‘The Foibles and Strengths of People’


A reader commented that he liked the Patty and The Professor stories for their technical content, but he felt there was “too much story.” So, I feel an explanation for why I think the “story” part is important.

Manufacturing is accomplished by integrating people, processes, equipment, materials, components and so forth.  Most of our discussion on improving electronic assembly in blogs and other media, focuses on materials, equipment, processes, BGAs, QFPs, lead finishes, PWBs, etc. Look back at the first sentence and compare it to the second sentence. The thing we seldom discuss in examining ways to improve quality and productivity in our electronic assembly processes are the foibles and strengths of people.

Let’s explore the people aspect of electronics assembly by way of two examples, ACME and AJAX. ACME has the best equipment, the processes have been optimized by designed experiments to produce outstanding quality, and they use the best materials. AJAX has similar things going for it. However, at the end of the year, AJAX has noticeably greater productivity and profit.

What is the difference? People.

At AJAX, the workers have an understanding of the importance of productivity and a passion for their role in it. As a result, a stencil is seldom misplaced and a component placement machine is almost never without components in the feeders. In the long run, this type of attention adds up to 10% or so greater productivity and perhaps 20% greater profit.

This is why when Patty, Pete, The Professor and now Rob, are on an adventure, they clearly focus on the technical issues, but never fail to catch the people issues, too.

And so it is with all of us, people are our greatest resource.


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.

3 thoughts on “‘The Foibles and Strengths of People’

  1. Right on, Ron! A company’s most valuable asset is its people. We invest in training for them, and rely on them. Never estimate the power of motivated people.

  2. Well said, look how destructive the ‘us and them’ (workers and management) attitude was within British manufacturing in the late 70’s, to the difference now (well whats left of British manufacturing).

  3. I have to tell you Ron,

    I look forward to reading your stories. Every time I receive the newsletter, I look to see if there is a new one from you. I have been in the industry since 90, at first for a huge global corporation, then for a three man start up that is up to 35 or so people now. The reason I enjoy your stories is they remind me of real life situations. In a time when things are a bit unsure, it is nice to read something containing personal experience written by someone with a sense of humor.

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