Article Highlights
Catching Up With Fane Friberg: Supply Chain Management Expert
07/03/2020 | Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
This Month in SMT007 Magazine—Electronics Manufacturing: A Critical Industry and Supply Chain
07/01/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
June Issue of SMT007: A Snapshot of a Resilient Industry
06/30/2020 | Tamara Jovanovic, Happiest Baby
Dr. Ron Lasky: A Solder Alloy and Solder Paste Overview
06/19/2020 | I-Connect007 Editorial Team
MTV Offers Solder Paste Testing Solution
06/17/2020 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
SMT :: Business

Latest Articles

Understanding MIL-PRF-31032, Part 1

Over the course of this series, Anaya Vardya will discuss topics such as MIL-PRF-31032 requirements, the quality plan, responsibilities of the Technical Review Board (TRB), and the testing and reporting requirements for the certified shop into the DLA.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

The USMCA trade agreement was just the tip of the iceberg in news affecting our industry this week. We also saw more young people getting involved in the industry, an HDP User Group webinar on automotive thermal issues, and more questions for our own Happy Holden—this time, on stacked microvia reliability, or the lack thereof.

Catching Up With Fane Friberg: Supply Chain Management Expert

Dan Beaulieu recently spoke with Fane Friberg, principal at CEPHAS and a supply chain management expert, about how he started his company, as well as current market challenges he sees and what he thinks the future holds for companies—especially post-pandemic.

IPC: Shawn DuBravac and Chris Mitchell on USMCA

On July 1, 2020, the USMCA trade act (United States-Mexico-Canada Act) phased in as a trade agreement guiding economic trade and growth in North America. Nolan Johnson spoke with both Shawn DuBravac, IPC’s chief economist, and Chris Mitchell, IPC’s vice president of global government affairs and an I-Connect007 columnist, about the impact of USMCA on North American electronics manufacturing.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine—Electronics Manufacturing: A Critical Industry and Supply Chain

Chris Peters represents the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics, where he advocates for electronics manufacturing as a critical industry. Here, he describes the current status, the supply chain, and what he sees in Washington D.C.

June Issue of SMT007: A Snapshot of a Resilient Industry

Tamara Jovanovic, an electrical engineer at Happiest Baby in Los Angeles, never imagined that I would have to take half of my lab equipment home to be able to continue doing her job. As she says in her review of the June issue of SMT007 Magazine, the entire industry is adapting to the "new normal," and ready for whatever the future brings.

I-Connect007 Editor’s Choice: Five Must-Reads for the Week

Updates on trade shows, conferences, and associations dominated industry news this past week. Some events are returning to a physical venue; others are opting for a virtual version in 2020. Add to that a spate of cross-association cooperative agreements and new programs for career development coming from multiple associations, and you’ve delivered four of my top five picks.

Happy Holden Is Taking Your Questions Now

Happy Holden, the industry icon and “Father of HDI,” is ready to answer your questions! What have you always wanted to ask Happy, but never thought you'd have the chance? Now is your chance! Please take a few minutes to jot down your questions for Happy. A select group of answers will be published in upcoming editions of I-Connect007 magazines and newsletters.

Burak Aksoy: An Update on DOWSIL EA-3838 Fast Adhesive

On June 10, Nolan Johnson spoke with Burak Aksoy, technical service and development scientist for Dow Silicones. Aksoy updated Johnson on the recent introduction of DOWSIL™ EA-3838, a fast-curing adhesive formulated for use in industrial manufacturing and assembly applications.

Walt Custer’s EIPC Business Outlook Webinar: ‘You Can’t Sugarcoat This Stuff!’

In normal circumstances, it would have been the time of year for the EIPC Summer Conference, and Walt Custer would have opened the proceedings with his business outlook for the global electronics industry. However, circumstances were far from normal. Pete Starkey discusses some of the takeaways from Custer's global business outlook webinar, organized by EIPC.


Book Excerpt: Cornerstone of Smart Manufacturing—The Convergence of IT and OT

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 2 of the I-Connect007 eBook The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to… Advanced Manufacturing in the Digital Age, written by Oren Manor of Siemens, a Siemens Business.

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Optoelectronics

Continuing the series of webinars highlighting recently-published chapters of iNEMI’s 2019 Roadmap—the comprehensive guidebook to the future goals and needs of the electronics manufacturing industry—the installment on optoelectronics examined and discussed data transmission by optical technology. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

Where The Jobs Are: The I-Connect007 Help Wanted Pages

If you’re looking for a career in the PCB industry—design, fabrication, or assembly—the I-Connect007 Career Opportunities section, jobconnect007.com, is the first place you should look. Right now, there are job openings for positions that span the entire circuit board supply chain, and you can submit your resume directly to the hiring managers by clicking on the ad.

The iNEMI 2019 Roadmap: Flexible Hybrid Electronics

The emerging trend for “electronics on everything, everything with electronics” was the theme of iNEMI’s webinar presentation of the highlights of its recently published Flexible Hybrid Electronics Roadmap Chapter, delivered by Girish Wable, senior engineering services manager with Jabil. Pete Starkey provides an overview.

SpaceX Manned Mission Promises More Success for Milaero and Electronics Manufacturing

On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first non-governmental organization to send human cargo into orbit and to a successful docking rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). On June 1, Nolan Johnson spoke with military/aerospace consultant and I-Connect007 columnist Mike Hill about the significance of this mission.

IPC’s Shawn Dubravac: COVID-19 Outbreak Accelerates Industry Shifts Already Under Way

On May 19, Barry Matties spoke with Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for IPC. While discussing other topics, Matties asked for Dubravac’s perspective on shifts in the market, who observed that the recessionary trend might be behind us; the markets are already showing recovery. Still, it could take a year or so to fully recover.

Survey: Lessons Learned in Unparalleled Times

Parents often share nuggets of wisdom with their children in hopes that they won’t repeat past mistakes. But what do our electronics industry leaders want to share about lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis?

KYZEN’s Tom Forsythe: The Effects of COVID-19

On May 7, Barry Matties and Tom Forsythe, executive vice president at KYZEN, discussed the effects of COVID-19. During the conversation, Forsythe addressed KYZEN’s strategy to keep the staff and employees healthy as the foremost concern. He also detailed recent changes in interacting with customers and his take on what will be the new long-term changes in how the company does business versus short-term accommodations.

IPC's Dr. John Mitchell: Leadership in Times of Crisis

On May 13, Dr. John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, spoke with Barry Matties and Nolan Johnson in another installment in our series of industry updates. In this interview, Mitchell discussed the challenges of leadership in crisis situations.

Happy Holden's Essential Skills: Online Instruction and Distance Learning

Online courses have become increasingly available and popular. For this to be effective, specific requirements must be met for courses taken or produced over the internet in order to provide the user with a positive experience. Read Happy Holden's updated article from his series on 25 essential skills for engineers.


I-Connect007 Survey: Lessons Learned During COVID-19 Lockdown

In a recent survey, we asked I-Connect007 readers about lessons that they and their companies have learned since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Survey respondents were asked to pick up to three areas of business operations where the most important lessons have been learned.

Counseling Startups From Design Through NPI

Andy Shaughnessy and Happy Holden sat down for an interview with Richard Marshall, CEO of Xitex Limited, a company based in the U.K. that provides consultancy to startups launching wired and wirelessly connected products. Richard explains some of the most common factors companies overlook when introducing a new product. He also discusses one startup’s new product—a Fitbit-type device worn by horses—and why he advises startups to “Make your mistakes close to home.”

Smart Factory Implementation, Part 2

During one of our recent interviews, conducted as government leaders around the globe were issuing lockdowns, an industry expert had to pause and whisper some gentle and loving “goodnight and sleep well” words to a small child who was headed off to bed. Under these conditions, we’re working with our families and loved ones gathered close. It reminds me that we all have people for whom we do our work, strive to build successful businesses, and make the world a better place.

The Convergence of Technologies and Standards in Smart Manufacturing

Ranjan Chatterjee of Cimetrix and Daniel Gamota of Jabil teamed up to bring you this article, originally published as the paper "The Convergence of Technologies and Standards Across the Electronic Products Manufacturing Industry (SEMI, OSAT, and PCBA) to Realize Smart Manufacturing."

Aurora Circuits’ Chris Kalmus Offers PCBs for Ventilators at No Charge

Electronics manufacturers continue to step up to the plate during these uncertain times. In this interview, Dan Beaulieu speaks with Chris Kalmus, owner of Aurora Circuits in Aurora, Illinois, who announced on April 24 that his company would be offering PCBs for ventilators free of charge.

Case Study: Example of ASKEY Applying QML Validation

The PCB007 China team paid a visit to the ASKEY plant in Wujiang, Jiangsu, to learn more about their QML process. In this interview with Qixian Zhang, vice GM of ASKEY’s Electronics Product Quality Assurance Department, he discusses what QML means to ASKEY and the electronics industry as a whole.

Automation War Stories From ICM Controls

Members of the I-Connect007 editorial team met with Andy Kadah, president of ICM Controls, and Kevin Jobsky, senior marketing manager, via teleconference on March 20, 2020. Originally, the purpose of our conversation was to discuss factory automation implementation details. Yet, we conducted the interview in the midst of a rapid-fire and wide-ranging onslaught of executive orders from the federal level on down to the local level meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Foundation of Industry 4.0

When adopting IoT solutions, start with three main considerations. First, assess which parts of the production cycle can be automated and/or monitored most effectively with IoT devices connected to an analytics platform. IoT technology should be matched to the production cycle of your operation.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Exclusive Interview With Burt Rutan, Aerospace Legend

If you follow advancements in aerospace technologies and expeditions, then you know the name Burt Rutan. Described by Newsweek as “the man responsible for more innovations in modern aviation than any living engineer,” Rutan is a bold visionary with a passion for the advancement of technology, who has designed 46 aircraft throughout his career. Following his IPC APEX EXPO keynote presentation, Rutan stopped by the I-Connect007 booth and shared his thoughts on a wide variety of topics.

Mentor's Oren Manor on Automation Business Adjustments

Oren Manor, director of business development at Mentor, a Siemens Business, shares an update with Barry Matties on the recent COVID-19 outbreak. Manor describes how Mentor's automation business operations have adjusted. Manor also provides some projections on how manufacturing may need to adjust as the global economies come out of this time.


Matt Stevenson on Sunstone Circuits' Current Operations

Nolan Johnson speaks with Matt Stevenson, VP of marketing at Sunstone Circuits, who shares an update on the company's current level of business operations under COVID-19 restrictions. Stevenson confirms that Sunstone Circuits is fully operational and classified as an essential business.

AIM Appoints Oscar Hernandez as Sales Manager for Queretaro and Bajio Regions Mexico

AIM Solder, a leading global manufacturer of solder assembly materials for the electronics industry, is pleased to announce the appointment of Oscar Hernandez to the position of Sales Manager for the Queretaro and Bajio regions of Mexico.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine: Business Practices Drive the Smart Factory, Not the Other Way Around (Part 1)

In Part 1 of this conversation, Sagi Reuven— business development manager at Mentor, a Siemens Business—makes the case that smart factory implementations must start with traditional process analysis and improvement before the data capture process is useful. He also covers how sometimes the key to utilizing Industry 4.0 comes from a change in mindset rather than a drastic change or investment in new equipment or processes.

