply chain that's often geographically distributed. To make that process easier, Valor Computerized Systems Ltd will roll out vShare, a design-for-manufacturing (DFM) "collaboration solution" for board designers and manufacturers.

The intent of vShare is to provide a centralized, scalable platform with secure access to DFM-related design information, including design reviews, design changes and manufacturing sign-off. It works with either of two Valor DFM tools: Enterprise 3000, which targets PCB design environments, and Trilogy 5000, a preproduction engineering tool for board manufacturers.

According to Julian Coates, executive VP for product development and marketing at Valor, vShare is an open collaboration platform that communicates DFM analysis results out to the supply chain, beyond the department of the engineers who are running the DFM analysis. "It provides a structured process for getting manufacturing sign-off on the design."

Today, Coates said, managing DFM data is a "highly unstructured process" based on informal communications and is thus not traceable. He pointed out that system managers will organize the data inside vShare's relational database so that remote users can log on, review results, add comments and document decisions. Supply chain users may include design, process and component engineers, and product managersin short, "anybody who needs to participate in the process of deciding what to do in order to make a design ready for high-yield volume manufacturing," he noted.

According to Coates, board design engineers would use vShare to review DFM analyses. The engineer might approve what a DFM analysis has found or determine that an engineering change is needed, and thus create a new version of the PCB to submit to the DFM process.

vShare's system of "rights and privileges" allows managers to control who can collaborate on which designs, Coates noted. Users can't change designs directly through vShare, he adds, because it doesn't store the IP of the design. Rather, vShare stores the results of analysis.

The input to vShare includes results imported from Valor's DFM analysis tools, as well as third-party graphical or text objects. The platform can generate reports in textual or graphical style. The reports document critical steps, project status and details, and final approvals. The project manager can assign projects, actions or issues to individuals, and monitor events until a complete sign-off is attained.

Coates noted that vShare users can also extract statistics that measure how many changes and iterations were necessary to produce a manufacturable product. It thus provides a "traceable" process that lets managers measure DFM effectiveness, he said.

One task that remains is connecting vShare to product life cycle management (PLM) systems. That's a "second phase" effort for the new product, Coates said. "vShare is putting structure on the process of manufacturing sign-off," and a link to PLM will close the loop.

Now in beta test, vShape is set for general release in December. Pricing will start at $25,000 for a site license.

- Richard Goering
EE Times

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