Does a dedicated librarian exist anymore at a company today?
From our observations, most companies do not have such a role. It is delegated to either a PCB designer or a group of engineers. Unfortunately, the responsibility of creating and organizing components is not simple or quick. Consider the following actions that must be done continually:
The creation of a component requires the following:
1. The designer must research a new component for use in the design.
2. The designer must research the component and determines if the part is viable.
- The component is not slated for obsolescence.
- The lead times for purchase are reasonable.
- The price works within budget.
3. The designer must capture key information. This includes downloading a spreadsheet, renaming it, and placing it in the proper folder. Research may require hours to days, depending on the complexity of the component.
4. When the designer chooses a component
- A symbol must be drawn or copied.
- A footprint must be drawn or copied.
- A 3D model must be drawn or added to the footprint.
- Component data must be added.
Components need to be stored consistently. This requires someone to maintain a system for such a purpose. This requires an ongoing effort.
- With over a billion components on the market, new components will always be added to the library.
- Components become obsolete. This information must be added manually to the library system.
- 3rd party components introduced into projects or into the library must be modified to conform with the library style.
This assumes that a robust structure was developed at the start.
Even for a small company, component creation and library management can be full-time jobs. It will always be neglected when assigned to a PCB layout designer or a group of engineers. The design takes priority. Rarely there is any extra time or downtime to address libraries. A design cannot be made without a library or components. This always leads to a 'misfit' library leading to:
- Missing deadline due to the wrong footprint on a PCB
- Ordering wrong components by procurement
- Missing time-to-market and on-time shipment
- Respinning of a board multiple times
- Recreating of symbols and footprints
Seeking A Librarian
- Re-designing due to unmanaged obsolete components
There comes a point in time when a company realizes that its library situation is a nightmare. Some decide to look for that elusive full-time "librarian" in the job market. Realistically, how many resumes contain the desired job description as a "librarian"? A job applicant indicates their component library knowledge to enhance their resume. They want to be hired either as a PCB designer or engineer. Though a librarian's function is critical, this role is short of being a career path killer. A full-time librarian will not be able to hone their skills in design or PCB layout.
Others may seek a third-party "bubblegum machine" solution. There are quite a few out there. These are websites that provide components upon request. These sites are automated and WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get.
The third-party bubblegum machine solution still requires someone within your company to maintain the libraries. There is no guarantee that the components being provided have been verified. It takes time to verify a component and to configure it to one's library setup. This is the same amount of time it would have taken you to create a new component.
Specifically, what would need to be modified or verified?
- Fonts, font sizes, and font colors
- Coloring of pins, boxes, text
- Verification of the pin number and name
- Orientation of the symbol and footprint
- Alignment of parameters to company-defined fields
- Formatting of parameters to company-defined fields
- Verification of parameter information
- Alignment of mechanical layers to company-defined layers
- Verification of courtyard and assembly layers to match company preferences
A Better Solution?
- Verification of the 3D model and replacement if a generic block is used
An on-demand librarian would be an excellent option. However, it requires an organization with a deep understanding of electrical components and engineering processes. It requires dealing with and managing libraries, which is neither trivial nor mundane. Ideally, it should have team members with prior industry experience that have dealt with various library setups and situations that bring insight and knowledge to a library.
Nine Dot Connects offers this service. We have done so for quite some time for several of our customers.
We offer this service as either a short-term or long-term contract. The length can range from quarterly, semi-annually, to annually. We would provide a primary librarian to a client for an agreed number of hours per week or month at a fixed fee. If additional hours are needed, they are charged at a fixed hourly rate. Here is a sample list of provided services:
- Creation of symbols and footprints
- Acquisition of 3D and simulation models
- Managing the centralized database library
- Ensuring quality control of the library (e.g., standard mechanical layer set, courtyard, etc.)
- Communication with engineers and designers across multiple locations
- Streamlining component management workflow
This program will provide a client with a dedicated librarian, so there is no need to compete for the librarian's time for other activities such as PCB layout or circuit design. Usually, we commit to 24 to 48 hours to create new components that the client needs.