Industry Forecast 2010: Climbing Back Up

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Forecasting the electronics industry's direction is never an easy task, but this year, with global economies in volatile flux and no sector left unscathed, it is even more difficult. We asked suppliers, analysts, industry associations, and electronics assemblers two questions: How has your company adapted to the global recession? What technologies/innovations will boost the economy out of the recession? Responses show a blend of optimism and realism. Many of the suppliers queried for our annual forecast believe strongly in R&D, and their investments in this area back up their words. We're cautiously anticipating a lift out of recession and back toward growth, with renewable energy and mobility technologies leading the way. Just one factor cannot pull us out of recession. Beyond mobility and energy, medical, military, and volume consumer goods must trend positive. Renewable energy – fuel cells, photovoltaics – needs the expertise of electronics companies to reach their full potential, and many respondents are encouraged by the global investments in these fields.

Another trend continuing in 2010 is the shift to mobile connectivity, via portable consumer electronics like netbooks and smartphones. Consumer confidence is still wavering month to month; however, sales of high-functionality, small-form-factor electronics remain high. Many predict that the netbook and smartphone signal the end of the desktop computer era.

It won't all be easy, but perseverance is the name of the game. Workplace reductions can translate into leaner manufacturing practices. Counterfeit component threats can lead to better traceability and the resultant quality, customer service, and inventory management improvements. Lower revenues push companies to focus on core strengths. Supposed negatives can shape stronger, smarter electronics companies as the global economy climbs out of the red and into the black. SMT

Zurvahn LLCJohn H. Buckley, senior VP of salesWhat global recession? We've brought more value to the overall customer relationship. Anyone in this marketplace who has a commodity product or service and does not add the maximum value to their business model and customer relationship will perish in this environment. I do not believe it will be just one innovation that will boost the economy out of recession. It will take a "mind-set" change that things are getting better and everyone will start investing more dollars, driving innovation and new products.

ZESTRON WorldwideHarald Wack, Ph.D., president We've used the opportunity to invest in better customer support and new products to reduce process cost. Our new Malaysia Technical Center will help local customers with their cleaning needs. The new pH-neutral defluxing agent with low operating concentration reduces overall process cost while providing the best material compatibility. Also, the ZESTRON Bath Analyzer allows users to reliably maintain actual bath concentration. I am not sure if single products can help the global markets out of the recession. Since numerous complex factors caused this global recession, it is logical to assume that it will take some time for downward forces to recede. This recession will give rise to many product innovations throughout the industry that will enable companies to drive down bottom-line costs. Companies who take advantage of these costs-saving innovations will emerge leaner and stronger. We're focused on products that allow customers to better control their chemistry concentration and reuse recovered chemistry that would be wasted.

WKK Distribution Ltd.Hamed El Abd, presidentThis has been a frustrating year. We are doing all we can to support our customers, yet the economy does not cooperate. We watch all expenses and associated costs. As business begins to improve, customers are still most concerned about cost. Cost reduction brings users to places they might not have previously ventured, such as used equipment. These are challenges for our customers, as well as us. We are launching new equipment that addresses customers' cost-cutting focus, including a fully automated system for inserting odd-shaped components into the board. This kind of assembly has been mainly done by hand in China, but as costs rise, customers are looking at automated equipment for the first time. I also see customers testing more to ensure better and consistent quality. We also see strong potential in SMT equipment that has small footprints with operational speed.

VJ ElectronixAl Cabral, marketing & sales managerWe increased participation in alternative energy, medical, and aerospace markets, including non-electronic applications involving turbines, fuel, and solar cells. We strategically invest in new product development, expand our product offerings, and provide broader services for the recovery. A collaboration of new technologies related to alternative energy will contribute to economic recovery. Technology alone is not the cure. Stimulus programs should add drive and motivation, but increased consumer confidence and financing alternatives will lead to stability and recovery.

 Viscom Inc. Carsten Salewski, CEO After a record year in 2008, we prepared for the downturn in 2009. We maintained a strong focus on R&D in our AXI and AOI technologies. By enhancing our product portfolio with the latest, most advanced technology, we have kept ourselves ready to compete for business and take advantage of new opportunities as the market improves.