Watch It! The Perils of Technology Transfer (Selective Spray vs. Selective Dip Application)

The tenth episode of the popular micro webinar series “Coatings Uncoated!” is now available to view. Author of The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to...Conformal Coatings for Harsh Environments and topic expert Phil Kinner from Electrolube shares highly focused educational information on conformal coating and encapsulation. If you are in the assembly business, an EMS company, or responsible for specifying conformal coating and/or encapsulation, then this free series is for you.

Evolving Solder Capabilities for Shrinking Components

Taiyo’s Yuya Suzuki, marketing manager for IC packaging materials, talks with Nolan Johnson and Dan Feinberg about the challenges with soldering due to shrinking components and how Taiyo’s R&D work around smaller filler sizes and increased planarity has been preparing them for the future of solder mask.

Semiconductors in Charge: The Changing Face of PCB Manufacturing

The I-Connect007 editorial team recently spoke with Chuck Bauer and Dana Korf in a technical discussion that spanned a number of topics around shrinking components, such as redistribution layers (RDLs), active embeddeds, and why even the most revolutionary technologies must show ROI to be successful.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Gerry Padnos

"Overall, it has been a successful show for us," said Gerry Padnos. "We have mainly seen serious shoppers, not just window shoppers. We have done a lot of good work here, and we have a lot of interest in our products."

Michael Ford Explains the Benefits of IPC-CFX

In this video interview from the show, Guest Editor Dan Beaulieu and Michael Ford, senior director of emerging industry strategy at Aegis Software, discuss the IPC-CFX standard that allows machines to communicate with other machines. They also focus on some strategies that can turn any factory with old or new equipment into a smart factory.

This Month in SMT007 Magazine

We recently surveyed readers on the topic of smart factories, specifically exploring reader perceptions of what a smart factory entails, along with implementation plans that may be on readers’ minds. Looking at how respondents ranked their top three from this list of 10 objectives, some patterns do emerge.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Mike Montesi

"One of the biggest challenges for me selling is educating customers that they can generate oxygen and nitrogen on their own for up to 90% savings versus getting trucked in deliveries," said Mike Montesi of On Site Gas Systems. "It’s all about education because 98–99% of customers are used to the high cost of delivered gases, where we can separate it on-site with their own equipment, and the payback is typically under a year."


IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Joel Scutchfield

"Based on traffic and attendance, we have had a great week. We had 40+ more scans than what we did last year at this point, and we’re waiting for the final tally today," said Joel Scutchfield, Koh Young's director of sales for the Americas.

IPC APEX EXPO 2020 Attendees Speak: Dr. Martin Anselm

"The biggest challenge I’ve encountered a number of different times is the migration to much larger packaging," said Dr. Martin Anselm, director of CEMA Lab. "Devices are getting much larger, and with the thousands of I/O of solder joints, and they are not just single-die, multi-chip modules in different forms or 2.5D technologies.

Phil Carmichael: IPC Asia Continues Solid Growth

Phil Carmichael, IPC president of Asia Pacific, talks with Barry Matties at the HKPCA show during the first week of December 2019 about the continued growth and increased engagement by Asian member companies with IPC, with over 320 members in standards committees now working on the development of the next-generation standards.

‘A Night of Happy-ness’ and 2020 Good for the Industry Awards

The Horton Grand Hotel in San Diego was the site of “A Night of Happy-ness” on the evening of Monday, February 3, 2020. I-Connect007 transformed the Regal Ballroom into a cozy lecture hall with two key objectives: to award the I-Connect007 Good for the Industry awards, and to celebrate the life, achievements, and personality that is industry pioneer Happy Holden.

New From I-007e Micro Webinars: Part 2 in ‘Coatings Uncoated!’ Series

Got five minutes? Watch Phil Kinner's the latest segment, Never Underestimate the Importance of the Application Process, which examines the pivotal role that application plays in the overall success of coating, and presents a great opportunity to grasp the importance of the process.

Upgrading to a Digital Line

Ridhi Kantelal of Arch Systems breaks down what fabricators considering bringing in digitalization and upgrading their lines should know, and why they may see the most benefit from focusing on the data engineering aspect rather than the actual retrofitting of their systems.

The Convergence of 5G and Automotive

Karthik Vijay is head of the applications engineering team for customers in Europe at Indium Corporation. He spoke with Barry Matties about what EMS or assemblers for automotive should consider, as well as how he thinks 5G will affect the marketplace and manufacturing.

CyberOptics Sensors: So Good That Their Rivals Use Them

Editor Nolan Johnson and Subodh discuss CyberOptics’ latest precision 3D systems, such as the SQ3000, which offers AOI, SPI and CMM functionalities. The inline CMM system includes top-of-the-line software for metrology grade measurements of critical points. Subodh points out that some of his competitors even utilize CyberOptics sensors in their equipment.

Is Captive Making a Comeback?

Andy Shaughnessy recently spoke with Altium’s Steve Chalgren, senior VP of business strategy and planning. Steve shared his thoughts about why improved manufacturing and automated EMS equipment, such as robotics, might lead smaller OEMs to become captive shops like the old days. Is captive making a comeback?

Accurate, Uniform Data With KIC’s Smart Reflow Analyzer

Editor Nolan Johnson and Miles discuss KIC’s newest system, the SRA, a smart reflow analyzer that can provide the customer with information about their machines: Is the airflow adequate? Is there proper heat transfer to the product? Is this data uniform from week to week and month to month? Miles explains how the SRA uses the latest in laser technology to track conveyor speed and heat transfer more accurately than ever.


Practical Verification of Void Reduction Method for BTC Using Exposed Via-in-pad

The method explored in this article regards the use of exposed via-in-pad. A dedicated test vehicle was designed for two types of QFN components. The main variables accounted for were the component size, number of exposed vias in the thermal pad, via pitch, via size, and solder paste coverage. The responses sought in this experiment include a thermal pad void level and solder wicking down the via barrel with resulting solder protrusion on the opposite side of the PCB.

Mirtec's Approach to Raw Data: The 'Sushi Principle'

Editor Pete Starkey and Brian D’Amico discuss the company’s new Alpha system, designed for the automotive market. D’Amico explains why Mirtec is focusing on providing customers with raw data instead of “cooked” data, what he terms the “sushi principle.” He says that the system is able to pick up tiny defects that would otherwise be filtered away if the system were not using raw data. D’Amico also discusses their use of artificial intelligence, and some of the possible benefits from using AI going forward.

Supply Chain Update and the Impact of 5G

I caught up with Stephanie Martin, senior VP of global supply at Vexos, to talk about the current landscape of the industry from an EMS perspective. Stephanie describes an ongoing technology shift occurring with the industry’s move to smaller case sizes and why it’s in the customer’s best interest to look at the design cycle and go as small as they can on components.

The Digital Medical Revolution

Zulki Khan, founder and CEO of NexLogic Technologies Inc., offers his unique perspective on manufacturing trends as a PCB turnkey solutions provider based in Silicon Valley. He discusses additional requirements that are now necessary to compete in different industry sectors, most notably medical, which he says is set for a “digital revolution.”

Oren Manor on the Siemens-Mentor Integration

In this video interview, part of the productronica coverage, the I-Connect007 team speaks with Oren Manor, director of business development for Siemens, in the Siemens booth. Oren introduces us to the in-booth production equipment that integrates factory automation, motion controls, and MES solutions. He points out that the recent effort to automate SMT lines is now expanding into the areas of final assembly, box build, and manual assembly as well.

Merger and Acquisition Trends

In this interview with the I-Connect007 Editorial Team, Green Circuits’ Joe O’Neil breaks down the current merger and acquisition (M&A) market in the electronics manufacturing space and the industry trends that affect it. Joe also gives his advice on best practices for the negotiating table from both the buyer’s or seller’s perspective.

The Changing Landscape

SMTAI featured two keynote speakers: Adam Steltzner, a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer who led the Mars Science Laboratory's Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) Phase for the Curiosity rover and the chief engineer for the Mars 2020 Project; and Dr. Mike Hawes, Lockheed Martin Vice President for Human Space Exploration and Orion Program Manager. The energy at both keynotes was palpable. We’re returning to extra-orbital space with human crews, and the demands of such missions drive innovation.

Is Your EMS Partner Up to Speed With WEEE 'Open Scope?'

E-waste encompasses a myriad of "unseen" metals, semi-metals, and chemical compounds that are found inside circuit boards, wires, and electrical connections. If not handled correctly, chemicals—such as cadmium, barium, lithium, lead, mercury, and beryllium—can present a significant health risk through direct contact, the inhalation of toxic fumes, or the build-up of toxins in water, soil, and food products.

SMTAI 2019: Juan Arango Discusses Koh Young America's New Headquarters

Andy Shaughnessy speaks with Juan Arango, managing director of Koh Young America, about their new corporate headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, which is located near most of their U.S. customer base.

Real Time with… SMTAI 2019 Slideshow

The SMTA International 2019 Conference and Exhibition closed last week on a high note. For those who were not able to attend the event, held at Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, the slideshow contains a selection of photos from the exhibition show floor as well as the conference.


SMTA 2019 International Awards

The SMTA International conference—held September 22–29, 2019, at the Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois—honored industry members with awards for their contributions to the industry. I-Connect007 has compiled an unofficial list of award recipients. The official list from SMTA will be released shortly, and I-Connect007 will publish it as soon as it is available.

Real Time with... SMTAI 2019 Videos Now Live

If you couldn't make it to SMTAI 2019, be sure to catch I-Connect007’s video interviews with the movers and shakers of the electronics industry. We’ve updated our video presentation for a better experience for our users, so check it out!

Combating ESD: The Silent Assassin in Electronics Manufacturing

ESD is a constant but invisible force within electronics manufacturing that can have a powerfully detrimental impact on production yield, product and product reliability, and company profitability. And as the circuitry within electronic devices continues to get faster, smaller, and more sophisticated, their sensitivity to the effects of ESD is only likely to increase.

Additive Electronics Conference Set for October 2019

Tara Dunn, president of Omni PCB and I-Connect007 columnist, and Lenora Clark, director of autonomous driving and safety technology at MacDermid Alpha Automotive, discuss what can be expected from the upcoming Additive Electronics Conference in San Jose, California, the impetus and motivation behind the conference, and who can benefit the most from attending.

Meet Chris Ellis, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Chris Ellis, one of our newest SMT007 columnists! In his columns, Ellis addresses common problems that Manncorp customers have had with the in-house conversion process, and shares solutions that have worked in the past.

SigmaTron Reports Q1 Financial Results for Fiscal 2020

Revenues increased to $74.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2020 from $71.4 million for the same quarter in the prior year.

How Digitalization Is Transforming the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

The rise of the "digital" supply network—such as the cloud, big data, 3D printing, augmented reality, or the internet of things (IoT)—promises to address issues such as increasing global competition, rising consumer expectations, and the increasingly complex patterns of consumer demand, by providing a greater level of transparency, innovation, and resiliency. And there is a growing belief among business strategists that the more digitalized our manufacturing supply chains can become, the greater our efficiency will be.

Selecting the Proper Flex Coverlayer Material

Coverlayers are polymer materials used to cover and protect the copper traces of the flex circuit product. There are a number of different options available for protecting the circuits, and they serve different design requirements in terms of cost, performance, and flexural endurance optimization. When specifying the choice, it is critical to call out not just the type of coverlayer material but also the thickness requirement. This can be very important in certain types of constructions, especially when a flex circuit will experience dynamic flexing during use.

eSMART Factory Conference 2019, Day 2

Happy Holden continues his report on the the eSMART Factory Conference Dearborn, Michigan, with highlights from the event's second day, which includes a keynote from Brian Toleno titled "Augmented Reality: Next-Generation Computing for Front-Line Workers."

