June 15, 2018

Better Boards Make Better Birds for the Air Force

Companies that design printed circuit boards historically have contracted with suppliers to build and test them. Inevitably, issues arise during manufacturing that necessitate design changes to the PCBs. But lacking a standard way to communicate those changes, ad-hoc and inefficient methods such as emails and phone calls are often used to relay those design changes. The manual transcription and re-entry of new data—and the attendant errors—mean wasted time and money for all parties.


Aerospace and global security company Lockheed Martin was awarded a project by MxD to address this issue and lead the PCB industry into the digital age. They partnered with several organizations across the PCB lifecycle to successfully manufacture three new printed circuit boards at different locations, all within the guidelines of a newly created standard. This open neutral global standard is known to industry insiders as IPC-2581. One of the participants observed that the lessons on collaboration learned through this project could easily serve as a guide to other MxD members trying to replace old or manual steps with new standards and digital processes. For Lockheed Martin and its supply chain, this project translated into better boards, and ultimately for the Air Force, better birds.