Virtual Industries Inc.Tom Mealey, executive VPWe are running a lean workforce, retaining key people with flexible hours. We use marketing to maintain a presence in key industries. Current technologies will bring us out of the recession – consumer confidence/spending is key for economic rebound. Our financial system woes are passing and soon world economies will return to positive territories. As we look at a reduced carbon energy future, a rainbow of technologies will drive greener living and job growth.

Victron Inc.Martin Crow, director of manufacturing operations We are implementing internal improvement programs, such as our 5S Program, Process Reviews, and a complete manufacturing facility re-layout. We are aggressively pursuing renewable energy, medical, and bio-tech, as these markets are gaining momentum with new products in solar, alternative energy, home healthcare monitoring, and genetic research.

Valor Computerized SystemsDan Weitzman, president, AmericasValor delivers continuous improvement and innovative technologies. In the slowdown, we focused R&D on technologies and commercial proposals that enable customers to accelerate time to market and maximize manufacturing assets while producing products with highest quality levels. Efficiencies drive today's manufacturing environment. Profit margins are tight and operations need to have real-time visibility to key process indicators. Innovative products that provide real-time visibility into the factory will drive efficiency and higher profits.

Technology Forecasters Inc. Pamela J. Gordon, president We see stunning growth potential for products that help companies and individuals reduce energy consumption: lighting, transportation, computing, telecom, heating/cooling, consumer goods, etc. Funding from private and government sources boosts alternative-energy programs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 promotes companies' investing in energy efficiency and directly pays companies that create and place in service renewable energy facilities. We recommend serving balanced portfolios of industries and markets, and including environmentally-conservative products and services.

Techcon SystemsCan La, product manager, OEM Products DivisionWe found ways to reduce costs internally and with the help of our suppliers. We implemented steps to improve productivity and manage inventory efficiently, allowing us to reduce prices on some key products to our customers. People are conscious of cost cutting. Any new technologies that help reduce manufacturing cost will be big sellers. Also, products that use solar energy efficiently will be attractive for energy savings.

STI Electronics David Raby, president and CEOWe are fortunate in that we have managed to grow through the recession by meeting our customers' evolving needs. We added employees and equipment, and improved our efficiency and customer service. Our business model points toward hardware that is smaller, lighter, more reliable, and requires less power. Whether a multi-million dollar defense system or a one-hundred dollar MP3 player, the technology and expertise to build it better is available through Imbedded Component/Die Technology or mainstream methods.

 SMT North America Inc.Manfred Maehl, presidentWith a major R&D investment, we updated our product range to deliver leading-edge oven technology. Our reflow ovens are environmentally friendly and designed for maximum efficiency with process control, low energy consumption, and low COO. In today's competitive world, operating cost controls are critical, as are minimizing energy consumption and maximizing output. Our dual-chamber flux management system reduces downtime/maintenance. Vacuum Plus optimizes solder joints, eliminating voids.

Siemens Electronics Assembly Systems GmbH & Co. KG Ray Bruce, VP, sales & marketingOur organization's goal is to respond flexibly to fluctuating demand and changing customer requirements. We restructured machine production in accordance with lean principles, improved our access to worldwide distribution resources, and intensified our cooperation with customers and technology partners. The future of SMT production is build-to-order, i.e. the ability to manufacture with maximum flexibility and strictly based on individual orders. We call this "capacity on demand." SEAS started a campaign of BTO solutions with new placement platforms, software and services. One example is the Siplace SX with replaceable gantries, making placement performance and feeder capacity independently scalable and transferable between lines.

Seika Machinery Inc.Michelle Ogihara, sales and marketing managerWe're more focused on our core business value: customer service and support offered with high-performance SMT and ATE solutions. We opened an Atlanta office to provide demonstrations and expedite support and repair services to East Coast customers, as well as serving customers from our CA headquarters. Seika invested in advertising to show more support to our industry and customer base during these tough times. Just as lead-free rejuvenated the electronics assembly market in North America and will still be a major process driver, the green energy movement starting with solar should indicate another re-growth. It is debatable if this is a good trend; just as Japan has been ahead in developing lead-free products and assembly processes due to consumer- or government-driven demand, solar panel products and their processing equipment were optimized.