Meet Dr. Bill Cardoso, SMT007 Columnist

Dr. Bill Cardoso started his first company at age 17 in Brazil, selling it a few years later to work for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he led research in nuclear physics to build the equipment that discovered the Higgs Boson (and the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics). After 10 years at Fermilab, he moved from Chicago to sunny San Diego to start Creative Electron in his garage in 2008.


Whizz Systems on Competing in Silicon Valley

Whizz Systems is an EMS provider located in Silicon Valley that has managed to survive and thrive through many of the industry ups and downs of the past two decades. President Muhammad Irfan discusses the company's assembly and design services, as well as trends he’s seeing from the industry in the Valley. He also details how choosing the right type of customer has led Whizz to see sustained success in one of the most difficult and expensive areas for an assembly shop to survive.

Seven Key Steps to Selecting a New EMS Partner

Choosing to outsource your electronics manufacturing to an EMS provider requires careful planning and consideration. And even once you’ve made your decision, there may still be things that test you or that don’t go quite to plan. An experienced EMS partner has been there before; they understand the challenges, and they’ll be able to support you through the process to ensure you achieve your goals.

IEEE's Future Directions Programs Target Reliability

Dan Feinberg speaks with Kathy Grise, IEEE Future Directions senior program director, at the AWE conference recently in San Jose, California. In this excerpt, Dan and Kathy discuss the importance of reliability, blockchain, recruiting younger generations, etc.

Which Matters Most: Unit Cost or Total Cost of Supply?

The primary objective for any OEM is to design, manufacture, and deliver high-quality products in the most cost-effective way possible. When demand patterns change, or there is an increase in competition, it can be easy to rely on the calculation of unit cost to relieve the price pressure. But, as many manufacturers are discovering, choosing to base their outsourcing decisions purely on unit cost may not always reap the expected benefits in the long term.

How Do I Get Smart With IPC CFX? (Part 2)

The introduction of the CFX standard is the critical trigger that enables smart, flexible factory operation in line with business needs. The technology is simple to adopt, which creates a true “plug-and-play” environment on which advanced production AI software technologies can be developed.

Outsourcing Electronics Manufacturing: Key to Growth?

Deciding to outsource part or all of your electronics manufacturing operations could provide the means to increase production capacity and improve your sales lead times. But before you choose to hand over responsibility to an EMS provider, it’s important to take stock not just of the tangible benefits but also of the potential risks.

How Do I Get Smart With IPC CFX? (Part 1)

Today's assembly factories are seeing the biggest challenge to face the industry in a generation, called by many the next industrial revolution. However, in essence, the challenge is a simple extrapolation of trends that have been occurring and increasing in assembly manufacturing for decades. In Part 1 of this two-part article, Michael Ford writes about the history behind the drive for automation in the SMT assembly industry and where CFX fits in.

Smart Manufacturing Roadmap: Data Flow Considerations for the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

The 2019 iNEMI Roadmap features a new chapter on smart manufacturing. The chapter identifies key technology gaps and needs and offers recommendations to guide the electronics manufacturing industry in realizing the benefits of smart manufacturing. This article is based on information excerpted from the chapter.

Reliability vs. Failure

Summer is officially underway here in the Northern Hemisphere, and just like the temperatures, we’re turning up the heat in this issue and getting technical. Enter “Reliability Man,” the hero who must persevere against all the challenges thrown in his path.

AWE 2019: Go XR, Be Awesome

Dan Feinberg attended and covered the recent 2019 Augmented World Expo (AWE) and conference in Santa Clara, California. The event featured the latest developments and technologies in augmented (AR), mixed (MR), virtual (VR), and extended virtual reality (many just call it all XR to make it simple). Here's a wrap-up of the event.


4 Key Considerations When Auditing a New EMS Partner

Choosing whether (or not) to outsource your electronics manufacturing is likely to bring with it a multitude of questions—and some understandable doubts. Outsourcing is a critical decision—and it’s one that will rely on thorough research, close examination and the asking of some tough questions. This article summarizes four key areas that you'll want to scrutinize as you embark on your supplier selection process.

Smart Factory Transitions Are Attainable—With a Plan

In a white paper, Zac Elliott, technical marketing engineer at Mentor, a Siemens company, outlines a structured organization for smart factory implementation. While there can be one set of challenges to overcome when building a smart factory on a greenfield site, firms restricted to pre-existing facilities face a different set of hurdles. In this interview, Elliott discusses how things have proceeded since the paper was published, and talks about strategies for smaller firms and brownfield companies.

Streamlining, but Streamlining What?

Electronics continue to grow in application areas, capabilities, and complexities. With such growth in the raw number of circuit boards being produced globally, the pressure is on to build more faster with higher quality and greater reliability. But this isn't new. What is new is the thinking and problem-solving that will need to happen at the manufacturing floor level to deliver on this coming need.

Collaboratively Creating Wearable Medical Products

Patty Goldman, Barry Matties, and Happy Holden recently spoke with David Moody and Rich Clemente of Lenthor Engineering along with Anthony Flattery and Amit Rushi—their customers at GraftWorx. They discussed a recent project and how they worked together to solve a difficult problem by designing a rigidized flex circuit for their product.

4 Ways Electronics Manufacturers are Growing Their Businesses in 2019

At a time when many manufacturers are struggling to remain profitable, and with the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations still looming large, finding new ways to nurture and grow your electronics manufacturing business has never been more crucial. Yet, despite the current challenges, some EMS providers are bucking the trend with reports of sustained growth. Here is their secret.

Whizz Systems on Knowing Your Strengths and Building Customer Relationships

Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, Whizz Systems Inc. provides electronics product design, development and manufacturing services. Muhammed Irfan, president of the company, speaks with Nolan Johnson about knowing your strengths, engaging start-ups, and building strong customer relationships through education and preparation.

Co-owner Philip Kazmierowicz on New Role as KIC President

KIC is one of the leaders in reflow and thermal process control and smart oven technologies. On March 25, 2019, KIC announced that Philip Kazmierowicz, company co-owner, would take on the position of president. Nolan Johnson took that opportunity to sit down with Kazmierowicz in his Oregon-based R&D lab to discuss KIC's history and his plans for the future of the company.

Green Circuits' Three Tips to Be a Well-prepared Customer

Nolan Johnson speaks with Joe Garcia, VP of sales and marketing at Green Circuits, about how they can help on both the front and back end of the process, their hidden gem—design services—as well as three tips to be a well-prepared customer.

Communication and Information: Two Keys to Success

Nolan Johnson and Duane Benson, an I-Connect007 columnist and a representative from Milwaukee Electronics, discuss how assemblers can help their customers through submitting and maintaining accurate information, and engaging in open communication early and often about the highly important bill of materials.

From DataED’s NPI Center to the Manufacturing Floor

The I-Connecct007 team recently spoke with a team of technologists and managers at Data Electronic Devices (DataED). Jeff Hamlett, director of sales and marketing; Lori Giglio, general manager at the NPI Engineering Center; Vic Giglio, president and CEO; and Ron Sprizza, VP of quality for DataED, provided an overview of the importance of company culture and making your customers the first priority.


Incoming CEO Steve Pudles on the Acquisition of Zentech

Nolan Johnson talks to Steve Pudles about the recent acquisition of Zentech Manufacturing Inc. by BlackBern Partners LLC and Zentech management. Steve, also an investor in Zentech, steps in as the incoming CEO of the new organization and discusses the deal, his new role, changes to management, and the company's plans post-sale.

The One Thing

The vast majority of the problems that we run into fall to the categories of communication and information. As with the old 'telephone game,' each time information goes from one party to another, the risk of misinterpretation increases. If we are given unclear information from a customer, we may not be able to give the right information to our partner.

Five Key Questions Your EMS Partner Should Be Asking in the Supplier Selection Process

As we've continued to observe the impact of the ongoing global electronics components shortage, any challenge to the supply chain has the potential to cause major disruption. Whether you currently manage your own end-to-end electronics manufacturing, or you have opted to outsource to an EMS provider, there are five essential issues (and potential risks) to bear in mind when assessing the value and reliability of any proposed new supplier.

Catching up With Darrel Yarbrough of YES

Yarbrough Electronic Sales (YES) is one of the fastest growing contract manufacturers in the Southwest. As people get to know them better, they are becoming the go-to company in their area. In this interview, long-time industry veteran Darrel Yarbrough, owner of YES, provides a background about the company, its capabilities, and his outlook for the industry.

The Perfect Job

After all the days and weeks invested into developing the schematic, the PCB design, poring over the data sheets and online libraries for component parts, and running the calculations for mechanical clearances inside the enclosure, you—designers—are ready to be done. You're ready for the next design challenge—not for a week or so perfecting the bill of materials and the design notes. And there's the rub. Find out why.

Zentech's Mission-critical Tips for Program Success

Nolan Johnson and John Vaughan, I-Connect007 columnist and VP of sales and marketing at Zentech Manufacturing, discuss how to make customer programs successful through early communication, complete design packages, and more from a company servicing mission- and life-critical industries, including military, aerospace, and medical.

IPC Asia President Phil Carmichael on China Trends

At the productronica China 2019 show in Shanghai, Barry Matties joined Phil Carmichael, president of IPC Asia, to discuss the continued growth of IPC in Asia, including the increasing emphasis on training. IPC China has grown from hosting two technical conferences five years ago to 32 in the past year. Phil also addresses current trends he’s seeing as well as trade tensions between China and the U.S.

How Electronics Manufacturers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact

With OEMs demanding ever greater value for money from their suppliers, EMS providers can find themselves facing increasing pressure on every front. To remain competitive, there's a growing recognition of the need to continually improve, adapt, and evolve the manufacturing process.

Cadence Design Systems Takes Tensilica to CES Show Floor

While roaming the aisles of CES, I happened across a suite hosted by Cadence Design Systems. It wasn’t a booth—just a quiet presence behind walls with demonstration hardware inside. Vic Markarian, senior group director for worldwide IP licensing and sales, explains why Cadence was at CES.

Lionrock Delivers Bendable, Industrial-grade Battery Tech

David Yeung, co-founder and CEO of Lionrock Batteries, discusses previous projects—including smartwatch straps—and his collaboration with the Nano and Advanced Materials Institute (NAMI) in Hong Kong on wearable, flexible battery technology at CES 2019.


From Participant to Volunteer to Leader: Matt Smith on the IEEE Rising Stars Conference

Matt Smith is one of the volunteer organizers for the IEEE Rising Stars Conference. As if that’s not enough, Matt also is an example of the impact this program can have on a young professional. In this interview, Matt provides an overview of the programs and what the conference strives to create for the attendees.

DSG: Breaking Ground on the Smart Factory Revolution

Mauro Dallora leads the I-Connect007 team through the Dongguan Somacis Graphic (DSG) PCB Co. Ltd. facility in China, lays out the company’s strategy for becoming an Industry 4.0 smart factory, and explains the current ongoing major expansion. Read about various topics in this factory tour and interview.

A Young Engineer’s Perspective

Jeffrey Diament, a recent Princeton University graduate and an engineering associate from sensor manufacturer Instrumems, talks about the company’s nanowire sensing platform that can measure velocity, temperature, and humidity. Being his first career job out of college, Diament discusses his experience on the hardware and manufacturing side of things and offers advice to other young professionals.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: IPC Global Government Relations Initiatives and Updates

IPC VP of Global Government Relations Chris Mitchell discusses with Judy Warner the association’s initiatives such as the IPC Workforce Champions, the skills gap analysis, and how IPC plans to advocate for the industry and grow the supply chain in North America and around the world.

