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Pioneers Tryst with Quality

Author: Prof. Mitter Vedu


Synopsis At the time of independence India was predominantly an agricultural economy and the quality mindset was more aesthetic in nature than industrial being reflected in its time-honored art and culture. The ancient temples and their timeless sculptures exhibited fine artistic quality and soul-stirring eternal beauty. Indian craftsmanship was of a very high order and handloom textiles were of excellent quality. Independent India committed itself to turning its economy into an industrial economy with quality acquiring a new meaning; that of consistent utility in mass production. Statistics became important and Prof. PC Mahalanobis, FRS, (mentor to Dr Genichi Taguchi of Japan) was the pioneer in statistical mindset and taught both at University of Cambridge as well as Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, and guided The Planning Commission in significant ways. Having chosen the socialistic pattern in 1956 India missed Swiss precision and Japanese quality revolution almost till 1970. Even Crosby, Deming and Juran were not widely known in India thanks to the Permit-Licence Raj. Government policy heavily skewed in favor of public sector created State monopolies like ITI, BEL, HAL etc., which had no competition with a sheltered economy shielding them from international competition. However, the technological inputs from collaborators demanded a certain quality from suppliers and sub-contractors of these State enterprises who were in the private sector. Thus was triggered the quality movement in industry and business. Being a topper from school through my study at American college, Madurai, and later at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, I had a 100% mindset for quality in business. My 20 months stint in Switzerland ingrained in me a positive attitude for precision, besides an innovative bent of mind. The fast changing electronics field offered innumerable challenges honing further my quality mindset. By the latter half of 60s the demand for professional grade printed circuits commenced and Hegde & Golay (H&G) pioneered the manufacture of professional grade printed circuits on glass-epoxy laminates with plated through holes as well as multiple layers, heralding a new era in manufacture of professional electronics equipment ranging from calculators, computers, communication equipment to defence and space. I had the unique role of spearheading this technology as well as pioneering the manufacture of polymer thick film and chip-on-board ceramic, glass epoxy and polyimide circuits for the first time in the country. The following pages recount my story as a pioneer till 2014 over nearly fifty years of association with quality in electronic micro-packaging and production. It was an exciting journey cultivating self-reliance of the highest order in indigenous electronics manufacturing culminating in extraordinary capabilities in printed and hybrid circuits and electronic watches, besides leaving a legacy of world class quality and technology. As a core committee member of the DOE/BIS committee for quality I was instrumental in getting India into ISO 9000 series of standards. I had the opportunity to lead the total quality movement from 1981 to 2000 in a well-known South Indian business group. Besides pioneering ISO certification from 1991 in about sixteen companies I could also lead the Six Sigma and Business Process Re-engineering projects in several companies. Commensurate recognition followed by being elected Fellow of the Chartered Quality Institute (UK) and of the Indian Institution of Industrial Engineering. On retirement I continued my quality journey teaching MBA students in PES University and IIM Bangalore, besides helping Small & Medium enterprises in furthering the cause of competitive quality.

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The story

It was 1966 September. I had just conducted in my capacity as Member-Secretary of the All-India Students Anti-Hindi Agitation Council (in co-operation with Provash Ghosh of Calcutta and P. Srinivasan of Madras) the All-India Students Language Conference in Calcutta successfully with over 400 delegates from all over India, advocating the indefinite continuance of English as the Official Language of the Union by way of culmination of student mobilization ever since 1963. I had also finished and passed with flying colors my M. E., in Advanced Electronics at the Indian Institute of Science and was awaiting a possible enrolment for Ph.D.,. I had just vacated my room, the famous G9, Mens Hostel at I.I.Sc., where the decision to put up P.Srinivasan as the contestant to K. Kamaraj at Virudunagar was taken. I attended many interviews and was expecting offers from Coimbatore Institute for Technology (Lecturer), NAL (Scientific Assistant), Technical Teacher Training Program (GOI) etc., My M.E., course included, as part of my practical work in my project, making of a printed circuit using handmade nylon screen-printing on a Bakelite board. It was considered dirty work amidst the more sophisticated (!) microwave experiments using klystron, magnetron etc.,. I was also a favorite student of Dr N Seshagiri having stood first in his computer classes. At that time there were three places where printed circuits (printed wiring boards) were made crudely on phenolic substrates using screen printing techniques; Indian Telephone Industries (ITI)(collaboration with Bell Telephones, Antwerp, Belgium); Bharat Electronics (for Radar) and Philips India (Pune)(for their transistor radio). The substrates (laminates) were made by Formica and Bakelite Hylam as an adjunct to their decorative laminates business. Surface preparation of copper clad phenolic laminates involved degreasing using steel wool, then rubbing with wet tamarind for descaling before screenprinting (2mm lines and spaces! 1000micron holes! No plating or plated-through holes!). Etching was done with Ferric Chloride manually. Turpentine was used to remove ink; steel wool treatment for surface preparation before application of marginally solderable Lunar lacquer by brushing or spraying! Hybrid circuits were non-existent. Month of October. I got my appointment as Lecturer in Coimbatore Institute of Technology; NAL and TT program too. Was not inclined to join hoping to get my Ph.D., call from Dr BS Sonde; which never probably would come. I always wanted to be in academics or in the private sector as an innovator in preference to being in the public sector or the government as I had always seen my hard-working and upright father struggling for recognition in Electricity Board. An advertisement in the Indian Express captioned Top-notch Project Engineer for an Electronics Project caught my eye; I had inkling this may be a risky but tremendous opportunity to be associated from day one in an exciting project where hard and intelligent work would be rewarded handsomely. I attended the interview at IIT, Madras; Prof.Sampath who was Deputy Director and Mr BT Shankar Hegde, a small scale entrepreneur, spoke glowingly about the electronics project in collaboration with Bernard Golay SA of Switzerland; about how I can be a pioneer without stating the area of activity or product in detail. I had great regard for professor and that largely influenced the decision. Returned to Madurai, consulted my father and then gave a conditional acceptance as the job involved a contract to be bound to the promoter for five years and with a non-compete clause for another five years; the agreement was to be drafted jointly with the company lawyer subsequently. November 1, 1966. Moved over to Madras. Met Mr Hegde at his dingy unimpressive factory at Sydenham Road and went over to meet his family at Kilpauk Garden Colony. He was a gentleman host with a lot of promising words. Next day had a meeting with Shri Sampathkumar, Advocate, in Page 2 of 15