RMD Instrument Corp.Steve Glass, RoHS business development managerRMD recast its forecasts based on a downsized world where customer layoffs and relationships take the hardest hits. We have done well to cope and adjust to the downturn by being more innovative in keeping our brand in front of potential customers. In the new economy, consistent brand awareness will allow us to be ready to serve customers when a solution to a process opportunity presents itself. Counterfeit components are threatening manufacturers and RMD has developed a nondestructive tool to help identify potential counterfeit or sub-standard components. The LeadTracer-RoHS XRF analyzer can help improve product quality while saving time and expense.

Rehm Thermal SystemsMarc Dalderup, CCO 2009 has shown to be a challenging year for our industry. However, we used it to come out stronger in 2010, offering a product line, infrastructure, and features that will grow our market share in the electronic and solar industries. We see 2010 as a year where the market for capital machines will increase from low 2009 levels. While it is unclear today what the growth levels will be, the global Rehm team is optimistic about 2010.

Rapid Tooling Inc.Dee Claybrook, president and CEOWe reduced overhead and targeted industries and markets that have been resilient in the downturn: medical, military, energy, and packaging. Our efforts also intensified in retaining current customers by being flexible and responsive. The semiconductor industry is showing strength. An exciting technology development in semiconductor packages is "Coreless Technology," a coreless package for electronics and photovoltaics that is a natural progression in Moore's Law. This development will affect substrate handling, requiring tooling changes.

R&D Technical ServicesDavid Suihkonen, presidentR&D Technical Services/Vapor Works adapted by innovating and staying close to our customer base with tools and support. We are also keeping expansion plans in check for the moment. We expect a strong rise once the economy loosens – prepared when the time comes. With the breadth and depth of this recession, it is difficult to point a finger at one factor that will help pull us out. More likely, it will be a gradual move towards a more stable environment for business with technology, financials, manufacturing, and consumer confidence playing a part.

Production Solutions Inc.Doug Farlow, presidentOur primary focus is on design, engineering, and cost reduction of our RED-E-SET board support products. Most electronics manufacturers can reduce changeover time, improve quality, and increase revenue, so we look for ways to help them justify the investment. In the short term, without the consumer market rebounding, I don't think technology/innovations will cause a broad recovery. There will be pockets – alternative energy, medical, micro/nano electronic, green – that enjoy attention from public and private segments and forecast growth.

Pillarhouse USA Inc.Jonathan Wol, presidentAs a selective soldering system supplier, we developed next-gen selective soldering technology, such as our solder pump, which creates virtually no solder dross and requires minimal de-drossing. Our Jade Handex stand-alone selective soldering system offers rapid throughput with the flexibility of a manual machine and our PillarGen nitrogen generator provides on-demand nitrogen at 50ppm purity with minimal maintenance. These systems are energy-efficient with low COO and high ROI.

 Practical Components Inc.Kevin Laphen, presidentWe used new methods to reach to engineers and other users worldwide, taking our full catalog online. Despite the current recession, we introduced cutting-edge technologies and updates to our classics. We added new test boards, body sizes, and configurations of our Amkor FusionQuad, B52 cleanliness and residue evaluation test (CRET), 01005 caps and resistors, as well as a full range of PoP components. No one particular technology will boost the economy out of the recession. Emerging technologies that lean toward green and conserving energy will become increasingly popular.

Panasonic Factory Solutions Company Masa Kaji, group manager, electronics assembly We have adapted to the recession by hastening our "equipment vendor" to "total solutions provider" evolution, utilizing internal manufacturing expertise to create productivity-enhancing solutions. We've converged technologies in our compact, multi-purpose NPM platform, with one machine for placement, printing, dispensing, and inspecting; introduced integrated software; and expanded consulting to include Kaizen lean, six sigma, best practices, and more. Trends in lean, OEE, and quality indicate that the industry is looking beyond machinery for value across entire processes. Our goal is to maximize the entire manufacturing process.