Building a Smart Factory Supply Line

I-Connect007 recently toured Victory Giant Technology (VGT) Co. Ltd. in Huizhou, China—one of China’s largest PCB producers. Currently, VGT generates about US$500 million in annual sales, and have plans to reach $1.5 billion in the coming years. Read more to find out VGT's expansion plans and strategies for growth.

IEEE Rising Stars Conference Founder: Empowering Young Professionals

Held each year in Las Vegas on the weekend preceding CES, the IEEE Rising Stars Conference is rapidly establishing itself as a model program for developing leadership, networking, and aptitude in navigating an organizational structure in technical students and young professionals. Michael Andrews, an IEEE Senior Life member, serial entrepreneur, and founder of the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, tells us more.

Filling the Skills Gap: Strategic Hiring and Succession Planning

While attending the IEEE Rising Stars Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, I had a long and insightful conversation with veteran technical recruiter Terry McNabb. We covered so much information that the interview has been broken into two sections. This section features our discussion on the shortage of mid-career expertise in the workforce and best practices for hiring experienced technical staff.

Octane Open Concept Solution: Innovative Analytics and Floor-control Software

Octane Open Concept targets the contract manufacturer and is well along in the development process for a pair of software tools designed to optimize assembly and testing results tracking on the manufacturing floor. In an interview, CEO Craig Reiselt discusses the company and the products and opportunities in front of Octane.

No Rest for the Weary: Supply Chain Pressures Are Here to Stay!

As we leave 2018 behind, it should be noted that the challenges faced by all consumers of electronic components in our industry this year have stretched teams both physically and mentally. We will continue to see pressures across the supply chain through 2019 and beyond, so there is no rest for the weary.

Impact of 5G

In our recent I-Connect007 survey on 5G, we asked the following question: "How do you think 5G will impact the electronics manufacturing industry?" Below are some of the replies, edited slightly for clarity.


Tom Lavoie on Career Planning and Professional Development

In this interview at the IEEE Rising Stars Conference, Tom Lavoie, a former HP D-level executive and now president of Consensia IT Partners and a certified Focal Point business coach, discusses how to help entry-level technical stars get their careers started with a plan, and experienced executives enhance their professional skills.

2019 IPC EMS Management Meeting Wrap-up

At the recent EMS Management Meeting during IPC APEX EXPO 2019, EMS leaders gathered to discuss issues critical to EMS providers today, including supply chain issues, customer contracts, labor optimization and talent shortages. The highlight of the day was a supply chain challenges panel and discussion featuring supplier, distributor, and end-user perspectives on addressing component supply and lead time challenges.

Industry Outlook from IPC's Sharon Starr

Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research, provides updates on the EMS and PCB industry outlook, benefits of IPC membership and participation, plans to expand the EMS statistical program, and new studies being published.

What Drives Your Optimism?

In our previous I-Connect007 survey, we asked the following question: "What drives your optimism?" Here are just a few of the replies, slightly edited for clarity.

Digi-Key’s Dave Doherty: Tweaking the Supply Chain

In an interview with I-Connect007, Digi-Key COO Dave Doherty discusses supply chain disruptions and shortages and shares a number of ways in which Digi-Key is helping to smooth out the delivery of components even with the current turmoil.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO 2019: Five-year Standard Committee Collaboration on JS-001

David Hillman from Collins Aerospace and IPC's Teresa Rowe speak with Editor Dan Feinberg about how a seemingly simple question resulted in years of committee work to develop the JS-001 standard on the use of conformal coatings and avoiding tin whiskers.

Dan Schoenfelder: Searching for Parts in Real Time

The I-Connect007 editors recently sat down with Dan Schoenfelder, vice president of business development at Octopart. We discussed online parts libraries and the impact they can have on choosing parts based on availability data during the design process.

Improving the Efficiency of Your PCBA Production

Ensuring you're hitting your build times is always a major priority in surface mount production. The challenge for many OEMs, however, is that the processes involved with PCBA can be numerous and complex. And the smallest of details can make the biggest of differences.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Zentech on the Fourth Pillar of DoD Acquisitions, and NIST

Steve Williams speaks with John Vaughan, VP of sales and marketing for Zentech, about their dominance in the military/aerospace market sector, the new "fourth pillar of DoD acquisitions," and how companies that do not take the NIST initiative seriously will be quickly left behind.

The Sun Rises on IPC APEX EXPO 2019

It's sunrise on Monday in San Diego, and IPC APEX EXPO at the San Diego Convention Center is already abuzz with activity. The exhibition hall setup is on schedule to open for business tomorrow morning, January 29th, 2019.


In the Studio: Real Time with…IPC

It's almost time for IPC APEX EXPO 2019 at the San Diego Convention Center, and that means another Real Time with…IPC video program bringing you interviews with the electronics industry's top movers and shakers, engineers, and managers.

The Future of the Customer Experience in Mobility

Based on the protocol stack that starts with 5G, moves up to AI, and continues to layer integrations and user interfaces and experiences on top of those lower-level technologies, how does this all apply to the current mobile experience? A panel on the future of mobility with representatives from several major companies covered this and more at CES.

Shopping at IPC APEX EXPO: Evolutionary or Revolutionary Products?

As you're finalizing your shopping list, take a second to consider this: Are you in the market for products that are evolutionary or revolutionary? And what do those terms even mean for someone looking for new DFM software or a new pick-and-place machine?

Dispatches from CES 2019: The Future in the Kickoff

Press kickoff briefings at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are no stranger to big claims and hyperboles. At the “CES 2019 Trends to Watch” presentation on Monday morning, Steve Koenig, Consumer Technology Association’s (CTA’s) VP of market research, made some pretty big claims about what we should expect to see at the show, but those claims don't seem at all to be hyperbolized.

Welcome to the BIG Show!

This month, we celebrate the impact and reach of the IPC APEX EXPO slated for January 26--31, 2019, in San Diego, California. Have something truly new? It needs to be seen here at IPC APEX EXPO with long-standing products and evolutionary advances from industry stalwarts will grow their installed base here, too. There are other industry shows, but the must-go show for our industry is IPC APEX EXPO.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2018

Each year, we compile the lists of most-read news, articles and columns. Here are the top 10 most-read SMT007 columns from the past year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Articles of 2018

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT007 news, articles, interviews, and columns. These are the top 10 most-read SMT007 articles from the past year. Check them out.

What Electronics Manufacturers Need to Know About RoHS 3 Compliance

On July 22, 2019, the latest incarnation of RoHS will come into full effect across the European Union. So, what’s changed? And what exactly are the implications for UK electronics manufacturers? This article provides a recap of what RoHS is, why it matters, and the steps that OEMs will need to take to ensure compliance.

How to Avoid Supply Chain Disruption this Chinese New Year

To avoid any negative impact on deliveries or lead-times during the Chinese New Year, the best tactic is to start planning early. And while there's no need to panic buy, you'll definitely want to think ahead when communicating with your PCB suppliers.

Greg Vance on SMTA Ohio Chapter Updates

This summer, Patty Goldman interviewed Greg Vance, senior project engineer at Rockwell Automation and president of the Ohio chapter, at the SMTA Ohio Valley Expo and Tech Forum in Independence, Ohio. Vance discusses the show, young professionals in the industry, and other events, such as solder paste roundtables.


Solving the UK Manufacturing Productivity Puzzle

Since the financial crisis of 2008, manufacturing has seen an undeniable slump. Latest industry statistics paint a pretty compelling picture—where once the UK manufacturing sector was hot on the heels of its international counterparts, it now lags behind with average annual growth of less than 1% a year since the advent of the financial crisis. This article looks at five issues that could help to inform our decisions and boost performance within the sector.

How Effective is Your Induction Process?

This article looks at eight ways manufacturers can ensure their induction process passes the 'so what' test. And more importantly, addresses all of the questions and concerns a new starter might have during their first couple of days.

Christine Pearsall on Tempo Automation and PCB West

Christine Pearsall, senior director of marketing for Tempo Automation, discusses with Consulting Technical Editor Tim Haag what services Tempo Automation provides, what attracts engineers and designers most to the company, and what events they plan to attend in the upcoming year.

Strategies to Manage Your China Business Through Turbulence

While the United States may be the world’s most open market, China remains the most competitive, and is still viewed by most U.S. and EU companies as the "last great opportunity for growth.” Many companies want to gain entry to the Chinese market share for their products or services. Thus, the competition for sales of products or services is correspondingly intense. Here's how to succeed in the world's second largest economy.

RTW SMTAI: KIC's MB Allen on Smart Factory, CFX

Marybeth (MB) Allen, product manager at KIC, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about the smart factory, KIC's new RPI i4.0 software release, and as well as her company's leadership in IPC's Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) initiative.

Green Circuits' Joe O'Neil and Joe Garcia on the Best Kept Secret

Joe O'Neil, CEO, and Joe Garcia, VP of sales and marketing, at Green Circuits discuss with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about recruiting new employees, new training and certification requirements, tariffs, and more.

4 Questions OEMs Typically Ask When Outsourcing

The decision to transfer your electronics manufacturing to an EMS company is a complex process, with the potential to impact your business, your staff, your customers and your suppliers in a multitude of ways. This article highlights four questions OEMs typically ask prospective contract manufacturing partners when they first start engaging with them—and our take on the answers.

Pros and Cons of Dual Sourcing

Now, more than ever, there's a need for responsive and flexible supply chains. For OEMs, one solution to mitigate the risk of supply chain disruption is to maintain relationships with more than one supplier through dual sourcing—the practice of purchasing a chosen raw material, product, or service from two (or sometimes multiple) sources. Here are it's pros and cons.

RTW SMTAI: Steve Greathouse Discusses Award, Highlights Need for New Engineers

Steve Greathouse, senior staff engineer at Plexus Corp., and recipient of SMTA’s Excellence in Leadership Award this year, speaks about the magic of the SMTA as a collaborative and supportive professional organization. He also discusses the need for “new blood” to join the manufacturing workforce as more senior engineers leave the industry.

How to Measure Manufacturing Employee Engagement

Disgruntled employees have the ability to sap the lifeblood from your organization. And in some cases, one or two negative views can spread quickly throughout a business like an uncontrollable virus. While it is important to deal with issues the moment they arise, it is also vital to have a system in place to measure views and opinions on a regular basis and with a long-term view.


RTW SMTAI: Libra's Rod Howell Discusses Tariffs Issue

Rod Howell, CEO of EMS firm Libra Industries, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Nolan Johnson about the ongoing tariffs issue, how it impacts the global electronics manufacturing supply chain, and their strategic response to address the issue.

Karl-Heinz Fritz on Cicor’s DenciTec Technology

In a recent interview, Karl-Heinz Fritz, VP of technology at Cicor, discusses the business, DenciTec technology, the impact of tariffs on trade, and applications for 3D printing and additive manufacturing, including potential new opportunities for PCB designers.

Real Time with...SMTAI 2018 Coverage Now Available

The I-Connect007 team traveled to Rosemont, Illinois this week to cover the SMTA International 2018 conference and exhibition. Video interviews of key executives and leaders of our industry are now available for viewing. Also check out the photo gallery for snapshots of the exhibition floor and the conference as well as the after-hours festivities.