his George Town office; looked at the draft and suggested some changes in view of my fathers retired status assuring remittance of half my salary to him during my stay in Switzerland and the total duration of the agreement. They were accepted only after some convincing. The agreement was signed and was to take effect from the date of joining which was left open! Perhaps Hegde wanted to save on salary till my passport was ready! I was asked to join finally which I did on January 25, 1967 at Shailendra Enterprises at Sydenhams Road at the dingy, dirty sheet metal workshop! Had a look at correspondence with Bernard Golay SA and understood that the company was manufacturing electronic ship chronometers and process timers for industrial control consoles. Did not see much market for these products then in India! However, did some spadework trying to get quotes for centralized AC systems and factory furniture and the like. Another major challenge was latent in the job; it was the language of French which was the only language understood in the part of Switzerland, Canton de Vaud, where Lausanne was situated; the seat of the International Red Cross then. Rummaged Moore Market, located Hugos French in Three Months and started study. My technical German in which I stood first in class at I.I.Sc after a two years course taught by Dr Hans Meinel did not help me as German was more like Sanskrit and was different from other languages of Latin and Anglo-Saxon descent. My English was strong as I stood first in University of Madras in my B.Sc. public examination. That helped to an extent in understanding French grammar, but was of no use in pronunciation. Was nothing like hearing and speaking French. All was set for my journey to Lausanne. Feb 25, 1967. Boarded a Boeing 707 of Air India with just 21GBP (250 Rs) (nothing more was allowed as money then due to stringent Foreign Exchange controls). After a flight and airport change and customs and immigration clearance and long wait of four hours at Bombay took an Air India flight to Zurich. A three hour wait at Zurich boarded the last flight to Geneva and arrived at Geneva. Bernard Golay was personally there to receive and drove me to Hotel Jan at Lausanne. Checked in at 3 pm local time, had a wash and was ready at 5 pm as instructed by Mr Golay. He took me to a restaurant for food. Being vegetarian, the menu contained nothing known. I was asked to try an Italian Pizza. The strange smell (or was it a stink?) prevented me from eating much. A good glass of orange juice and yoghurt ended the day with some nutrition. The stink, sorry, the aroma was of one of the advanced forms of the 220 varieties of French/Swiss cheese! Next morning. At 9.00 AM Lucian Geiger picked me up and drove me to Croix Rouges 2 where Bernard Golay SA office was located. After a brief meeting with Bernard Golay and Jacques Piguet, the Accountant and Office Manager, was taken to the electronics lab in Avenue de Tivoli and introduced to Jean Claude Berney, the Director of the research labs. After a few hours of looking at what was being done there I was taken to Hotel Jan; checked out and was taken with baggage to 15, Mont Goulin at Prilly and introduced to Mademoiselle Elisa Sandoz , my host, at Mont Goulin 15 where I was to stay as a paying guest. She was extremely affable and old enough to be a grandma, being a retired nurse, but did not know even a word of English! Voil! Thus began my momentous 20 months stay in Switzerland. As I was attending Bernard Golay Research Labs where I learnt about Chronometers and Crystal Oscillator controlled process control instrumentation, the project to produce the very first electronic quartz watch in the world began for Longines under a development contract with the inventor Berney as head of the combined research team. At that time there were only Small-Scale-Integrated circuits (SSIs) being made in the world. Medium-Scale-Integrated circuits (MSI) were just under development at RCA, USA. Miniaturization was a major challenge to bring accurate time keeping on the wrist. Bulky inductors were involved in quartz oscillators and quartz was the only way to get enhanced accuracy as against mechanical automatic watches. Berney had already invented Page 3 of 15