P.D. Circuits Inc.David Wolff, presidentP. D. Circuits has come out of the recession stronger than when the slowdown began. We saw a drop in business and adapted with some personnel cuts, careful to focus on customer support. This has lead to improved performance, higher customer satisfaction, and new customers. In the electronics industry, I see medical equipment advancements, strong industrial process controls demand and wireless/satellite communications innovations helping to pull us out of this recession.

 Omron Electronics LLCChris Speck, AOI business unit managerOmron is leveraging our AOI equipment with total-solution products that result in a no-defect/high-efficiency SMT. Recession recovery will rely on innovations that generate consumer and government spending on circuit-board-containing products. Development and advancements in electric and hybrid vehicles as well as electronic consumer products will gradually stimulating consumer spending. Continued military spending and medical advances will further stimulate the economy.

Nihon Superior Co. Ltd.Tetsuro Nishimura, presidentThe recession prompted us to consider expanding the range of applications of lead-free solder SN100C. The discovery of nickel's stabilizing effect on the interfacial intermetallic, and confirmation of the alloy's stability under high current density conditions, created new business opportunities. With global warming prompting a surge of interest in power with low CO2 emissions, the demand from renewable energy industries is likely to be a major creator of new business for electronics.

NBS Corp.Chris Alessio, VP sales & marketingNBS has not been adversely affected by the global recession due to a diversified customer base and strong service offerings. The increase in venture capital funding in recent months is helping jump start the Silicon Valley electronics engine. NBS is concentrating on key market growth sectors: medical, industrial control, military, and green tech. We added manufacturing and test equipment, as well as floor space for box build and systems integration.

MIRTEC Corp.Brian D'Amico, presidentWe recorded near-triple-digit growth in global revenue, testimony to our products, global sales network, and customer support. We earn a solid reputation by bringing performance, quality, and cost-effectiveness to the inspection process. Technological advances in mobile phones, PCs, data transmission, and storage technology will lead the electronics industry into sustainable recovery in 2010. Growth will also come from renewable energy and automotive sectors. Global economic recovery, however, requires growth across multiple areas; expansion in a few won't likely be enough.

 Microscan Andrew Zosel, director of product marketingMicroscan initially scaled back with decreased demand, but we are investing to take market share for the upturn. No single innovation will boost the economy out of recession; it will require a series of incremental ideas and efficiencies. New micro projectors, simple miniature video cameras, and increased bandwidth will drive adoption of video content sharing and real-time video-based communications.

Mentor Graphics John Isaac, director of market development, Systems Design DivisionExperts say that a recession is not the time to pull back and reduce R&D investment; it is the time to increase R&D so that you survive/thrive and emerge much stronger. Most of our customers have taken this approach, as have we. Our customers need advancing technology to develop competitive products. With our increased R&D investment, our market share and absolute revenues grew last year. Analysts like IPC say that we have hit bottom in PCB production and are starting on the way up out of recession. They cite significant future growth in the advanced PCB fabrication technologies, like HDI/microvias, flex and rigid-flex, multi-layer boards with fine line, etc. Commodity technologies, meanwhile, will remain static. Electronics companies will develop faster products that offer more functionality in smaller form factors and cost less to manufacture. As a PCB design tool supplier, we must keep ahead with productive capabilities.

ManncorpHenry Mann, CEO There is no better time than a recession to strengthen Manncorp as a survivor and industry leader. We've expanded our customer relations staff by adding service and sales engineers. We also added a corporate brand manager to improve our core competencies through manufacturing improvements and cost reductions. This includes doubled warranty periods, now in effect for many products. Although new technologies help overcome recessions in our industry, at this time Manncorp is focusing inward on improved customer relations management.

Kyzen Corporation Tom Forsythe, VPWhen times get tough, we revert to our roots. At Kyzen, that meant hunkering down with our customers, helping them realize every penny. We were fortunate that new product introductions of the past several years provided new benefits. There are many innovative, compelling technologies coming to market, and our industry has all but one thing to get us moving: consumer confidence. Consumers are worried, many with good reason. Until their worries subside, we'll be stuck. The upside of relying on consumer moods is that they swing rapidly.