GP Ventures’ Tom Kastner on PCB Mergers and Acquisitions

Tom Kastner, president of GP Ventures, he has his finger on the pulse of the industry's mergers and acquisitions (M&A) more than anyone. In this interview, Kastner provides insights on the right time to buy, how to evaluate your company's worth, and when it is too late.

The Smart Robot Revolution is Here

The distance between imagination and reality has reduced considerably. Thanks to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), data processing, and machine vision, the science fiction writers' vision of smarter robots is becoming a reality. These more intelligent machines are also making a big impact in manufacturing.

Indium on Voiding and Auto Electronics Test Standard

In this interview with I-Connect007, Indium Corporation Technical Manager Jonas Sjoberg discusses voiding and other key challenges in soldering, as well as an automotive electronics testing standard based out of South Korea that is seeing increased utilization all over Asia. He also talks about the increasing trend in manufacturers moving to Type 5 and Type 6 solder powders, and how this is causing its own set of challenges in printing.

AltiumLive 2018 a Mecca for PCB Designers

AltiumLive 2018 San Diego is now in the history books. This is the second annual AltiumLive (North America), and it was even better than the first. With nearly 300 hundred participants, from all parts of the country and industry, the event was a huge success.

RTW NEPCON South China: SEHO Discusses New Production Facility in South Korea

Andreas Reinhardt, R&D director at SEHO Systems GmbH, speaks about their new production facility in South Korea, which aims to address the growing lead times in their supply chain. He also talks about how emerging technologies such as more and more sensors and connections, big data, and cloud computing are impacting the electronics assembly industry.

XR Update: Emerging Realities

The rate of advance in the use of XR—the term now being used to cover AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and MR (mixed reality)—in many areas, along with advances in the hardware and network capability supporting the use of XR, is accelerating. And because things are moving so quickly, here's a quick review and an update on recent developments in this field.

Mexico: A New Hub for Electronics Manufacturing

With its competitive production costs, good logistical access, a skilled and deep talent pool and state-of-the-art technology, Mexico now produces everything from flat-screen televisions to smartphones and other consumer devices employing surface-mount technologies. Here's how Mexico’s strengths in electronics manufacturing services (EMS) evolved, and why more and more electronics manufacturers are moving to the country.


RTW NEPCON South China: Mycronic Discusses Industry 4.0

At the recent NEPCON South China 2018 event in Shenzhen, Clemens Jargon, VP for Global Dispensing and Asia at Mycronic, discusses I-Connect007's Edy Yu the challenges that customers face on their journey towards Industry 4.0, and how Mycronic is addressing these issues. From jet printing to solder paste inspection, to pick-and-place, Jargon talks about their total solutions that aim to help customers take their production to the next level.

Riding Out the Electronic Components Crisis is No Longer an Option

The electronic components shortage is continuing to take its toll on the electronics manufacturing sector. As market demand outstrips manufacturing capacity, the fallout from the components crisis is now predicted to extend well into 2020, and beyond. And it’s a problem which OEMs can no longer hope to simply ride out. Find out what you can do to address this issue.

Practicing Best Practices

Recently, we looked into electronics assembly best practices that help optimize your manufacturing processes. To provide you more insights on this, here's an interview with two assembly experts: Jason Keeping of EMS firm Celestica, and Bob Willis, a renowned EMS consultant and trainer.

Use of Lean Manufacturing Principles Enhances Quality and Productivity

Using work-cell-based batch assembly processes will enable EMS firms to provide greater flexibility and responsiveness to their box build customers. Here's an example of why this flexibility is important, and find out how regional EMS providers, often thought of as companies primarily focused on PCBA assembly and cellular box builds, who are skilled in mechanical assembly can easily shift to higher-volume work.

Demand Forecasting: The Art of Knowing What You Need Before You Need It

Forecasting is a skill born out of experience, intuition, and most of all, knowledge. But what do you need to know when you’re creating an accurate demand forecast? What data is needed? Are there tools you can use? Where do you start? Find out here.

Cross Functional Teams Drive Strong Focus on Risk Mitigation and Quality

Having a traditional cross-functional team (CFT) approach, with a much larger CFT group that includes a tactically focused program manager, a strategically focused account director, a buyer, a product engineer, a process engineer, a test engineer, a quality engineer, a production supervisor or lead person, and a customer service representative focused on materials and scheduling, will help EMS firms govern all the necessary outputs associated with each customer.

Best Practices to Achieve Zero Defects

To ensure that a complex electronics build can be completed on time, on budget and with zero defects, here is a list of checks and balances that will help you with adjustments or corrections real time, instead of discovering them at the end of the build or worse, when it's already arrived at the end user.

We Have the Best Practice for That

Most best practices have been developed over time, based on the many different experiences that people encounter in the manufacturing line. And it is important to institute these best practices to make sure that your processes will result in outstanding job at the end of the day.

Conversation with… Vexos: Doing It Right the First Time

Harry Chan, Deputy GM and VP Manufacturing for EMS firm Vexos Shenzhen, is responsible for all aspects of manufacturing through continuous process improvement, production management, and development of manufacturing talent and teams. In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, he shared the challenges when dealing with flexible circuit assemblies, and strategies and techniques to address them.

Overcoming Growth Challenges

Growth is usually seen by manufacturers as a good thing—a sign of success and a result of hard work. But if this growth isn’t planned for, or the manufacturer can’t react in time, growth can cause the same devastating results as if the business was in decline. This article looks at seven common areas that can cause manufacturers a headache when their business is growing, along with solutions to help ease the pain.


Nearing Retirement, Juki's Bob Black Reflects on a Long Career

After more than 40 years in the electronics manufacturing industry, Juki's Bob Black is nearing retirement. Bob sat down with Barry Matties at the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg to reflect on his career and talk about the importance of strategic partnerships, even if that means playing nice with your competitors.

Is There an End in Sight to the Electronic Components Crisis?

As new and innovative technology continues to evolve on a daily basis, the need for electronic components has reached unprecedented levels, with passive manufacturers in particular among those struggling to cope with demand. Electronic component shortages are now such an issue that many OEMs are predicting their forecasted growth for 2018-2019 will be thwarted if they are unable to source the parts they need.

Conversation with Miraco… Strategies for Successful Flex Circuit Assembly

Jason Michaud, a 19-year veteran at Miraco Inc., is the company’s new vice president of sales. In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Jason speaks about the factors driving the increasing utilization of flexible printed circuits, the challenges in flex circuit assembly, and the best practices to address those issues.

Aegis on CFX and Hermes Efforts

The Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) specification is truly revolutionizing the PCB industry. Michael Ford, from Aegis Software, met with I-Connect007's Barry Matties for an interview during the SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, to discuss the impact of this collaborative effort, and how it differs from the Hermes Standard.

Tackling the Challenges in Flex Assembly

Apart from the design and manufacturing of flex printed circuits, a critical challenge that needs attention is assembly. Their flexible nature requires specific strategies for paste printing, chip mounting, soldering—whether reflow, wave, or hand—and rework/repair processes. Which is why the June 2018 issue of SMT007 Magazine looks into the many challenges in flex circuit assembly and highlight some of the strategies, techniques and best practices to help assemblers deal with flex circuit issues.

High School Team's Robotics Entry on Spotlight at Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum

In May, I took the opportunity to drive around Lake Michigan and visit the SMTA Milwaukee Chapter’s Wisconsin Expo & Tech Forum. Held at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel, this was a well-organized and attended table-top expo and technical forum, with over 60 exhibitors, and a high school team with their FIRST Robotics entry.

The Value of Site Visits in Selecting Your Electronics Manufacturer

A site visit can be an invaluable exercise in helping you to better understand your electronics manufacturing services (EMS) outsourcing options and to see first-hand the operational capability, procedures and culture of a prospective EMS partner.

Seeing Clearly: XR Headsets and Flex’s Reference Design at AWE

At this year’s CES, they announced the launch of an extended reality (XR) reference design for the next generation of XR headsets. As the “sketch-to-scale” solutions provider, as they describe themselves, that designs and builds “intelligent products for a connected world,” they have now introduced an augmented reality (AR or, as we now call it, XR) reference design to reduce time to market for companies wishing to make and market XR devices.

The Michigan SMTA Expo & Tech Forum 2018: A Review

In May, I had the adventure of driving across Michigan to visit the SMTA Michigan Expo & Tech Forum. This well-organized and attended expo and technical forum featured over 75 exhibitors and two interesting presentations. Read on.

How to Apply for a Graduate Scheme in Manufacturing

There are a whole host of benefits which make graduate schemes within the UK manufacturing industry a popular career choice. You get paid while you train, you gain invaluable on-the-job experience within your chosen sector, you develop a breadth of new technical and business skills and there’s an opportunity to continue your academic studies while you work.


Enabling an Intelligent Supply Chain for Electronics Manufacturing

The first three industrial revolutions came about because of mechanization, electricity and IT. Now, with the advent of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and services making their way into the manufacturing environment, we are seeing the arrival of a fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0.

Key Insights from the Annual Manufacturing Report 2018

UK Manufacturing would appear to be experiencing both an exciting and a disconcerting time, according to the findings of the Annual Manufacturing Report 2018. This year's report set out not just to provide a statistical snapshot of the industry, but to test the mood of manufacturers across a range of issues from technology to training.

Newbie in North Carolina: Local SMTA Event

I-Connect007's Jonathan Zinski attended the SMTA Carolinas Expo and Tech Forum on May 15. Featuring numerous local companies who do not do not always attend larger trade shows, the event offered great value, with its smaller environment contributing to more in-depth conversations.

The Value of a Global Sourcing Partner

In today's highly competitive environment, global sourcing is no longer a competitive strategy; it is a standard practice. But the challenges of developing a robust domestic PCB supply chain is daunting enough that moving onto the international stage presents a whole new degree of difficulty that most companies are not equipped to manage.

Conversation with… Keysight: Challenges and Opportunities in Testing 5G

Roger Nichols, 5G program manager at test and measurement provider Keysight Technologies Inc., discusses the opportunities that 5G will enable, the many challenges facing electronics manufacturers when it comes to 5G, and how they are helping the industry address these issues.

The Key to Boosting Numbers of Women in Manufacturing

According to latest figures by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the split between male and female employees in UK's manufacturing industry is significant—with men accounting for 76% of the total manufacturing workforce and women making up just 24%. So, what exactly is being done to encourage the recruitment, and retention, of more women within the UK manufacturing environment?

The Survey Said: Industry Optimistic After Strong 2017

During recent trade shows and conferences, we spoke with a variety of fabricators and assembly providers. They had one thing in common: Every company achieved strong growth in 2017, and shared a positive outlook about the future. This year, the industry is optimistic, driven by positive economic outlook, growing customer demand, and new technologies and vertical markets, among others.

Combining Strengths Synergistically: PDS and Green Circuits

Power Design Services (PDS) and Green Circuits have just announced their merger. I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties recently sat down with Joe O’Neil and Matthew Becker of PDS, along with Ted Park of Green Circuits, to get the full scoop.

How to Secure a Place on an Electronics Manufacturing Graduate Scheme

The world of EMS is a fast-moving and technologically innovative sector that can offer a wide range of compelling career opportunities for new graduates. For those seeking a route into the electronics manufacturing industry, a graduate scheme can be hugely beneficial in gaining practical, first-hand experience of an EMS business across all its operations.

