Patty’s ‘Copy Exactly’ Meeting


Patty is getting ready for her meeting on “Copy Exactly” with Mike Madigan.

It was after 6:30 PM, and Patty was just arriving home. Since Patty was working late, Rob had agreed to make his signature dish: crispy macaroni and cheese. Patty and Pete had just finished their project to develop a copy exactly strategy for ACME. They would present it tomorrow to CEO Mike Madigan. The local GM, Sam Watkins, would be there too. Technically Mike was her boss in her Senior VP position, but since she had an office at the ACME facility in Exeter, NH, she reported to Sam – “dotted line.” Patty had been working late for weeks on this project and was glad that the greatest portion of the work was over.

As she opened the door to her house, her twin two-year-old boys ran up to her in their excitement to see their mom and nearly knocked her over. She tussled with them for a few minutes and then went to give Rob a hug. He had the dinner on the table, and they all quickly sat down. Rob and Patty had a “no technology” rule at meals: no mobile phones, iPads, etc. Meal time was family time. After discussing the events of the day, Rob’s face lit up.

“I found out today that there is something we look at more than anything else,” Rob stated.

“OK, OK, let me guess,” Patty replied.

After a number of tries, she hadn’t gotten it.

Alright, I give up, Patty said with playful exasperation.

“Indium, or really Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), it is a transparent conductor of electricity. We look through it when we look at our computer, tablet or mobile phone screens. Think about it. For most of us we probably look through ITO for 8 to 10 hours a day. It’s like we have a love affair with the stuff,” Rob explained.

Patty almost choked on some of the mac and cheese on the last comment.

“Why have you become such an expert on this stuff?” Patty asked.

“Well, you remember that ACME may go into component assembly? Sam asked me to look into Indium thermal interface material (TIM) for some of the component packages that need to dissipate a lot of heat,” Rob answered.

Patty knew a little bit about TIMs, but not about ITO.

“But why did you learn about ITO?” she asked.

“Sam is worried that Indium supplies may not be enough to satisfy TIM requirements, so he asked me to look into it,” Rob answered.

“What is the conclusion? Patty asked.

“Well, Indium is about as common in the earth’s crust as silver, but a little more difficult to extract. This probably gives it the reputation of being rare. Fortunately for me, a recent analysis was performed that showed that the Indium supply will be more than adequate for the next 75 years,” Rob said.

Rob went on, “Indium is a very interesting material. It is one of the few materials that wets glass, so it enables metal sealing to glass. It was only discovered in 1863, and it wasn’t until the 1930s that the first practical use for indium was discovered: aircraft bearing lubrication. In a sense, it could be argued that it is one of the materials of the future, as we are just now learning about its potential.”

While he was talking, Rob reached into his backpack and took something out.

“Look at this, or rather listen,” Rob said.

With that, he took a thin bar of metal and bent it. A crackling sound came from the metal. Patty was fascinated.

“What was that?” she asked.

“When a thin bar of Indium is bent, it gives off a sound. It is called “Indium Cry.” The salesman for the TIMs we are using let me borrow it for a presentation I am giving to Sam Watkins next week,” Rob answered.

Dinner was soon finished and Patty had to get the boys to bed after playing with them for awhile. Today was Spanish day, and all of their discussions were in that language. Another day was Mandarin Chinese day. The boys already understood the three languages spoken at home.

A few hours later, Patty lay in bed, energized by the thought of her meeting tomorrow.

When she woke up the next day, she exercised at home, ate breakfast, and took the boys to day care. See arrived at the office 30 minutes before the big meeting. After checking emails, she went to the conference room where the meeting would be held, to set up her computer. At precisely 8 AM, Mike Madigan and Sam Watkins arrived.

“OK Coleman, let’s get this show on the road,” Madigan commanded.

“Since our last meeting, we have analyzed assembly equipment and materials to determine which ones would be best for a copy exactly strategy,” Patty began.

She then showed her third slide and spoke to it.

“The winner for component placement equipment is Optoplace, as are their stencil printer and reflow ovens. Exactotest makes the winning testers and ElectoMaterials the best solder paste and solder preforms,” Patty went on.

“Can you explain your methodology?” Sam asked.

“We looked at what The Professor calls ‘Profit Potential,’ simply the equipment and material that gives the most profit, assuming you are running a well tuned organization. Fortunately, since ACME has 80 assembly lines, we were able to get real process performance data on all of the major machines available,” Patty answered.

“You answer seems a little evasive. Why didn’t you use ‘Cost of Ownership?’” Madigan challenged.

“Some machines cost less to own, but they are down more for assists, and when they need repair, we have to wait longer for the repair man. From what The Professor taught us, uptime is very important. Anything that hurts uptime, like a late repairman or a machine that needs more assist time, will hurt profits. The same is true for materials like solder paste. If they cost less, but result in line downtime for response to pause issues or some other fault, they hurt profitability,” Patty responded.

Just then Sam’s administrative assistant, Clare Perkins opened the door.

“As you requested Mr. Madigan, your guest is joining the meeting,” Clare said.

“Well Torant, looks like Coleman said you lost,” Madigan said to the new arrival.

Upon seeing Rex Torant, Patty became a little unsettled, and Pete turned his famous crimson red. Patty and Pete called him “Rex the Torrent” as he spoke so rapidly when trying to sell them something. Both found this manufacturer’s “rep” annoying.

“Everyone, I invited Rex to the meeting. We met at the airport last night and started chatting. He assured me that his Pinnacle equipment line and Ultima solder paste would be the winners today since they have the lowest cost of ownership,” Madigan explained.

Torant saw the slide announce Optoplace, Exactotest and ElectoMaterials as the winners.

“My products are just as reliable and cost 30% a year less to own,” Torant fumed at Patty.
Patty had not anticipated Torant’s attendance at the meeting, but had prepared for this type of question.

“Mr. Torant is correct; however, Pinnacle’s component placement machines have more downtime for machine assists and, when the equipment does malfunction, it is down for repairs on average for 28 hrs, whereas Optoplace is only down for 14 hrs. All in all, Optoplace machines are up 6 hrs more a week in a two-shift operation,” Patty calmly responded.

Will Patty’s arguments win the day? Can a 30% more expensive machine really have more “Profit Potential?” And what about the solder paste and materials? Stay tuned.


Dr. Ron

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About Dr. Ron

Materials expert Dr. Ron Lasky is a professor of engineering and senior lecturer at Dartmouth, and senior technologist at Indium Corp. He has a Ph.D. in materials science from Cornell University, and is a prolific author and lecturer, having published more than 40 papers. He received the SMTA Founders Award in 2003.