completely resistor based quartz oscillators and patented it. This could eliminate the need for inductors for the tank circuit. An MSI to Berneys design was outsourced from RCA under a secrecy agreement. The challenge of micro-packaging components remained. Printed circuit board or hybrid thick film circuits, was the question. Bernard Golay SA did not have either facility. The most important lesson I learnt about quality from Berney was that the right tool for the right job must be used in order to get optimum results. He used to get angry if an oversize or undersize screw driver was used to tighten screws! Precision was always a Swiss obsession and perhaps rightly so evidenced by their leadership in time-keeping for the world! Everything has a place; everything in its place he used to insist. This taught me the 5S principle much before I heard it from the Japanese. As luck would have it, Cicorel SA, at La-Chaux-de-Fonds, a small scale manufacturer of single-sided glass-epoxy printed circuits, was up for sale being in debts. Bernard Golay and Pierre Schaller saw an opportunity and seized it. Cicorel was bought and shifted to Renens near Lausanne. This enabled in a great way the project for the electronic watch as we shall see later. The watch required fast an interconnection system in-house and hybrid development would take longer than can be tolerated by the required deadline. The design necessitated double-sided printed circuit board with at least 250 micron traces and spaces with 0.5 mm holes on a 0.5 mm glass-epoxy substrate. The traces (conductors) needed gold plating as we intended to make the watch fit for outer space; tin plating which was in vogue then was known to develop whiskers especially in outer space and was unfit for wire bonding. Cicorel, then, could make single sided PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) only of thickness 0.8 mm-2.4mm thick glass epoxy with no plated through holes. Several enquiries for Plated-through-holes (PTH) boards such as for famous radar Company Contraves AG were not possible to execute. Pierre Schaller, Director of Cicorel found it impossible to allocate personnel for Research & Development as the employees were preoccupied with single-sided orders and besides none was educated enough to be assigned to research. I had by then identified Professional Grade Printed Circuits and possibly electronic watches/ time distribution systems later as a possible project for India and had written to Shankar Hegde strongly recommending for a favorable decision. This was sometime in June 1967. My Swiss Visa was to expire in August. Pierre Schaller made a request to Bernard Golay to lend my services for three months to conduct research on new processes for PCBs and the request was acceded to. My Visa got extended for six months and I was temporarily transferred to Cicorel at Renens. I worked in all sections, one by one, to be conversant with existing processes. In every section I brought about substantial improvements in quality and productivity by new methods; I moved to supervisory responsibilities and ultimately to production responsibility in a matter of four months! Evenings were spent chalking out a program of research into how to make reliable PTH PCBs; then Riston of Du Pont was nonexistent and application of photoresist using spray or whirler techniques yielded innumerable problems inside holes due to inadequate removal of Kodak PhotoResist 2 leading to voids and nodules. Working 1416 hours every day various possible ways were explored and found to be ineffective; it struck me that the only way the holes can be free of photoresist is not to allow the photoresist to get there in the first place; this would be practical only if drilling takes place after formation of traces and etching both sides. The process sequence was therefore changed completely so as to drill after etching but before electroless copper; however the challenge of preventing electroless copper from sticking on to etched epoxy areas remained. I wanted a paint applicable by spraying, drying fast and with a shining finish. Pierre Schaller found Lumiflex an acrylic-based clear paint which was used as a lacquer to protect wood. This enabled the new process postulated by me to work (which was documented in the presence of a Notary Public and patenting was contemplated). Cicorel started accepting orders for PTH and we progressively delivered prototype PCB to Berney, production quantities to Contraves Page 4 of 15