Krayden Inc.Wayne Wagner, presidentWe've survived by sticking with the best suppliers rather than adding product lines. If you concentrate on the right lines in good and bad times, you can grow. The poor economic times are driving more customers to us, looking for inventory, since that was the first cut some made. We did not make personnel layoffs, and have improved service. We are now hiring again. With computing capabilities almost doubling each year, the consumer-driven demand for smaller electronics devices with technical capabilities to do more and last longer brings new challenges for manufacturers. There have been huge advances in thermally conductive and heat transfer materials. New, powerful devices generate a lot of heat. Superior adhesives, sealants, and encapsulants will help meet demands. Manufacturers need technical information to use high-performing and green products, especially in the expanding and competitive solar industry.

KIC Bjorn Dahle, presidentKIC decided not to resort to employee layoffs. Instead, we significantly cut nonessential costs and scaled back the number of days in the work week. We maintained customer support and R&D, accelerating work in these areas. There are several exciting technologies that can improve the economy. U.S. productivity improved strongly when companies laid off workers. To run factories this lean, they need automation and improved process management. Other hot areas are energy efficiency and clean tech. KIC contributes to these areas with thermal process software that saves 15% electricity in reflow ovens, while built-in process expertise and automation allow factories to run higher quality production with lower costs.

 Kester Brian Smith, director of marketing and technologyWe rationalized our manufacturing footprint and modified inventory levels to support the current business level. We've refocus on quality and product development that will be needed post-recession. The launch of Windows 7 may boost PC demand. In telecom, advancements in functionality of iPhone and BlackBerry devices will improve demand. We expect innovations related to conversion to greener materials, and increased emphasis on lead-free and halogen-free materials.

Juki Automation Systems Bob Black, president and CEOWe've survived by increasing market share during the last year and becoming more efficient. According to JARA, Juki's market share in the April–June quarter in the Americas rose to 24.9%, an increase of 7% from a year earlier. While the total market has been steeply down, we are in a position to maximize growth. Our team worked very hard during this slowdown, and deserve thanks. Netbook and smartphone trends will drive the market. Globally, societies are more dependent on being connected to the Internet and to each other at all times. This trend will continue to accelerate.

 IPC – Association Connecting Electronics IndustriesTony Hilvers, VP of industry programsHeated pressure by environmental groups on OEMs as well as new legislation/regulations will challenge the electronic interconnection supply chain to create new materials and processes. The drive for halogen-free or low halogens has created new nonbrominated laminate systems. While low-halogen laminates have been available for some time, reduction of halogens in other electronics materials – PVC, high-performance plastics, solder fluxes – provide new and significant challenges where no drop-in substitutes exist.

Inovaxe Corporation Ken Myers, executive VP & GMWe stayed committed to our long-term strategy. From an equipment and software perspective, the last several quarters have been challenging, but our investment in R&D remained consistent. We'll emerge from the recession a stronger, more customer-centric company with new material handling, software and procurement solutions. Given the fragile economy, I'm not certain one technology will boost us out of recession, despite the focus on eco-solutions. Getting credit flowing to small businesses and stabilizing the housing market are fundamental to sustained economic improvement.

Inovar Inc.Jed Jones, VP sales & marketingWe saw a slight increase in business in 2009, thanks to the quality and diversity of our customer base. Our quality and on-time delivery performance were consistently above 99%. We are a quality- and process-driven domestic partner in manufacturing. Many customers want to increase orders within their typical lead time or pull-in previously scheduled orders. This is exciting, but also stresses the supply chain and component availability. For several years, material/component lead times have been relatively short in abundant supply. Recently, suppliers greatly reduced inventories to deal with the economic downturn. Many component manufacturers reduced capacity. The component makers will be reluctant to increase capacity until they are confident the demand is sustainable. If markets turn up, compressing lead times will be more difficult. Our purchasing department will focus on creative solutions addressing the supply chain in 2010.

