Can PCB Design Software Eliminate Human Errors?

There have been some significant advances in terms of PCB design software in recent years, however, is it not full proof to eliminate any human errors?  Unfortunately, it is not there yet and any software that claimed to 100% remove human errors would be a major success.  Although there have been significant improvements in this field that have made human errors reduced, there is software that is yet to claim this in totality.  Even the best PCB design software isn’t there just yet.  Some of the improvements that have been made (and some of the things a designer can do) to reduce human error is as follows:


Get back to basics where designers are expected to do a level of design proofing using tools such as DFMEA.  Design Failure Mode EffectAnalysis is a tool that is used by the design community in order to identify and counteract failures with the critical features on the component.  This takes some time to do and sometimes there are design timeline constraints, however, by not doing this sort of activity you are opening yourself up to potential failures downstream.  If then an effective DMFEA is completed you can pass this information on to the manufactures who may wish to complete a PFMEA which stands for Process Failure Mode Effect Analysis.  A lot of this will be based on the complexity of the component that is being made and the volume of it.  In addition to this, the criticality to safety will also play an important factor in this.  If you are making critical parts that could affect safety, for example, aero-engines then the expectations would be that these sorts of activities are completed as if the items fail in service it would have significant consequences (and could even be life-threatening).

Assembly Runs – Simulations

There has been the option for some time now on CAD PCB design software for designers to run simulation runs.  What this effectively means is that when the designer has completed the design they have the option of running this either as a sub-assembly or as an assembled unit through a simulation.  If through this simulation the result is that there is some sort of error, the simulation will throw up this fault.  What it won’t then do is give the designer an option to resolve and the designer will still need to then re-look at his design to take corrective action.  Unfortunately, the design simulation tool is not capable of picking up all the faults, however, it certainly is a good indicator.  Taking the time out to actually run these sort of simulations is important as when the print is released to manufacture and they manufacture hundreds or thousands that are then deemed not fit for purpose due to the design flaws, the design community would be expected to “carry the can” in terms of liability. 
While there is still room for human error, the risk has decreased a lot over the years.


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