AG at Zurich, Matiz SA at Lausanne. Pierre Schaller saw the potential in me as he extended his time also in the factory and expressed to Bernard Golay that I should extend my visa for another six month and beyond if necessary. Bernard Golay could get Shankar Hegdes consent based on my reports that professional grade printed circuits especially plated through hole could be our first project in India. I had also indicated that one more electronic engineer be taken for the watch/time distribution activities and also a chemical engineer for the PCB production as lot of plating was involved. August 1967. Cicorel obtained an order for flexible circuits on Mylar/Kapton from Paillard SA at Neuchatel for their film projectors as a development order. Pierre Schaller assigned me the challenge. The circuits were satisfactorily manufactured and delivered to Paillard SA in about four weeks. This was my first foray into flexibles which would come in handy later in India. October 1967. Bernard Golay SA and Cicorel SA decided to exhibit in Inter-Nepcon 1967 at London in November. Cicorel received an order from Elliotts Automation in England for 100 PTH boards to be delivered within a month as they were unable to get reliable supply from anywhere in Europe. The production had to be achieved in 15 days as against the normal delivery of 4-6 weeks. Working 16 hours a day and overnight the last day we successfully realized what was needed. We were ready to deliver and it was decided that we carry the boards personally to London. Elliotts Automation technical staff were thrilled to receive such good boards which passed all their inspection and testing. I manned the Golay stalls at Inter-Nepcon 1967. I had the good fortune of attending a 2 day course on Thick Film Hybrids there which gave me a great insight into hybrid circuits as well as wirebonding. The visit to Inter-Nepcon gave a strong exposure to machines and processes for micropackaging electronics. By the time we returned we had a letter of appreciation from Elliotts Automation at Cicorel and a repeat order. We were on cloud nine with a worthwhile invention which could put Cicorel on the path to success. Cicorel became a pioneer in PTH PCBs in all of Europe before many others. Research continued into increasing layers and reducing line widths and spaces. The electronics watch project gathered pace with the first prototype passing all tests. It was decided to manufacture 10000 as a first lot and plan was drawn up Golay-Longines combine headed by Berney. My French was improving by leaps and bounds, thanks to my loquacious host Tantelle, and many friends at Cicorel. This accelerated my work at Cicorel and I started planning for the project in India. Shankar Hegde had booked a readymade shed reserved for small scale industries in an industrial area in Vyasarpadi industrial estate in Madras (now Chennai). I had a feeling that Madras was not the right place as most electronics activity was in Bangalore with Bharat Electronics, Indian Telephones and Hindustan Aeronautics situated in Bangalore. I wrote about it, but Hegde spurned my suggestion. November 1968. Finally, I left Switzerland fully prepared to head and execute the project in India. Friends at both Bernard Golay SA and Cicorel SA bade me a tearful farewell with their best wishes for the future. Back in India, having spent considerable time in Bangalore and Lausanne, I felt Madras was sultry, dirty and disorganized! From my residence at crowded Vepery, going by bus every day to Ambattur Industrial Estate where Bit-Tul Private Limited (makers of mechanical cutting tools) was situated for designing and fabricating worktables and revolving chairs was nothing less than an ordeal. The brighter side of it was my acquaintance and friendship with Manohar, a fresh mechanical engineering diploma holder, son of ICF works Manager. He was able to grasp my requirements and Page 5 of 15

help in physically realizing my visualization of how the mechanical hardware should be for ergonomically comfortable working. We also simultaneously visited Vysarpadi and started making ground marking and layout design for the equipment planned for the project. All the same my underlying disappointment at having to plan for a less-than-optimum size factory with no scope for expansion at Madras where no electronics activity was existing then continued to gnaw at me. Made a fresh attempt to speak to Hegde and write to Golay about my views. May 1969. Hegde made a visit to Bangalore and met Mr Veerendra Patil, the then Chief Minister of Karnataka. The CM appreciated his plans to make watches and printed circuits and offered speedy help. On his return, Hegde asked us to stop all work at Vyasarpadi and Ambattur and broke the news that we were to move to Bangalore for good on a more ambitious project. Made a visit to Bangalore met Mr KLV Subbaiah, Planning Manager of MICO; Hegde purchased from him a 4 acre land near Doddakalasandra in the South of Bangalore. Plans were made to shift Bit-Tul Private Limited also into that land along with the electronics project. This effectively delayed the project schedule by 6-8 months. July 1969. I shifted my residence to Jayanagar 4th Block. The acquired land was green-field with no industries around; was about 5 kms from my house. We rented a villa at Ashoka Pillar Road in Jayanagar 1st Block for the project office. Besides planning for the project in detail again, I had on hand selling cutting tools and responding to customer complaints for work! Commuting between project office and site was by walk during the first month and by bicycle thereafter. After all Government clearances were obtained and finalizing the construction plan with M/s LM Chitale & Son at Madras, I shifted my attention full time to the site. My knowledge of civil engineering and hydraulics came in handy to supervise construction activity and assure its quality even as I considered the building of a factory which would provide high-tech employment to people as a scared task of building a temple of modern India as Indias first Prime Minister used to call such. The initial business was dependent on Cicorel giving us export orders, Hegdes attention shifted to getting approvals for the first-ever bonded warehouse and bonded manufacture in the country. The corporate entity Hegde & Golay Private Limited was born by changing the name of Superweld Electrodes Pvt Ltd, one of the many companies registered then. Mr HB Narasimha Rao joined me as a mechanical engineer and Manohar was shifted from Madras to Bangalore. Borewells were made and water was ensured. Building construction started with the basement earmarked for stores which was temporarily made into an office; Narasimha Rao acted as my typist and draughtsman for the first month while Manohar went about fabricating work desks, spray booths, chairs etc., Hegde was interested in fabricating on one off basis every machine, but my view was to import the essential ones to ensure quality and after much conflict I had my way. He also recommended an open shed-like manufacturing, whereas I was clear that partitions were necessary to keep the atmosphere controlled for quality output; I had to force my way and was reprimanded for my initiative! November 1969. We received news that Neil Armstrong wore the first electronic watch in the world gifted to him by Bernard Golay which worked well on the surface of the moon and returned. The gold plated miniature PCB made by me had proved its worth! Equipments and materials started arriving. Hegde had by then succeeded in getting the necessary permissions for bonded manufacturing for the first time in South India. Trials were done in December and the factory inauguration took place on January 01, 1970 and the first invoice was made for the first ever export of printed circuits from India to Switzerland. Pierre Schaller was all Page 6 of 15