Icon TechnologySimon Leow, general managerWe implemented cost containment measures for communications and travel expenses; otherwise, business is normal. We innovate and create. Our interchangeable under-screen cleaner enables users to switch to different-size paper rolls for cost and process control.There is no clear indication as to what the next market driver will be. Several innovations that come to mind are e-books, micro laptops, and display technologies.

High-Tech Conversions Inc.Claudio Orefice, presidentWe grew during the recession. We did not stand around the water cooler re-hashing how bad everything is. We rolled up our sleeves, and got to work. We expanded products currently offered and added new customers. This momentum also results from the positive attitude of our team.

Henkel CorporationDoug Dixon, global marketing directorWhile Henkel implemented cost control measures, we also used the recession to streamline global manufacturing operations and refine our product portfolio. We maintained investment levels and commitment to innovation. This philosophy paid off in ground-breaking materials. The smaller, faster, lighter trend now includes environmental responsibility. Lead-free innovation transformed older-generation processes and, now, follow-up legislation may eliminate restricted materials. These proposals could have a profound economic impact. We see smartphones, e-books, and low-cost computing as product drivers. Entertainment on demand through smaller Web-enabled devices will encourage pay-per-use habits.

 FCT AssemblyMike Scimeca, president and CEOAlthough we reduced costs to combat the weak demand in solder and stencil products, our focus was new product development, so that we can capitalize in the market uptick. We also combined the sales group from our Fineline Stencil and FCT Solder divisions.We believe that there is long-term growth in the electronics industry. As a supplier of stencils and solder paste, FCT Assembly needs to help customers handle the demand of miniaturization in electronics.

EVS International Graham Norman, CEOWe put off non-essential spending due to the recession, and now will expand our product portfolio. We are also revamping our Website for greater worldwide coverage. Microwave and nano-technology to improve efficiencies will help boost the economy. Greater emphasis is on cost reductions because of margin pressure, which will promote electronics recycling.

 Everett Charles TechnologiesJohn Hartner, CEOOur businesses maintained customer support resources and key product development initiatives. We reduced our overall capacity in line with the new market reality, but, with flexibility, maintained a rapid response to customers. We offer financial stability, global presence, and long-term partnerships.Growth will come from the continued penetration of electronics in our lives following the trends of connectivity and mobility. Some likely growth products are netbooks, smartphones, SSDs, and solar cells.

Europlacer, North America John Perrotta, VPWe expanded the number of lending/lease partners we recommend to our prospects/customers. We also secured solid, 0% financing and other new financial products, which help fill the credit void for CMs and OEMs that historically relied on bank financing. While some of our spending and hiring plans were delayed, we've reallocated resources into R&D to optimize future growth. Low-cost software/vision products that enhance FPY in high-mix SMT assembly factories will help us out of recession, as will add-on inventory management tools that enable better margins.

Etek Europe LtdMike Nelson, managing director2009 was a tough year for sales of new and used equipment. Service and application process training, along with spare parts and machine upgrades, helped us through. Our overheads are relatively low, so we managed to increase our engineering department. We are working with customers on their 2010 budgets. Equipment and processes opportunities include AOI, stencil & wave solder pallet cleaning, device programming, screen printing, and selective & wave soldering. Etek Europe recently signed up a finance company to help customers buy new equipment with easy payment terms.

Essemtec AGMartin Ziehbrunner, CEOWe intensified our efficiency program and were able to reduce costs. Investments for R&D increased, ensuring that state-of-the-art machines will be available when the market starts to grow again. Additionally, we extended our distribution network to better support our customers. Recession-busting is a mix of products and service. Machines must be more productive and service must be more effective than in the past. We offer our turnkey philosophy: the best product/service mix at the right time, combined with outstanding service, financing, and remote support possibilities.

DKL Metals Ltd.Colin Longworth, managing directorWe have a diverse product portfolio and a large non-electronic-industry customer base. This helped spread the risk from slowdowns in the electronics assembly market during the recession. Consumer electronics will bounce back with the return of consumer confidence. A silver-/lead-free solder paste alloy has shown improvements for thermal cycling and mechanical shock performance – a replacement for SAC pastes. This alloy and the solar market offer new promise for us and SN100C products.

