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PCB West: interview with NBS Design Inc.: Craig Arcuri talks about the company credo; passion, quality and speed, that translates into end product perfection.

PCB WEST MOVED to its new venue in Santa Clara, CA, this past September. The program did not disappoint as organizers and sponsors expanded it to include new classes and a plant tour. The exhibit hall sold out, and the attendees networked throughout the week, spending time in tutorials and workshops and perusing the exhibits.

UP Media Group launched the UPstudio to provide coverage of the conference. At the close of the 2-day exhibition, there was an in-depth shop tour of NBS Design Inc. It was conducted by president and CEO Craig Arcuri and supported by his talented team. Highlights of the tour can be seen at

I had a chance to speak with the very charismatic Craig Arcuri before the tour to learn a bit more about the company. Mr. Arcuri provided some interesting insight into NBS Design employees and how the company has become so successful.


PCD&F: I've heard NBS has the motto, "Passion, Quality, Speed." Could you elaborate on that?

Craig Arcuri: Simply put, it is the collective passion of the company that creates the environment that allows for the quality and speed. It is the root, and without the passion to build a perfect product every time, consistent quality is impossible to achieve. NBS has been described as fanatical about quality. This comes from passion. We can and do expect every board of every build to be perfect.

You can quickly see by looking at our facility that we have an extreme attention to detail in every aspect of our business. The facility is spotless. The manufacturing flow is seamless. A typical assembly line 'change over' is measured in minutes; ours is measured in seconds, because time is a critical component to our success.

I could go on and on, but one look at how NBS employees approach their jobs, and the tools the company has provided, with an absolute passion from the top on down to build perfect boards explains why we have been successful.

We aim to be absolutely world class in every respect.

PCD&F: Tell me about DfA at NBS. Is it a fact that when design and assembly teams are co-located, communication improves and yields go up?

Craig Arcuri: Yes, yields do go up, and with this integration done correctly, they go up substantially.

NBS pioneered a DfA/DfM process called Continuous Validation. Traditionally, after a PCB layout is completed, a final DfM/DfA check is run. The problem with this approach is that in most cases, there is little time available to fix the things that the manufacturability check finds.

Even more critical, serious errors that are found and must be fixed cause big schedule hits because the fixes require the layout to be redone. In the NBS Continuous Validation process, the layout undergoes four to six DfM/DfA checks at each critical stage of the layout process. Not only does this have a great positive impact on yield, but also it adds no time to the process because theses checks are done in parallel with layout, and when errors are found, they are fixed before they can impact the schedule.

Another byproduct of Continuous Validation is that engineering and manufacturing teams never get to the point of disagreeing because they are working together from the start, and potential issues are mitigated immediately rather then waiting until the end of the layout process.

PCD&F: As a design company, what are some of the other tangible advantages of having an in-house assembly operation?

Craig Arcuri: Higher yield, faster turn around times, consistent results and long-term product reliability come to mind.

Often when I am doing a tour of NBS for a perspective customer, this is reinforced when I get to the layout room and see not one but several of our manufacturing process engineers sitting side-by-side with our layout engineers, creating a solution to a layout/manufacturing challenge.

Also, each of designers has had to spend many weeks actually on the assembly floor working for the production staff. They have gotten to 'feel the pain' of hand installing hundreds of jumpers on a poorly marked board, then having to go back and move those jumpers to the correct location after AOI discovers their error. Believe me, after you do this once or twice, you work very hard to make sure that the silkscreen on a board is clear!

PCD&F: How many customers do you have?

Craig Arcuri: The typical assembly shop desires to have a small number of large customers. At NBS our infrastructure was set up from the beginning to handle hundreds of customers of all sizes. This fiscal year, we have approximately 175 active customers, ranging from $75 to over $5M. Next year we expect that to double.

PCD&F: There are hundreds of contract manufactures out there. Your firm continues to do incredibly well, so what really makes NBS so unique in the market?

Craig Arcuri: I've been asked that question many times, and I wish I could come up with an incredibly complicated answer or provide some evidence of a proprietary process that is unique to NBS and nobody else.

What makes NBS grow continuously in this extremely competitive market is the decisions that have been made and the willpower to stick with it. When we looked at starting the manufacturing operation, we looked at all of the associated tasks that go along with manufacturing such as rework, process engineering, PCB layout, AOI inspection, Xray inspection, etc. We decided that we wanted to not just do those things but to be the absolute best in the industry in each area. Take that decision, the top of the line equipment selection that we've chosen, add the best people in each area of production and combine it with an around-the-clock, never-say-uncle service mentality and passion for quality and you get NBS.

All of those things together wrapped up in one company turn out to be one beck of a combination. And again, I feel silly saying it, but it is just incredibly difficult to find an organization with all that in one company.

PCD&F extends a thank you to NBS Design, Arcuri and the entire NBS Staff for sharing your time and vision with us and the PCB West attendees.

Based in Santa Clara, California, NBS Design was founded in 1999 as a PCB layout specialist. Over the past 10 years, a team of highly skilled technicians has come together to provide not only PCB layout but turnkey manufacturing solutions including NPI to Pilot Production, manufacturing test, and rework.

According to Craig Arcuri, president and CEO of NBS Design, "We created NBS to overcome the limitations that traditionally govern the EMS industry. Rejecting the example set by legacy manufacturers, we brought together a team with decades of experience in contract manufacturing and electronics assembly. We set out to re-write the rules, and this is exactly what we have done."
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Title Annotation:FROM THE FIELD
Author:Nargi-Toth, Kathy
Publication:Printed Circuit Design & Fab
Article Type:Interview
Date:Nov 1, 2008
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