Judy Warner
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Judy Warner

Judy Warner is the western regional and RF/microwave market director of business development for Zentech Manufacturing, a contract manufacturer that offers fully integrated supply chain solutions for mil/aero, RF/microwave and medical markets. Zentech is based in Baltimore, MD near the high technology corridor of the Mid-Atlantic/Pentagon region. Judy has over 20 years of experience in the electronics industry, and has spent the past four years focused exclusively on RF and Microwave technology solutions. Judy also sits on the advisory board of eSurface technologies and contributes articles to a variety of microwave and electronic industry trade publications, including 3 years as a contributing guest blogger for Microwave Journal.

Slowing down to Speed Up

April 16, 2013

Did I Say that Already?

Its official: I have become my parents. Everything I swore I would never do or say—I do all the time. It is beyond annoying! Lately, I catch myself repeating myself, or telling the same story, to the same person…Argh!  I feel the exasperation of my 16-year-old-alter-ego rolling her eyes and sighing hopelessly. That being said, I’m about to do it again and you will be my latest victim. Sorry.  I guess now I understand what my folks meant when they used to say “some things bear repeating.”

A few blog posts back, I mentioned John Wooden, the famed UCLA coach, telling his players to “be quick, but don’t hurry.” Well, I’m saying it again, because when it comes to RF/MW PCBs, it bears repeating. I will do my best to make my case in a fresh way, so I don’t sound like I’m in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Time Well Spent

Hurry UpA couple of weeks ago I had a meeting with an engineer from a well-known defense contractor. It was our first meeting. As she began to describe what she was trying to accomplish with an upcoming challenging board design, she explained that she wanted to meet with me so that she would be sure to create a sound design, keeping our process controls in mind. In other words, she wanted to collaborate in the early stages of design, so we could ensure the best outcome. She knew if she spent a little time upfront discussing key issues with her manufacturing partner, she would ultimately save a significant amount of time and money. Furthermore, she knew the time spent would pay her back, in spades, in the form of board reliability and critical consistency when manufacturing it in larger volumes.

She slowed down in order to speed up--being quick, but not hurrying. 

Needless to say, when she stated her intentions, I nearly fell out of my chair. I thought the heavens might open-up, right over that conference room, and the angels would begin singing the Hallelujah chorus.  Afterwards, when I told her that I write a blog for Microwave Journal and that I wanted to feature her forward-thinking in a blog post—she said she knew about my blog, because she reads it. (So, she’s the one!) It was a good day for me, all around.

Collaborating with Collaborators

So why take up precious time to repeat myself here? Well, because the value and power of partnerships and collaboration cannot be overstated. Not only do we offer expert collaboration for our customers, here at Transline, we also look to others with expertise to learn from as well.

One such expert is Michael Ingham of Spectrum Integrity, a highly talented RF/MW and High Performance designer. Michael has taught us a lot about the needs and concerns of RF/MW engineers and layout professionals who create high performance boards. Michael shares our intrinsic understanding that collaboration offers massive value to customers. For this reason, He and I gave a talk (over a year ago) about navigating the pitfalls of RF/MW and High Performance PCB Design and Fab (at PCB West)—offering our collective expertise to our audience. We illustrated how helpful it can be for a designer and fabricator to work together, early in the design process, in order to get optimal results. Over 100 people attended, letting us know that people were hungry for what we offered.

Here is the white paper we co-authored that covers the conference information:


Spend Time to Save Time

This whole idea seems counterintuitive in an industry which lives or dies by the speed of which we get technologies to market. However, the cost of time spent by not doing it is far greater! If you design a board that is not practical to build, you may have to spin it again. If you consistently and needlessly push the limits of manufacturing, you will probably have poor yields, which drives up the cost. Sometimes those failures are not evident until after a board is populated with very expensive components that have to be trashed—costing large amounts of money, time or both. The stakes are high and I don’t believe we can afford to be hasty. So go ahead—be quick, just don’t hurry! (It’s worth noting that the engineer I described earlier is a VERY busy person; one that is often asked to run to Washington D.C. at the drop of a hat and who’s schedule is full and disruptive).

Fruits of Collaboration

This week, I wanted share the experience I enjoyed with Jessica, the wonderful engineer I described above, and with Michael Ingham. We also enjoy collaborative relationships with our friends at Rogers Corp., Microwave Journal and SLN marketing communications—just to name a few.  We can’t all be experts at everything, so collaboration is the life-blood of success in a complex industry like RF/Microwave.  I hope these stories, along with the resources below encourage you to join us in seeking new ways to collaborate, and to slow down (just a little) in service of getting it right long-term.

Here is a slideshow we created with the help of Rogers Corporation, who helped us to develop our fusion bonding capability: See Optimizing…Lamination http://www.slideshare.net/jmbwarner

Here is a promotion SLN and Transline created together for the IMS show last year (Stay tuned we are launching Road to IMS Seattle soon!) http://www.landingportal.com/IMSpassport/

When forming relationships based on collaboration, we always need to be cautious and wise. Otherwise, we run the risk of being taking advantage of by those with no intention to reciprocate. Some people have a nasty habit of sucking off valuable knowledge, stealing your intellectual property then moving on. In our culture, we’ve come to believe that all information is free for the taking. In business relationships, however, mutual benefits must exist for collaboration to work and thrive. So be cautious about not giving away your know-how too freely.  Your expertise is highly valuable and has taken years and much discipline to gain. Trust must be earned, over-time, in the context of meaningful collaboration that holds reciprocal benefits.

Here is a great article for the wise: http://salesaerobicsforengineersblog.com/2013/04/09/something-for-nothing-syndrome/

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