Digi-Key CorporationMark Larson, president and COOWe have witnessed and endured numerous business cycles; it is our philosophy that along with temporary difficulties come unique opportunities. When business slows, it affords us the opportunity to catch our breath, reassess, and make improvements. We've strengthened our IT infrastructure and streamlined internal business processes. We view this recession as an opportunity to gain market share. Regardless of the economy, design engineers create innovative, next-gen solutions, so we make available components they require to take ideas from the workbench to production. While some cut back on inventory during the downturn, we continued to add new products from new and existing supplier partners. Our Website features more than 30,000 products added in the last 90 days.

DEK InternationalMichael Brianda, presidentWe balanced reductions in our cost structure with preservation of value-driven customer activities in this recession. Despite the fragile economy, DEK continued to invest in R&D for SMT, semiconductor, and solar markets and is launching several products in late 2009. The recession was a time to innovate and strengthen our service portfolio. The consumer market will undoubtedly be led by the communications segment, with traditional laptops challenged by low-cost notebooks and mobile phones yielding to smartphones. Electronic content in automobiles, household products, and toys will increase significantly and will have a positive impact on the industry's economic status. At the component level, flip chip BGAs will maintain their package dominance, followed by QFNs and DCAs. 3D packaging and through silicon via (TSV) technologies will play a large role in device advancement and efficiency. DEK aggressively pursues development of low-cost packaging solutions, such as our 70-µm DirEKt Ball Placement capability, that enable higher quality products. These initiatives, combined with our global presence in key geographies, are serving DEK well as the industry begins to see an upturn.

Datest Corp.Robert Boguski, presidentDatest Corp. adapted by trimming costs to the bone and deferring unneeded expenditures. We also adopted the attitude that this recession presents a unique opportunity to prospect for new business and develop new initiatives. Anything that can conserve energy, promote or contribute to more efficient living, or save persons' or businesses' time, will bring up the economy.

Dage Precision Industries, a Nordson CompanyPhil Vere, managing directorBondtesting equipment and X-ray inspection technology supplier Dage maintained its investment in our large R&D group. As a result, we develop leading-edge inspection solutions that meet customer's most challenging applications.High strain rate bondtesting that assures full compliance with JEDEC standards and X-ray systems with software routines to automatically identify head-in-pillow (HIP) failures are innovations that will keep us at the forefront of inspection. These advances in real-world problem detection help customers improve process control and maximize yields.

CyberOptics Corporation Parito Lee, global marketing manager CyberOptics invested in our businesses to carry on with development efforts. We redefined inspection speed by launching SE500. Also in the pipeline is a new AOI product. Innovations in mobile technologies will form the backbone that will help in boosting the economy. Memory utilization has increased and will indirectly put the memory market in the background as an economy boosting segment. CyberOptics is well-positioned in these markets and equipped with the technological advantage to adapt and cater to their challenging needs.

Cookson ElectronicsTim Williams, regional VP - Alpha, Americas Alpha focuses on key initiatives that create significant value for our customers in this recession. We developed new products based on our in-depth low-silver alloy expertise that enable the ALPHA Dual Alloy SMT Process, which can eliminate either full wave or selective wave soldering for multi-technology boards. Our process knowledge combined with these material technologies eliminated the need for hundreds of wave soldering lines in 2009. Our Customer Teams work with process engineers to quantify value drains in their multi-technology processes in the areas of energy, materials consumption, and labor costs. To address high reliability and product ruggedization, we developed use of Solder Preforms to achieve 100% top-side hole fill in high-volume and maximum first pass yield manufacturing environments. A major focus for our technology development is lower total COO. Ongoing work by our Customer Technical Support group on process improvement projects helps customers reduce costs and stay competitive.

Cogiscan Inc.Francois Monette, co-president, sales & marketingUnlike most capital equipment vendors in our industry we did not experiment any decline during this recession; global revenues increased by 30% over the previous fiscal year. The key factor is our customers' focus on reducing costs. By acting directly on their material cost we have the most impact on their bottom line. Cost reduction will continue to be the main driver for the foreseeable future. In parallel, OEMs increasingly demand defect-free products with complete manufacturing traceability. The Cogiscan Track, Trace, and Control products meet these objectives. They can be implemented quickly with minimal risk or capital investment. Over time, traditional barcode systems are replaced with more efficient technologies like RFID. In today's manufacturing world, we typically see a mixed technology environment where barcode and RFID are used when they make the most economical sense.

