Holistic Design Takes Hold

Sometimes, it’s pretty easy to spot design trends. The one I’m hearing a lot about lately is holistic design.

A couple years ago, it seemed like whenever I interviewed anyone in the transportation field, they were talking about the benefits of modeling and simulation. Now, design teams in this field are talking about holistic design.

The latest comments came during a Mentor Graphics aerospace conference. Martin O’Brien, general manager, Mentor Graphics, said, “Holistic design is truly necessary. It used to be optional, but not anymore.”

This isn’t a new concept. It’s been decades since managers said it was no longer possible for design teams to throw projects over the wall to manufacturing. But saying something and pushing it to the next level are two vastly different things.

The walls between design and manufacturing have faded, but we’re still a long ways from O’Brien’s view that test and manufacturing are considered before the first components are laid out on a circuit board. He, along with many others, are talking about design programs where hardware, software and mechanical engineers all take time to consider the impact their plans will have on others. Manufacturing and test engineers must also be included in these discussions.

The result will be far more efficient designs – with products that are easy to manufacture and test. Holistic designs can also shorten design cycles and costs. Not a bad payoff for simply talking with all the people who are involved in a project.

And speaking of holistic approaches to system development, IPC will host the IPC Electronic System Technologies Conference and Exhibition (ESTC), which runs May 20–23 in Las Vegas. At IPC ESTC, attendees will gain valuable insights into all areas of system technologies and have the opportunity to network with designers and engineers that work in all stages of the product lifecycle, from concept and design to manufacturing and test.

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