praise for the meticulous execution and conveyed the immense satisfaction of the client firm in Switzerland. As Hegde & Golay printed circuit exports were continuing, people from BARC, BEL, HAL, ITI, ECIL, SAC etc., visited the facility and they needed high quality professional grade printed circuits for realizing their designs. They were so impressed that they requested us to apply for special permission from the authorities to sell a portion of production to the domestic market. By August 1970, this became possible. Regular marketing staff joined and by 1971 we had thirty domestic customers both in the public and private sector. Many customers hailed the advent of H&G as a major step in self-reliance for the country with scarce foreign exchange and restricted imports. H&G Printed Circuits went on from strength to strength as a pioneer and was involved in many firsts in Printed Circuits. As production responsibilities for printed circuits and time distribution systems/watches was assigned to new Swiss returned engineers, I moved on to Research, Methods and Quality Assurance which enabled me to bring out many firsts in interconnect technology. Mr S. Krishnamurthy and Mr Gopalakrishnan joined early on in 1970 for cost control and accounts respectively. Krishnamurthy and I introduced many a system to tone up management. I could do a good deal of industrial engineering and quality management system activity bringing about substantial productivity improvements. My guidance documents were the MIL specs of the American Army Command and NATO. November 1971. ITI needed 36000 phenolic boards for its transmission equipment in six weeks when Mr UDN Rao was Works Manager (Transmission). He decided ITI with its limited facilities cannot make them and sought help from H&G. However this challenge was worth taking as it would eventually open entry into ITI in a big way for professional grade PCBs too. To separate the image, Shreeshyla Graphics was born as a strategy and succeeded in meeting ITIs requirement in time with exceptional co-operation from ITI. We had to work almost round the clock with black paper on windows as working at night was then prohibited by a black-out due to the threat of bombing from Pakistan as the war of 1971 was raging on both western and eastern fronts. This phase taught me important lessons about mass production at low cost, while maintaining quality; the crucial nature of competitive quality. Statistical system thinking and importance of data collection were learnt during this period. The concepts of AQL and Sampling plans as well as their limitations were fully grasped then. With Prof. UR Rao establishing the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore, H&G became a vital supplier to ISRO to realize the landmark projects of Aryabhatta, Bhaskara I, Bhaskara II and Apple satellites. DCM Data Products realized their first calculators with H&G printed circuits. H&G became a synonym for quality and reliability in interconnect technology saving precious foreign exchange for the country. Analogue electronic quartz watches became available to India. Computers, Communications, Defence and Aerospace electronics were indigenously manufactured owing to the availability of electronic packaging design and manufacturing capability in the country. 1973. H&G recovered after a brief labor unrest in 1972 and customers remained loyal despite the brief upset on account of established quality of product and service. New manufacturers came up with a few of my colleagues leaving H&G thereby giving customers more choice for professional grade printed circuits. However, H&G held its own in quality and reliability.