System-Driven Approach Ensures Automotive Electronics Assembly Success

In an interview with SMT007 Magazine, Mathieu Kury, business development manager at Asteelflash USA Corp., talks about the new challenges and customer requirements when it comes to automotive electronics assembly, trends driving the growth of the market, and where the industry is headed.


On Globalization and Standards

Like a language—English, Chinese, Hindi, German, Spanish, French—a standard builds a bridge between people. "If I make this sound, we both understand that it means this. If I write this symbol, we both understand that means that. If I perform this action, we both understand the gesture."

Vehicle Electrification: Disrupting the Automotive Industry and Beyond

Around the globe, governments are announcing mandates that will bring about the demise of the internal combustion engine. China has led the charge by requiring 8% of new vehicles on the road to be “new energy” or zero emission vehicles in 2018, up from the current 2–3% on the road today. Similar strong government regulations limiting the future of the internal combustion engine have passed around the world, and the importance and growth of the hybrid and fully electric automobile industry can’t be overstated.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Heraeus Discusses Developments at New Lab

Jim Wertin, technical sales manager at Heraeus Electronics, shares news about the company's latest product offerings, as well as its newly established application laboratory, which helps customers and potential customers resolve production issues and improve the quality of their products.

Electronic Component Shortages are Real

The electronic component market is in poor shape (again) and the sooner you face this fact, the sooner you can put plans in place to mitigate the risk to your business. Electronic component shortages are once again causing OEMs and EMS providers a real headache. Here's a look at the current state of the market, and seven ways in which you can work closely with your EMS provider to make the best out of a bad situation.

What's the Scoop? APEX CFX Showcase

The IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) demo at the recent IPC APEX EXPO 2018 trade show in San Diego, California, is a great example of industry collaboration. The CFX Showcase at APEX had 245,000 CFX website page views; 701,200 CFX messages transmitted; and 664.5 million bytes of data exchanged; and the whole thing was pulled together in a matter of weeks. Here's what the participants in the program have got to say.

The Climate Change of Data

From a typical manufacturing standpoint, cloud storage is simply another way or place in which to put data. From a usage perspective, many see it as being no different from an on-site server or even the external hard disk on your laptop. Off-site cloud storage is vast and can easily be cost effective, requiring no maintenance or fixed overhead other than paying the service bills. There are, however, a couple of very important things to consider with cloud storage.

Poor Supply Chain Management Will Cost You Money

Supply chain management goes far beyond merely keeping track of all the SKUs currently on sale. It also means tracking the parts going into the products, since those parts are also potentially going to be used for post-sale support if necessary. If you can't trust your components to be legitimate and trustworthy, backed by a solid chain-of-possession, then every aspect of your electronics operation may be in jeopardy.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Mycronic Broadens Product Portfolio

Thomas Stetter, senior vice president of assembly at Mycronic, discussed with I-Connect007's Pete Starkey how their company continues to broaden their product portfolio towards a full-line SMT solution and the Industry 4.0 automated factory.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: MEK on Increasing Demand for THT AOI Systems

Henk Biemans, managing director of MEK Marantz Electronics Ltd, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias about what's driving the increasing demand for THT AOI systems. Other topics discussed include reliability issues, articifial intelligence, and machine learning in inspection systems.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Nordson SELECT's Acquisition Update

Carlos E. Bouras, general manager of Nordson SELECT, discusses the acquisition of ACE Production Technologies and InterSelect GmbH one year later, along with the synergies between the two companies, and how they have strengthened Nordson SELECT's capabilities.


5 Ideas to Enhance the Induction Process in Manufacturing

While most of us work and live in an alternate reality, first impressions still count and your induction process is no different. Here are some ideas to consider implementing within your own manufacturing business when welcoming your new starters.

Succeeding at the Velocity of Technology: An IPC APEX EXPO 2018 Wrap-Up

After many months of planning, IPC APEX EXPO 2018 proved to be a success. From revolutionary advancements displayed on the show floor to expert insights conveyed in technical conference sessions and professional development courses, IPC APEX EXPO provided the learning and connections that helped 4,574 attendees from 43 countries prepare for the future.

How to Assess Top Talent when Recruiting for Key Manufacturing Roles

As your business continues to grow and evolve, gaps in talent can start to appear. And while growth is often seen as a sign of success, if you fail to manage growth correctly, it can quickly turn and bite you in a similar way to a business in decline.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Super Dry Tackles International Moisture Management Differences and Floor-Life-Reset Techniques

Rich Heimsch comments on the differences in attitude regarding moisture management between Europe and the U.S., and the increasing awareness of floor-life-reset techniques.

The Direction of Autonomous Driving

Flex (formerly Flextronics) is a company that I've worked with for decades, both as a customer and as a supplier. Recently, they were honored with Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Award. I sat down with Eric Hoarau, the senior director managing automotive innovation at Flex, to discuss his company’s views on where autonomous driving technology is heading in the next 10 - 15 years.

Automotive Electronics Still in the Driver’s Seat

The past year was one of the strongest years that the PCB supply chain and the rest of the electronics manufacturing industry in general, has seen. Everyone we talked to at the shows were optimistic that the strong growth in the industry in 2017 will continue through 2018. And most industry players point to one thing when it comes to what’s driving this strong growth—automotive electronics.

Creative Electron's Bill Cardoso on the iPhone 10 Teardown and Much More

At the recent West Penn SMTA Expo, Creative Electron CEO Bill Cardoso speaks with Patty Goldman about his presentation on the iPhone 10 teardown, and how this reflects the direction where contract manufacturers are headed. He also highlights what sets Creative Electron apart in the market.

The Evolution of Camtek Manufacturing

Chris Davis, president and founder of EMS firm Camtek Manufacturing, in Bloomington, Illinois, discusses with Dan Beaulieu what led her to not only start Camtek from the ground up, but also what it means for her business to be a certified women's business enterprise (WBE).

Show & Tell: Corporate Awards Bestowed by IPC

Every year IPC recognizes two companies that have made significant contributions to IPC and the electronics industry. These awards are named after industry executives who were themselves significant and outstanding contributors: one for a PCB fabricator company and one for an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) company. This year’s recipients were Northrop Grumman and Rockwell Collins, respectively.

IPC APEX EXPO Takeaways

The IPC Connected Factory Exchange (CFX) live demo at this year's IPC APEX EXPO show in San Diego, California highlighted how the CFX standard will enable manufacturers to track their efficiencies better, prevent issues even before they happen, and make adjustments wherever needed.


RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Miraco Company and Services Introduction

Miraco's current quality manager, William Pfingston, fills Guest Editor Steve Williams in on the company's contract manufacturing capabilities and services, including strengths in design and flex circuits. He also talks about the company's expansion and organizational changes.

Should You Outsource Your Outbound Logistics to Your EMS Partner?

Shipping your products to their end destination is the final stage in your manufacturing process and one which is crucial to the ongoing success of your entire manufacturing operation. After all, getting your product delivered on time, in the correct quantities, to the right people and in pristine condition all contributes to your customer’s first impression.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: New Electrolube Developments and Improved Coatings

Electrolube's Phil Kinner discusses new developments in two-component polyurethane conformal coatings, and improved silicone coatings for high-temperature applications.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Kyzen’s Tom Forsythe Talks Tips for Better Cleaning

Tom Forsythe, executive VP of KYZEN, offers his advice on designing for better cleaning. Forsythe also discusses customers' continuing demand for data and KYZEN's data management efforts.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Blackfox—Training Program for Transitioning Military Personnel

Al Dill, president and CEO, discusses a training program for transitioning military personnel provided by Blackfox, who is a certified IPC training organization around the world.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Saki—The Smart Factory Concept

Alex Malek, VP of sales and service for Saki, explains how the company's software and hardware provide a common platform for machine-to-machine interconnectivity.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Manncorp Expands With New Learning Center

Ed Stone, sales manager of Manncorp, discusses the company's expansion, specifically their new application and learning center, their new equipment in the pipeline, and his outlook for this year.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Zentech Discusses New NIST Legislation

Matt Turpin, president and CEO of EMS firm Zentech Manufacturing Inc., speaks about the NIST 800-171 legislation published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and how it is different from other regulations such as ITAR.

5 Techniques Used to Detect Counterfeit Electronic Components

Although government pressure and private resources have helped minimize the risk of counterfeit components from entering the supply chain, there is still and will most likely continue to be, a prominent threat. So, what can you do to minimize this risk? Read on.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Kimball Electronics Discusses New Opportunities in the Medical Market

Tom Ferris, business development director for Kimball Electronics' medical industry solutions business, discusses the latest opportunities in the medical market and new requirements from customers.


A Not So Surprising Focus for Flex in the XR Realm

Dan Feinberg has been covering augmented, virtual, and mixed-reality for I-Connect007 for the last few years. He recently met with Eric Braddom, VP of Extended Reality (XR) Product Management for Flex, a company that is involved in this disruptive technology. In this interview, Dan and Eric discuss the future of augmented, mixed and/or virtual reality, or as Flex calls it, "extended reality."

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: COMET Technologies Highlights Product Range and New Facility

Craig Arcuri of COMET Technologies details the numerous ways his company's technology is employed to manufacture and inspect a wide range of products, from chips to jet engine turbine blades. He also speaks about Lab One, the company's new technology and application center in Silicon Valley.

Your Competitors are Outsourcing Their Manufacturing; Shouldn’t You?

As an OEM, you will be focused on increasing sales and maximizing profits. But you can only sell what you can produce, and manufacturing complex industrial electronic products day in, day out can be a headache. As your sales start to climb, you move closer to hitting your internal capacity limits. Here's how EMS providers can help you become successful in your manufacturing.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Indium Discusses Fighting Solder Voids

Voiding has increasingly become one of the most critical challenges in the soldering process. In this interview, Christopher Nash, product manager for the PCB assembly solder paste business of Indium, speaks about how the company is helping customers address the voiding challenge.

Setting Clear Boundaries with Your EMS Provider

A common area for confusion, particularly during the early stages of an outsourcing partnership, relates to 'boundaries', and agreeing who is responsible for what. If clear lines are not discussed and agreed between you and your EMS provider, it can be easy to fall into an assumption trap, and we all know what happens then.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Addressing Challenges in Automotive Electronics

Paul Salerno explains how Alpha Assembly Solutions have addressed the challenges of the exponential growth in automotive electronics, with specific reference to soldering in power train, ADAS, and infotainment applications

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Asteelflash Expansion Plans and Industry Challenges

Mathieu Kury, business development manager at EMS firm Asteelflash, discusses the company's expansion plans and activities amid the growing demand in the automotive electronics space.

RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Developments and Reliability Improvements in Solder Alloys

Tim O'Neill explains developments in solder alloys for cost-sensitive applications, and improvements in the reliability of alloys subjected to sustained high temperatures.

Exceeding Customer Expectations

Aculon Inc. commercializes unique surface coatings leveraging nanotechnology and other surface modification techniques. The company’s original focus was the optical industry, developing treatments of prescription eyewear, sunglasses and other optics.

9 Essentials of an Electronics Contract Manufacturer

Differentiating between the best contract electronics manufacturing providers and those that are sub-par can initially seem tricky. In order to help you make the best and most educated decision possible, here are nine essentials to look for when hiring an electronics manufacturing service.


6 Questions to Assess Your Company's IoT Readiness

Small-to-medium sized companies shouldn't assume that Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT or Industrial Internet) is for the 'big boys' only. Innovations coming out of the IIoT have the potential to significantly level the playing field among companies of all sizes.

