Rating World-Class Productivity


The impetus for writing the Patty and the Professor series came from my observations that many assemblers were not very focused on productivity. Productivity seemed to be an afterthought. Since then little has changed. This conclusion seems astounding, since all assemblers are in business to make a profit.

In light of this situation, I have developed 10 questions, valued at 10 points each, to help assemblers assess their profitability potential. If you work for a printed circuit board assembler, take this quiz and see how you rate:

  1. Although quality may be job 1, our company has a strong focus on productivity. At all levels everyone understands that, when the line is down, we are not making money.
  2. We have a practice, understood by all, that if a line is down more than a specified amount of amount time, the line down situation is escalated through the management chain.
  3. All of our operators, technicians, and engineers have been trained in procedures to assure the minimum amount of downtime.
  4. We measure and graph our line uptime and other productivity metrics.  Everyone knows the approximate value of these metrics.
  5. Our component placement machines are time balanced.
  6. We use feeder racks and other preparation devices to prepare for the next job while the current job(s) are running.
  7. A major consideration in the purchase of our assembly equipment is its effect on productivity, not the equipment’s cost alone.
  8. A major consideration in the purchase of our assembly materials, such as solder paste, is its effect on productivity (e.g. poor paste response to pause would be a strong rejection criteria,) not the material’s cost alone.
  9. We us productivity and cost metrics, such as non-material assembly per I/O assembled (NMAC/I/O), to track our performance.
  10. We understand that sometimes an added expense, such as solder preforms, can actually reduce the total cost and increase productivity and profitability.


  • World Class: ? 90
  • Above Average: 75 – 89
  • Average:  55 – 74
  • Below Average: < 55

How did you do?  Let me know what you think. We hope to have this online soon.

Best Wishes,

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.