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1974. Instead of going into full-fledged electronics, Hegde became enamoured of mechanical watches. KIADB acquired and gave 65 acres of land and with the help of KSIIDC and KFC (financial institutions) Plans were drawn up for a sprawling industrial estate and a watch assembly facility to challenge HMT, the public sector watch giant established with Citizen collaboration. With the launch of Cauvery, the automatic mechanical watches H&G entered manufacture of mechanical watches also. Swiss who were traditionally opposed to giving watch technology outside caused problems to Golay SA from Swiss cartels which were opposed to giving technology outside. 1976. There was a growing need for Multilayer Printed Circuits and H&G responded by making them for the first time in India up to six layers. During this phase, I had the opportunity to handle the materials management function for the whole complex. This gave me an opportunity to improve supplier quality through ratings, statistical analysis of in-coming goods, and supplier process capability, as we had to deal with tool room making a few tools to watch parts units making tens of thousands of cases, dials, gears and pinions. The industrial estate consisted of over 20 units making various parts for both mechanical and electronic watches. The Shreeshyla Horological Polythechnic was set up with partial aid from Government of Karnataka with HB Narasimha Rao as its first Principal. I was co-opted as a member of the Governing Council. 1977. Electronic watches with digital LCD display was started with help from Motorola. A complete assembly facility was set up using chip-on-board technology on soft gold plated printed circuits; and these watches were priced at around Rs 250/- whereas HMT automatic mechanical watches made in Tumkur were being sold at Rs 450/-. HMT saw this as a major threat to its 30 crore investment in Tumkur. H&Gs main competition was smuggling from Hong Kong. Smuggled digital watches with basic functions were available in Chickpet on the pavement for Rs 100/-. To meet this threat we designed and tested extensively a basic digital LCD watch which could be sold for Rs 86/-. H&G applied for expansion licences both for mechanical and digital watches. Morarji Desai was Prime Minister and George Fernandes was Minister for Industry then. They both saw this as threat to HMT and hence refused expansion licence; to add fuel to the fire they also brought out a restrictive electronic watch policy which stipulated that no electronic watch should be sold for less than Rs 450/- and any difference between Rs 450/- and ex-factory price should be credited to the Consolidated Fund of India. Besides, all electronic watch assemblers should use only modules manufactured by Semiconductor Complex Ltd at Chandigarh. This sounded the death knell for H&G watch units as well as Shreeshyla Co-operative Industrial Estate housing about 20 Small Scale companies. The downward spiral began and the whole initiative to manufacture mechanical watches proved a blunder. 1978. State Bank of India loan payments and interest payments burdened the company. The case went to the courts. A lender never helps when you are in need, but he offers loan when you do not need it! Universal truth! This situation progressively affected other product lines also. By 1981, it became clear to me that Hegde protected his bread and butter with Shailendra Enterprises and Bit-Tul Private Limited being outside the purview of SBI, but left H&G in the lurch with Golay also liquidated in Switzerland. I moved in July 1981, teaming up with N.Kumar of Sanmar Group, Chennai, who was interested in manufacturing electronic components. After looking at a few sick units like Hilversum, we concluded that the idea of taking over and turning around sick units making other components was not such a Page 8 of 15

good idea and with the vacuum being created by H&G going down printed and hybrid circuits were the right area to get into. Prof. UR Rao had always suggested to me that micro packaging electronics was an important area to further self-reliance in the country. We therefore decided to set up an advanced Printed and Hybrid circuit unit and named it as Micropack Ltd and Minicircuits Limited in a new industrial area at Jigani. Jigani got its first telephone exchange and electrical sub-station by our efforts. Micropack was incorporated in 1982 and came into operation in January 1984. Mr HS Srinivasa Reddy, Mr MA Ranganath (Quality) et al joined me at different times to contribute their mite to make Micropack the undisputed leader in PTH and Multilayer technology. All the sectors in electronics benefited by Micropacks capabilities including aerospace and defence units. Micropack/ Minicircuits won many laurels including Elcina awards for import substitution for Multi-layer Printed Circuit Boards, Membrane Key Boards, and Invention Promotion Awards for MLBs and Hybrid Circuits of NRDC. Micropack Research was a DSIR recognized R&D Lab. We registered two Indian Patents, one on additive technology and the other on land-only MLBs sans soldermask having enhanced shelf life for defence and space applications. Micropack remained the preferred supplier for high reliability applications (MIL approved in 1991, ISO certified in 1991). In the course of these momentous years, we had trained about 500 people at different levels in micro packaging technology and this created the technical pool from which the printed circuit industry grew. India could realize thermonuclear weapon systems, guided missiles, avionics, satellites and rockets without depending on imports of Multilayer PCBs and Flexible and Flexi-rigid PCBs. Micropack avoided large scale production of printed circuits as there were other units like AT&S (INDAL) to do that ( Mr RC Sarangi with Mr Krishnamurthy Rao spearheaded volume production at Indal); it concentrated on the strategic sector and remained a technological pioneer. Micropack introduced surface mount technology for electronics assembly, wire-bonding of open chips on boards both ceramic and glass epoxy. Heat sink bonded boards, RT Duroid boards for high frequency applications and strip lines was also introduced. With etch back, MLB layer count was increased. Testing with pins on grid (Mania) and flying probe testers (Probot) were introduced to enhance reliability. 1991. Pursuit of TQM and Six Sigma effected cost savings, increased productivity and Micropack weathered the storm of import liberalization and indigenous competition admirably. Micropack and Minicircuits were the first ever units to be certified to ISO 9000 series standards in India as early as 1991. Micropack was the first ever Indian company to be MIL approved by DESC (USA). Elcina honored me with a special citation on my silver-jubilee year of service to the PCB industry. NRDC (National Research Development Corporation of India) gave away two invention promotion awards, one for MLB and the other for Hybrid Circuits. The crowning glory was however being elected Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Circuit Technology (UK), the first and only Indian Fellow and one among eight pioneers worldwide to be honored thus, of which Paul Eisler the inventor of the printed circuit was the first. As Micropack President & CEO, I had the privilege of being the Chairman of Elcina Panel for PCB Industry, Co-Founder of Indian Printed Circuit Association, and President of IPCA 1989-1991. With more competition coming from international players in all sectors, I moved to Chennai as Executive Director in Sanmar corporate office to promote TQM and ISO-9000 in all units of Sanmar Group including Electronics, having seen major gains in quality and productivity in Micropack through TQM and Six Sigma in the years 1991-93. I became one of the very first to be elected a Fellow of the Institute of Quality Assurance(UK) which later became Chartered Quality Institute Page 9 of 15

