Time to prioritise revision control

Nano Electronic Services emphasises using a robust version control process to ensure purchasers know exactly what to buy and manufacturers know exactly what to make 

One of the biggest bugbears for electronics manufacturing companies is revision control. Too often manufacturers receive a new bill-of-materials, named identically to the previous one, but with changes. It leads to confusion, extra effort and potential production errors.

By the time prototypes have been produced, NPI concluded and products are in production, everything should be sorted. However, what about the early stages? It’s a good habit to get into.

Revision control is easy to do but is often forgotten or lost in the pressure to complete a design. However, a few minutes extra work, can save manufacturing staff hours of head scratching.

Here is an example of a simple revision control:

  • PCB Job ABC Rev 0.1: power board
  • Rev 0.2: added R63, changed C1 to 100nF
  • Rev 0.3: J1 removed
  • Rev 1.0: Released for prototype

This lets manufacturers easily identify changes, rather than comparing two BoMs with the potential for error. Changes can be seen at a glance. Plus, when building boards, the latest revision is easily identified as a sanity check. The same for PCB data. The revision can be added to the data file, silk screen or a copper layer. Some customers use different solder mask colours to denote major design revisions (red for proto, blue for NPI, green for production).