Cobar/Balver ZinnStan Renals, managing director & CEO, CobarThis recession has been difficult for many sectors, but we adapted and introduced environmentally friendly products. The current climate has forced companies into lower-cost alloys, and SN100C is one of the most popular alternatives, lowering cost without sacrificing quality. We help customers find lower-cost solutions while helping the environment. We have the low-cost alternative to silver-based alloys in solder bar, wire, and paste, and are introducing low-VOC and VOC-free fluxes, which will reduce transport costs and help the environment.

BTU International Jim Griffin, VP, sales & serviceBTU has adapted to the global recession by leveraging the diversity in our business. Key strategic investment in our expanding solar business enhance product development programs and maintain a strong global infrastructure needed to support customers in both the electronics and solar markets. The increasing global demand for clean energy generation will be a major challenge for all geographic regions. Investment in clean energy will provide opportunities and growth in a variety of business sectors needed to manufacture, implement, and optimize alternative energy power generation and distribution infrastructure. As an example, we continue to see EMS companies find opportunities in the solar market place.

Blue Thunder TechnologiesChris Merow, VPWe hired salespeople, leased more and new office and warehouse space, and hit the streets hard for business. Our company grew double digits again and gained market share. We foresee a surge in orders corresponding with a strengthening economy and growing demand. Americans buying American products; shopping locally, keeping as many dollars in your state or your own community as possible, will aid in economic upturn. Spend a little more on U.S.-made products and 'ending the sending' of all our dollars to China will help.

Bliss Industries Shana Bliss, sales managerBliss Industries has addressed the recession head on. We developed new products, expanded with a new show room, and lowered prices to assist our customers. We have stayed positive and have been fortunate to grow and maintain product quality. The Internet's evolution and connectivity push constant change. The large move for massive data centers will help jump-start our economy again. This will bring so much business to our industry, in particular, to stock and support these centers, which will keep it alive and going strong.

Aqueous TechnologiesMichael Konrad, presidentAqueous meets specific needs for improving product reliability and lifespan by eliminating contamination on post-reflowed circuit assemblies. Our customers' concerns over product reliability do not lessen during recessionary times. On the contrary, increased product reliability is even more desirable today. We reengineered our products to provide best-in-class performance and lowest cost of ownership. We also offered customers zero-interest financing. The buzz word is solar. Between the emphasis on renewable energies and the government's economic stimulus package, there will be considerable investments in solar. We should begin to see a bump in electronics production as industrial inventories are at an historic low, with little inventory reserve. Capital equipment purchases will increase due to pent-up demand for new production equipment. While I believe 2010 will be an improvement over 2009, I doubt we will see double-digit growth.

Alta Manufacturing Craig Arcuri, CEOInnovation. We've embarked on a three-year program to review every part of the manufacturing process, looking for areas where new software, technology, and equipment can reduce costs, decrease turnaround time, and increase quality.Environmental technologies will lead the way up. Widespread public concern and the resulting political will, combined with public and private investment dollars, will create entire new industries, services, and products. As computer processor architectures advance along with improved battery technologies, these will help drive a more interconnected world. The smart electrical grid system, Internet-enabled appliances, and the widespread use of personal communication devices will lead us in directions that we can barely imagine today.

 AIMMike Burgess, technical product managerAIM reacted to the economic slowdown by refocusing efforts and realigning resources to complement market conditions. We also increased investment in R&D to accelerate the release of advanced products quickly and efficiently. Most market sectors are demanding more robust, fine-feature-printing solder paste, as smaller component packages are used for increased functionality and product size reduction. For larger, multilayer boards, there is increased demand for wave solder fluxes that provide better hole fill with low post-wave residues that don't compromise ICT. In addition, products for alternative energy markets represent growth areas for the years ahead. SMT



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