(UK) by Royal Charter. From 1994 to 2000, TQM became my nearly full time occupation and all units in Sanmar Group were progressively ISO certified; a corporate TQM group was built with Mr V. Alagappan as its head. Kaizen was practiced in many units with useful employee involvement. Business Process Improvement was taken up in right earnest in many companies. Employees were rewarded handsomely during annual days for their quality contributions. ISO certification paved the way in Sanmar Engineering to exploit export opportunities, strike lucrative joint venture deals overseas. Sanmar Group reorganized its businesses and after my retirement sold Micropack to another promoter. Mr Sreekar Reddy (Director), Mr K Srinivasan(Executive Director) and Mr Pradeep (VicePresident- Tech) are carrying the torch today. Micropack continues to be a Technology leader manufacturing MLBs upto 26 layers besides flexible and flexi rigid boards for special hi-rel applications. (Minicircuits pioneering in hybrid circuits and chip-on-board was closed after a labor unrest and market shrinkage due to free imports after liberalization of the import regime and the fall of demand for CDOT exchanges. Minicircuits machines were of use to Karnataka Hybrid devices founded by Mr Ramkumar and Mr Sheshadri of ISRO at electronics city. Countless others who went through portals of H&G or Micropack enriched many a circuit technology company in the country to firmly establish the industry in India. Hundreds of employees of Sanmar Group in Chennai were initiated into continuous improvement and Six Sigma. They all had gained a firm commitment to quality in whatever they would do. On retirement from Sanmar Group in 2000 I joined PES School of Management (now PES University) as Professor of Management and retired as Professor in 2002; Continued as a consultant for Quality being an ASQ certified Software Quality Engineer and Six Sigma Black Belt. I had the opportunity to perform system audits as Lead Auditor for about 300 hours in companies in different sectors and train about 1000 people in Six Sigma Quality over this period. Micropack remains yet the only and first Indian manufacturer approved by Defence Electronics Supply Command (DESC, USA) for both rigid and flexi-rigid MLBs, besides being a technology leader in interconnect technology. Sanmar Group is maintaining organic growth in its chosen areas. (As of January 2014).

Chronology of achievements in H&G and Micropack:


1. The first Glass Epoxy Single sided Board in India (1969). 2. The first Tin and Tin-lead plated Circuit in India (1970). 3. The first plated through hole circuit in India (1970). 4. The first LCSO approved professional grade PCB in India (1971). 5. The first UL-approved professional grade PCB in India (1972). 6. The first Multilayer Board in India (4 layer) (1975). 7. The first ISRO qualified PTH Board in India (AryaBhata, Bhaskara I, Bhaskara II and Apple used these PCB's on Board). 8. The very first polymer thick film based additive circuits were made in India (1978) Page 10 of 15

9. The first Chip-on-board watch module in India (with gold wire-bonding) (1979) 10. The first Digital Electronic watch module in India (1979). 11. The first solder masked professional grade PCB in India (1980). 12. The first SMOBC Board in India with Hot air levelling (1983). 13. The first small-hole PTH PCB, CNC drilled in India (1984). 14. The first Black oxided MLB in India (1984). 15. The first dry film solder masked PCB's in India. (1984). 16. The first Membrane Keyboard ever manufactured in India (1984). 17. The first UL-approved multilayer Board (6 layer) in India (1985). 18. The first Multilayer Board having 5 mil lines and 5 mil spaces and 0.3 mm holes (1985). 19. The first military (LCSO) qualified multilayer boards in India with etchback (1985). 20. The first commercially produced Hybrid Integrated circuit in the private sector (1985) (for PCM-MUX Equipment of TRC)( CDOT Line Card Hybrid).

21. The first liquid photo imageable solder masked boards in India for SMT applications (1988). 22. The first 24 layer board in India (1989). 23. The first Microassemblies involving automated SMT in India (1989). 24. The first bulk vacuum laminated, Multilayer PCB's in India (1989). 25. The first Electroless Ni + Au Board for SMT in India 26. The first to manufacture Slotmask Technology 27. The first Indian to Chair a Technical Conference outside India on PCB's - Singapore Nepcon/Semiconductor Asia 92 28. The very first Indian patents on PCB technology (eight in numbers) were obtained by me. These were on new methods on SMOBC Boards as well as on a MassLam technique for MLB's, before MassLam was ever attempted abroad (1978). Also polymer thick film circuits. 29. The first ever indigenously manufactured calculator, microcomputer, minicomputer and mainframe computer as well as microprocessor based Page 11 of 15