Growing with the Customer

Greg Hebson, global director for strategic accounts at EMS firm Vexos Inc., speaks with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias about working closely and growing with customers, as well as ensuring total customer satisfaction.

Talk to Your Customers

Whatever industry we are in, we are a customer and a supplier at the same time. The goal is always 100% customer satisfaction, as dissatisfaction in your customer side will eventually result in problems. For one, according to the results of our survey, the loss of business and reputation can be the consequences of not meeting your customers' needs.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Product Design to an Independent Contractor

Taking on an independent design contractor or sole trader offers an opportunity to inject a fresh perspective, to gain the value of specialist knowledge and to save on staffing costs, training, infrastructure and equipment. Ultimately though, deciding whether to engage an independent contractor in your product design will require weighing up the pros and cons as they apply to your specific project.

Should You Be Outsourcing Product Design?

While handing over part or all of your manufacturing to a third party can be daunting, it offers a host of benefits. It frees you up to focus on what you do best--whether that's designing, marketing or selling. It reduces your operating costs, and you gain from the range and depth of expertise than an EMS can provide. For OEMs already outsourcing their manufacturing, going to a third party for other services, like product design, could well be the next logical step.

Tempo Automation: Setting the Pace for Low-Volume, Quick-Turn Assembly

Jesse Koenig, co-founder and VP of technology at PCB assembly company Tempo Automation, discusses with I-Connect007's Patty Goldman how they are making electronics development much easier and more seamless for customers.

The Importance of Feedback in the Electronics Assembly Supply Chain

Any customer feedback is a good feedback, whether it is good or bad, because it often pushes the supplier or manufacturer to improve. However, the problem in the electronics assembly supply chain is that customers often do not give feedback, unless it is negative.

Working with Your Customers

Even though you have trusted supplier partners, working closely with them will ensure seamless manufacture and high-quality output. In our recent survey, most of our respondents agree, with more than a third or 40% closely working with at least 50% of their customers.

How Engineering Support Can Affect QC

Quality processes are part of any reputable contract manufacturer's operation. When working with an electronics contract manufacturer, it is wise to consider a partner that has an experienced engineering team. This article tells more.

7 Simple Ways to Motivate Your Electronics Manufacturing Staff

Your manufacturing staff are the backbone of your electronics manufacturing organization. They are the ones showing up day in. day out to build products for your customers. So, keeping them motivated and engaged should be a priority, right? But too often during peak production periods, surmounting pressure can lead to staff feeling overworked, demoralized, and underappreciated.


Improving Design, Manufacturing and Assembly Teamwork

Many electronics manufacturers tend to compartmentalize or "silo" their departments, such as the design team versus assembly-related functions. The relationship between design and manufacturing can too often be disconnected or otherwise poor, which stalls productivity and increases bottom-line costs. By identifying and addressing these gaps, this financial hemorrhage can be reduced, and profitability increased.

Is UK Manufacturing Ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The new fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is driving the transformation of manufacturing across the world, encompassing breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things and 3D printing. And according to the World Economic Forum's Klaus Schwab, when compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.

Recent Innovations in DFMA

Software, electronics and sensors are making their way into the world of product design. New composites, plastics and alloys are replacing traditional metals. Designs are even reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturers, and more products can be recycled when they reach the end of their use.

Configure to Order: Different by Design

When considering implementation of Industry 4.0 solutions, following the hype in the market, attention typically is focused on the need for communication between machines on the shop-floor. Knowing what is currently executing and the status of each process in the factory, as well as all the related resources and support operations, provides critical information for Industry 4.0 computerized management systems.

Focus on the New

It seems like it wasn't too long ago when I was writing about the optimism of the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry going into 2017. Now, here we are again at the beginning of the new year, looking at new trends, disruptive technologies, and emerging markets for 2018. I am also proud to announce our new branding as well as our fresh, new look.

Why You Want Your EMS Partner to Be Annoying and Boring

Outsourcing part or all of your manufacturing to an electronics manufacturing service (EMS) provider can be daunting. Handing over some of the control of your business can be a scary prospect.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT007 Columns of 2017

Another year is over in the SMT industry. 2017 saw a myriad of hot topics, including Industry 4.0, the millennials’ entry into the manufacturing space, and alternative solder materials, to name a few. Without further ado, here are the Top 10 columns from SMT007 over the past year.

Top 10 Most-Read SMT Articles of 2017

Every year, we like to take a look back at the most popular SMT news and articles. These are the top 10 most-read SMT articles from the past year.

Customers Drive Investment Decisions

In our recent survey on investing in new equipment, one question we asked is what or who influences the research into new equipment to buy for their factories. A majority, 77% of respondents, say that addressing customers’ needs is the primary influence in their research for new equipment, followed by market conditions or trends.

Insights from productronica

The recently held productronica was a busy exhibition. There were booths that were so crowded that people were standing in the aisle to talk with company representatives. But some booths were nearly empty. Read to find Dieter G. Weiss' comments on this biennial show.


Tips & Tricks: What to Do if You Can't Have Reference Designators on Your Board

Sometimes, you can't have reference designators on your board. Perhaps it's because it's too densely populated and there isn't room. Or maybe, for aesthetic reasons, you've chosen to leave them off. Here's how you can address that issue.

What Matters Most is Communication

While there may be new techniques and strategies, technologies, equipment, tools, and materials to employ and utilize, there is always one thing that will ensure the manufacturing/ assembly success of your product: communication. Communication between the designer and the assembler will help improve the manufacturability and assembly of the final product—even before the board design gets fabricated.

Is Your EMS Provider The One for You?

No matter where you are in your outsourcing journey, ensuring that your EMS provider is right for you is one of the most important success factors. The right partner should bring you years of pain-free manufacturing that has the ability to evolve and adapt to your needs as your business grows.

How to Ensure Good Service from Your EMS Partner

What does good service mean from an EMS provider? Sure, it’s about consistently delivering products, on time, and to a high quality. But there's more to it than that. This article highlights two factors to consider when choosing an EMS provider to ensure good service and a strong, healthy and happy outsourcing partnership.

Video from productronica 2017: Heraeus Highlights Need for Highly Reliable and Compatible Assembly Materials

At the recent productronica 2017 event in Munich, Germany, Stefan Merlau, global product manager of assembly materials for Heraeus Electronics, discusses with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy the biggest pain points of their customers, and how his company’s latest technologies are helping them address these issues. He also speaks about their outlook for the industry going into the new year.

Video from productronica 2017: Koh Young Focuses on Total Inspection Solution

At the show floor of productronica 2017, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey speaks with Managing Director Harald Eppinger of Koh Young Europe GmbH about the principles of Koh Young’s total 3D inspection solution for SMT process optimization and yield improvement.

Video from productronica 2017: Mycronic Discusses Precision Jetting Systems

From the show floor during productronica 2017, Clemens Jargon, VP of Global Dispensing at Mycronic, discusses with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey the company’s portfolio of precision jetting equipment, with particular reference to the speed and versatility of the MYSmart series.

Blockchain for Manufacturing: What are the Opportunities?

Blockchain is one of the hottest topics in the tech world, and a buzzword that’s been popping up quite a bit over the last year or so. It is said to have the potential to radically simplify many business processes, by reducing risk and boosting transparency. In the manufacturing world, what are its opportunities?

Video from productronica 2017: Nordson ASYMTEK Highlights Bulk Dispensing Technology

At this week’s productronica, Nordson ASYMTEK highlights its the new Helios SD960 bulk and two-component dispensing system. Almar Thewissen, program manager for Industrial Applications, EMEA, at Nordson, discusses its applications with I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey.

Video from productronica 2017: Goepel Highlights Updates on X-Line 3D In-line System

At productronica 2017 in Munich, Germany, Goepel electronic's Andreas Turk, head of AXI Systems, explains the latest enhancements to their X-Line 3D in-line system for high-end inspection. He also discusses the benefits of the Stingray Detector option.


Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth

In an interview with SMT Magazine, Dr. Ranko Vujosevic, CEO and CTO of Optimal Electronics, speaks about the latest technology developments at his company, and his plans to sustain growth. He also talks about his paper on lights-out electronics assembly, the technologies that would support this vision, and the ultimate goal of Industry 4.0.

What Does an OEM Really Gain from Outsourcing their Manufacturing?

But what does an OEM really gain when they make the move from an in-house manufacturing operation to an outsourced one? This article looks at two key benefits OEMs stand to gain once they relinquish control and hand over their production responsibility to an EMS provider.

Surprising European EMS Market Numbers

If you think market analysis is always correct and predict the future exactly, you are mistaken. The latest annual reports from EMS companies with manufacturing sites in Europe have changed the picture on the European EMS industry quite a bit and caught us by surprise. Yes, you read that correctly: SURPRISE.

Should I Involve My EMS Partner in DFM?

OEMs are seeking the support of EMS providers with more than just manufacturing, but with design elements too. One of the main design services EMS providers will be likely to offer is design for manufacture (DFM). This article highlights why engaging your EMS partner in DFM is worthwhile, and will be valuable in securing the longevity of your product.

Joining Forces: SMTA and the SMART Group in Europe

Tanya Martin, executive director at SMTA, and Keith Bryant, global director of sales for YXLON International and chairman of the SMART Group, speak with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman about the latest initiatives within their associations, and discuss some interesting news about an upcoming merger.

Counterfeit: A Quality Conundrum

The rise in the ingress of counterfeit materials into the supply chain has made them prolific, though yet, the extent is understated. What needs to be faced now is the need for incoming inspection, but at what cost to industry, and does anyone remember how to do it?

Eight Factors a CEM Should Know About its Suppliers

Selecting a contract electronics manufacturer (CEM) that fits well with your outsourcing strategy can be a difficult and long process. But, by taking the time to research and investigate potential shortlisted partners, you are much more likely to reap the benefits further down the line.

Three Reasons to Use PCB Panel Routing Techniques

Most PCBs are individually routed—meaning they're not panelized. That doesn't mean that, sometimes, sending them to a PCB assembler in a panel isn't a good idea or even required. Generally, assemblers don't require panels, but there are some cases when they do.

RTW SMTAI: How Automation and Government Support Can Help Reshoring Drive

Alex Malek, vice president of sales and service for North America of SAKI, speaks with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about how automation and government investment can help bring back manufacturing jobs from overseas.

Institute of Circuit Technology Hayling Island Seminar 2017

This year’s event had a well-chosen and varied programme featuring presentations on process chemistry and R&D consortia, a discussion of controversial standards proposals and a review of the experiences of commissioning new technology in a start-up factory.


Is Hybrid Technology Gaining Momentum?

Over the past 20 years, ceramic hybrids have changed more and more to a backyard living in the European electronics industry, mainly driven by price pressure, specifically from the automotive electronics industry.

IPC’s David Bergman on Industry Training and Education

David Bergman, vice president of standards and technology at IPC, talks about the biggest issues facing the electronics manufacturing industry now. He also explains how the organization helps elevate the industry through its training, continuous education, and standards development.

How to Prevent Suspect Components from Entering Your Supply Chain

The success of any supply chain relies on quality and stability. If either of these elements are threatened, OEMs or their EMS provider will struggle to ensure supply chain excellence. Unfortunately, with the risk of counterfeit and other suspect components ever present, this can sometimes be difficult to achieve.

The Root Causes & Solutions for Warped PC Boards

There are two primary types of causes of board warping: process related at the fab or assembly shop, and layout related issues. If it's warped before assembly, it's between fab and layout. If it's flat before assembly and warped after, it's most likely between layout and assembly. That said, sometimes a fab problem won't show up until a pass through the reflow oven at your assembly partner.

