It's always good to visit with our customers and see what's new and where we can help further with getting their products to market as efficiently as possible. I recently took a trip to Hong Kong to visit with a customer who has many new projects lined up in the near future. It was great to see so many of my previous designs in action and to soak up some of the vibrant enthusiasm for business over there in the BIG city. It is so valuable to be able to see first-hand both the challenges facing a customer and the successes of our previous collaborations.
As well as working out some very neat PCB layout design ideas to take forward into the upcoming projects I also got the chance to visit a PCB assembly plant in China. All we ever seem to read over here are negative headlines about Chinese manufacturing but while the Health & Safety aspects may not quite compare to the UK (!) they have a lot of pride in their work, there is a lot of very hard work going on and the end results were some pretty immaculate PCBs.
I have been working on some VERY big LED PCBs over the past few years, and you could definitely say that my face lit up when I saw them powered up! It's sometimes hard to get a feeling of scale when working on CAD, and whereas I'm normally shocked at how small my layouts are in 'real-life' this time I was surprised at how large the boards are! It was no wonder that I had to upgrade the RAM on my PC when it came to adding the copper flooding for these boards...
With so many of our customers being international I don't often get the chance to actually visit sites, see our designs up-and-running and chat about the engineering pressures and successes. The better I understand a customer and their processes the better I can tailor their designs to suit. One short visit can save days of design work, emails and phone calls.