equipment used PCB's manufactured with my technology. 30. First ever Indian Approval on IECQ / ISO-9000 ( Geneva ) Certification in Electronics in 1991. (Micropack & Minicircuits) 31. First ever Indian Approval on DESC ( American Defence ) for any Company in India ( 1991 ), 32. The first Heat-sink bonded MLB, the first Kevlar circuit board, C-In-C and C-Mo-C boards made in India (1992-1994). Flexible circuit boards enabled realization of missile electronics by Bharat Dynamics Ltd. Flexi-rigid processes were established. 33. Six Companies in Group Awarded ISO - 9001 / 9002 Certificates from 1991-1995 : on Path to TQM, Team based BPR. 34. Attained ASQ qualifications as Certified Software Quality Engineer and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt. 35. After my retirement, Micropack added flying probe testers, plasma etchback and obtained approval for Flexi-rigid multilayer circuit from DESC (USA).

Acknowledgements:
Besides thanking all my colleagues named in the story above, I would be failing in my duty if I do not recognize the unstinted support offered by my parents ( K.Vedachalam & M. Saraswathi) , my wife Radhika, my children Krishna and Lakshmi, who were denied much of my time owing to my 14-16 hour preoccupation for many years on end in the service of quality. Mr R. Chellappa (of ITI) was inducted as Secretary of IPCA and has been a valued colleague during my stewardship of the IPCA and continued to take IPCA to greater heights thereafter as Secretary-General till after Silver-Jubilee of IPCA. My thanks to him and Mr Mukund Shah for using my services to teach Statistical Process Control to PCB companies.

References/Publications.
1. Photofabrication of Printed Circuit Boards, Electrical & Electronics World : Vol.III No.2 1975

2. Conception of a Multilayer PCB, Electronics For You - Sep 1976 3. Some Facts and Figures of Indian Printed Circuit, Industry - Circuit World (UK) Vol.4 No 1, 1977. 4. Flexible Printed Circuit Boards - Some myths - Electronics For You - Annual 1980 5. The Quartz Watch Era - (Chip-on-Board), Trade Post - July 1981 6. Polymer Thickfilm Hybrid Circuits, Electronics For You, Sep. 1983 7. Design & Technology of Printed Circuit Boards. Tata McGraw-Hill, Co-author, 1983. 8. A Possible Approach To Multilayer Manufacture To Enhance Solderability & Shelf Life - Circuit World (UK) - Vol.18 No.4 1992 9. Better Solderability and Shelf Life Than SMOBC/SSC - Alternative Finish For Complex PCB's Proceedings - Globaltronics '92 10. Guest Editorial - Electronics Today : April, 1992

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11. Guest Editorial - Circuit World (UK): March, 1993 12. Paper on "Business Process Improvement" in I.I.I.E. National Convention 1995, Awarded Certificate of Merit.

Patents granted:
150068 dt. 18.6.79 Multilevel Circuits 149895 dt. 17.8.79 Foil Lamination 149869 dt. 18.6.79 Immersion Tin-SMOBC 149796 dt. 18.6.79 Etch-Plate process 149870 dt. 18.6.79 ) 149871 dt. 18.6.79 ) SMOBC Reflowed 149872 dt. 18.6.79 ) 149873 dt. 18.6.79 ) 172204 dt. 13.9.89 } New processes 174070 dt. 8.3.90 } Additive & SlotMask.

Recognitions: (as individual): Elected a Fellow of the Institute of Circuit Technology (UK) July 1976 (First Indian) Elected a Fellow of the Indian Institution of Industrial Engineering 1991 Elcina's Special Individual citation for Special Achievement, 1991 Udyog Ratan Award of the Institute of Economic Studies, New Delhi 1987 National Research Award, 1990 (NRDC for Multilayer Hybrids) National Research Award - 1993 (NRDC for MLB's) Elected Fellow of the Indian Institution of Industrial Engineering (1993) Elected Fellow of the Chartered Quality Institute (UK) & CQP (1996) Elected Fellow of the Institution of Engineers (India)(1999)

Elected Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Circuit Technology (UK) (2001) (First and only Indian amongst eight worldwide including Paul Eisler the inventor of printed circuit) Registered Lead Auditor for Quality Management Systems (ISO-9001:2000) Certified Software Quality Engineer (ASQ, USA) Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (ASQ, USA) Page 13 of 15

As Company Rep: Elcina Award for Import Substitution 1984 for Multilayer Printed Circuit Boards National Award from Ministry of Industry for Import Substitution - Ceramic hybrid Integrated circuits 1991 Awarded IECQ and DESC recognitions for Multilayer PCB's (also core committee member DOE/BIS for ISO 9000) Nominated as Chairman PCB panel Elcina, three times. Co-Founder IPCA and President IPCA (1989-1991)

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