RTW SMTAI: Alpha Discusses Solder Dross Reclamation

At the recent SMTA International 2017 exhibition in Rosemont, Illinois, Mitch Holtzer, director of Americas Reclaim Business of Alpha Assembly Solutions, talks with Managing Editor Andy Shaughnessy about the solder dross reclamation process, and discusses his new role in leading Alpha’s reclamation business.

Implementing a Capacity Planning Tool

One of the more common challenges we see in the EMS world is that through the outsourcing of their manufacturing, many OEMs have forgotten the fundamentals of supply chain management and expect quick turnaround on orders without taking into consideration the whole supply chain constraints or the impact of not providing accurate forecasts to the EMS partner.

RTW SMTAI: Gary Tanel Discusses How SMTA Helps the Industry Evolve

At the SMTA International 2017 exhibition in Rosemont, Illinois, Gary Tanel, president of the SMTA Dallas Chapter, speaks with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties on a myriad of topics, including the goal of the SMTA as an industry association, and how it is helping the industry evolve. They also discussed challenges and strategies in bringing more young people to the industry.

What's Up in Scandinavia's EMS Industry?

Scandinavia, consisting of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, is relatively small in regards to the overall European EMS revenues, and counts for less than 6% of the European EMS production value. Nevertheless, more than 160 companies offer EMS services, not to mention companies who only manufacture cable harnesses or just do design work, box building, and after-sales services.

Does My Outsourcing Project Fit with the EMS Provider's Strategy?

Once a decision has been made to outsource your electronics manufacturing, the next step is to find a suitable partner. This article highlights some of the questions, checks and balances a good EMS company will carry out before deciding to quote or partner with an OEM. Hopefully, by providing this insight, you will be better placed to find the right supplier for your outsourcing project.

Should You Entrust Your EMS Provider With Your Supply Chain?

Managing your supply chain can be time consuming and expensive and, more importantly, it can distract you away from other key activities such as sales, marketing and product design. As an OEM, however, it's unlikely that your supply chain is a 'core' activity, that is, something that adds real value to your customers. So, what are your options?


The Past and the Future of the European EMS Industry

The EMS industry in Europe is still in a growth stage of its life cycle. This does not mean that there is enough space for everybody. Looking back over the past 10 years, we have seen tremendous changes in the number of companies, counting every separate legal entity.

Cybersecurity: 4 Things OEMs Should Do to Protect Themselves

Manufacturing has been declared one of the top three most targeted industries for cyber attacks. While Industry 4.0 and expansion into cyber-physical systems will have a positive impact on the industry in terms of increasing efficiency, they open the door to even more security risks such as a hacker taking over production, or changing the output of the manufacturing process.

RTW NEPCON South China: Keith Bryant Discusses New Role and Goals at YXLON

Keith Bryant, the newly appointed Global Director of Electronics Sales at YXLON International, talks about his new role and goals at the company.

NEPCON South China 2017 Opens Today

NEPCON South China 2017, being held in conjunction with the Shenzhen Circuit Sourcing 2017 and Automotive World China, opens its doors today at the Shenzhen Convention and Exhibition Center to showcase nearly 600 companies catering to the electronics manufacturing industry. This year’s event, the largest ever in the show's 30-year history, features 45,000 square meters of exhibition space.

It was Acceptable in the Noughties

In many software products for manufacturing, the common approach previously was to show as many as possible, if not all, of the various data elements about products, machines and processes to engineers, who liked to feel totally in control of what they were doing. The need, however, to manage complex databases, to have detailed views of values and attributes of anything in the digital domain, rapidly became a major distraction to people performing their designated roles.

On the Smart Move: Industry 4.0 in Electronics Production

The industrial world is in motion, as we face a revolution in terms of processes, organizational structures, hardware and software in our companies. Many critics complain that terms like Industry 4.0 and smart factory are rather arbitrary and lack concrete meaning. That is correct. What is also true, however, is that technical progress always starts out with a vision, which is then put into concrete terms as time moves on.

Your 6-Point Guide to Finding the Right EMS Provider

If you have already outsourced part or all of your electronics manufacturing operation, then you'll already have a good understanding of what's expected. But, if you're looking to move EMS providers, then chances are something didn't go according to plan the first time. To avoid making the same mistake twice, or if you are considering outsourcing for the very first time, here are six points we recommend you consider to help find the right assembly partner for you.

Sourcing PCBA: Can Your EMS Supplier Do More?

You're in the market for some PCB assemblies for your new product and you need to find the right supplier. You've looked online, gotten recommendations from friends, and the choices are dizzying. Should you look domestically or overseas? What do you do now? Sourcing PCBA doesn't have to be difficult, but there are questions you need to answer.

The Ever Greener Grass

What we think we know is a less dynamic concept than actual reality. So many things progress so quickly, that we either as individuals or organizations, simply cannot keep up any longer. How then do we know whether the grass is really greener on the other side if we are not able to see clearly what is happening?

Empowering the Workforce Through Training: An Investment Return

Electronics manufacturers should take training seriously at all levels. To remain viable and competitive, it’s vital that they keep up with the latest technologies and practices in the electronics field. Perhaps more importantly, investment in employees keeps them engaged and excited in the performance of their daily work. Learning new methods and being exposed to new ideas is pivotal to personal growth.


What to Expect During the First Months of Trading with an EMS Provider

The start of an outsourcing partnership is an exciting time for an OEM, but it's also one that can be daunting. However much you've prepared for that big moment when you hand over responsibility for part or all of your manufacturing operation to your chosen EMS provider, it's still normal to question if you are making the right decision. This article explores five key areas that you and your chosen EMS partner should focus on during the initial months.

The EMS Skills Gap Epidemic

The manufacturing skills gap is real. Interviews with EMS industry executives across the country are united in their top concern for their businesses: finding new talent. Manufacturers can no longer afford to wait. It is time to educate and train the next generation of manufacturing.

6 Tips to Secure New Talent in Electronics Manufacturing

Closing the skills gap in engineering and electronics manufacturing is a topic that comes up for discussion time and time again. And many SMEs and large international companies within the industry have already taken positive steps to meet the demand for attracting and securing highly-skilled new talent.

How Much of My Electronics Manufacturing Should I Outsource?

Once you have decided to outsource to an EMS partner, you need to think about how much of your existing operation you plan to relinquish. This article looks at four distinct areas OEMs outsource—procurement, assembly, test and logistics—explores the benefits associated with relinquishing each of these, and highlights a number of questions that must be considered before any final decision is made.

The Need for Assembly Training and Education

While investing in the latest technologies and having a systems-based approach in your assembly processes are important, the key factors that will make you successful in your continuous improvement goal are the skills, training, and education of your workforce. However you look at it, the human factor remains a critical issue when it comes to your overall efficiency.

4 Ways Your EMS Partner Can Respond to Supply Chain Disruption

When disruptions to the electronic component supply chain occur, they are painful. Lead-times can extend overnight, prices can treble, and in some cases, parts are placed on allocation or discontinued altogether. These concerns amplify the need for EMS firms to have practices in place for dealing with supply chain disruption. This article discusses four ways your EMS partner can mitigate risks to your supply chain.

Perspectives from a First-Timer

Brad Heath, president and CEO of EMS company VirTex, is a first-time attendee of IMPACT Washington D.C. In an interview with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman, he talks about his impressions of the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. event, and how he thinks the industry benefits from such meetings with the policy makers in the government.

STI Electronics' Dave Raby Shares His Insights on IMPACT Washington DC 2017

During the recent IMPACT Washington D.C. 2017 event, I-Connect007 Managing Editor Patty Goldman caught up with Dave Raby, president and CEO of EMS firm STI Electronics, to discuss about the event and their meetings with representatives of the government that came over to hear what the collective electronics manufacturing industry has to say.

Mil/Aero Assembly Success

Davina McDonnell, director of marketing at Michigan-based EMS firm Saline Lectronics, discusses the latest technology and business trends driving the military and aerospace industries, the challenges in these markets—including supply chain issues such as obsolete parts and counterfeit components—and their strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

Field Failure is Not an Option

Audra Gavelis of IEC Electronics Corp. discusses the current challenges in electronics assembly for the military and aerospace markets and the new requirements they are getting from their customers. She also talks about strategies in dealing with component obsolescence and lifecycle issues, and new compliance issues that contract manufacturers are facing.


Four Ways to Buy Electronic Components and the Pros and Cons of Each

When you buy electronic components, there are a number of different supplier types available to you or your EMS partner. From dealing direct with an electronic manufacturer through to using brokers, there are benefits and pitfalls associated with each.

An Alternative Approach to Vertical Integration in Manufacturing

The days of OEMs owning large vertically integrated manufacturing assets are gone and will probably never return. Oddly, the large vertically integrated manufacturing capability of the OEMs started to be dismantled by the emergence of the EMS companies. Now, some of these same EMS companies are adopting the same, vertically integrated solutions themselves.

Does Your EMS Provider Have an Industry 4.0 Roadmap?

At its simplest level, the Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, is about automation and connectivity. This should lead to faster, more efficient manufacturing--and therefore advantageous pricing. Additionally, it might also mean that products can be made in a different way. For example, new processes might allow late customization or configuration, faster delivery, or enhanced quality.

The Importance of Supplier Training

The human factor remains a critical issue when it comes to the overall efficiency of your PCB assembly lines. But how do you make sure your operators, engineers and supervisors have the proper knowledge and skill sets to perform at their peak levels, day in and day out?

Today’s Mil/Aero Enemies: Counterfeits, Obsolescence and Failure

The need for high-reliability electronics, components and assemblies that can perform in harsh operating conditions involving extreme temperatures, vibration, and moisture continue to challenge electronics assembly providers catering to the military and aerospace markets. These are on top of current manufacturing issues such as the miniaturization of products, shrinking component sizes, higher density board assemblies, and the obsolescence of electronic components.

Is Configure to Order Manufacturing the Right Strategy for Me?

This article looks at what the term Configure to Order (CTO) means, the importance of supply chain management, where responsibilities lie when setting up new agreements with an EMS provider, and some of the benefits OEMs can expect to see when adopting a CTO strategy.

EMS Firm Tsukiden Electronics Seeing More Business in Prototypes

At the recent Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) held in Manila, Karen Flordiles, marketing supervisor at EMS firm Tsukiden Electronics Philippines Inc., talks about their customers' changing requirements and their manufacturing challenges. She also discussed new opportunities they are seeing in the EMS sector.

Technology Enabler Highlights Benefits of Having Design Services for an EMS Firm

At the 14th Philippine Semiconductor and Electronics Convention and Exhibition (PSECE) held last week in Manila, Robin Ramiso, design and development manager at Technology Enabler, discusses their activities, and the benefits of having a design services team for an EMS company with I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias.

The Significance of the PCB in the Value Chain of the European EMS Industry

At SMT Nuremberg, Pete Starkey meets with Dieter Weiss, who comments upon the significance of the PCB in the value chain of the European EMS industry, and looks to a future where we embrace an open-minded attitude and a willingness to work together.

A New Player in the Philippine EMS Industry

There's a new EMS player in town. Come August 2017, Artem Global, a startup EMS firm in the Philippines, will start manufacturing operations, with services ranging from PCB assembly to box build, and even turnkey services. I-Connect007 Managing Editor Stephen Las Marias caught up with Artem Managing Director Art Ledonio at last week's PSECE event in Manila.


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