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?
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.
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.
New Challenges Facing Mil/Aero Segment
For this month's issue, we invited a sampling of professionals whose experience centers on the electronics industry in the military and aerospace world, including experts from design, PCB manufacturing, and the assembly arena to sit down with us for a frank discussion. Our discussion centered on the challenges associated with military work, including the new regulatory requirements for cybersecurity, dealing with leaded vs. lead-free components, and the differences and similarities with the commercial world.
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.
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.
Assembly Training and Education
Even if your PCB assembly process is optimized, there is always room for improvement. And no matter how successful your company has been in the past, you just can’t rest on your laurels. It is always in your best interest to strive towards a better operations model. We've created a survey to help us gauge the importance of training and education in your workforce, and the benefits that you get in ensuring that your operators and engineers have the most current knowledge and skill sets.
Business and Technical Developments at Super Dry Totech
At the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey visits Super Dry Totech and spends a few minutes with CEO Jos Brehler and Sales Manager Terry Morgan to talk about the rationale behind ASYS Group's acquisition of stake in Super Dry Totech, as well as the latest technology developments happening at the company.
RTW NEPCON China: Data I/O on Securing the Supply Chain
At the recent NEPCON China show in Shanghai, Anthony Ambrose, president and CEO of Data I/O Corp., discusses the cybersecurity challenges facing the electronics manufacturing industry today amid the proliferation of connected devices and the Internet of Things.
Mentor Graphics: Connecting the Manufacturing Environment
Oren Manor serves as the director of business development for Mentor Graphics Valor Division. In this interview with SMT Magazine, Manor discusses the latest updates in their OML community, their case study regarding Phoenix Contact’s implementation of their IoT solution in its facilities, and what’s new in ODB++.
The Building Blocks of Industry 4.0
At the recent IPC APEX EXPO, Kevin Decker-Weiss, director of sales at CircuitByte, joins panellist from Mentor Graphics and EMS firm Saline Lectronics in a roundtable on the building blocks of Industry 4.0 hosted by Scoop. Here is his take on that panel and the show.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Metcal Brings Disruptive Technology in Hand Soldering
Christopher Larocca, president and CEO of OK International (of which Metcal is a division), tells I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties their strategy for improving the hand solder process. He describes a lack of process feedback to the operator as a core problem inherent in the hand soldering process, and discusses how OK International has developed an innovative solution to address the issue.
Dry Storage Cabinets' Role in Industry 4.0
At IPC APEX EXPO 2017, Rich Heimsch, Super Dry’s Director of the Americas, discusses the electronics manufacturing industry’s different versions of Industry 4.0, and his company's strategies in dealing with all of them. He also talks about Super Dry's latest storage developments.
Navigating the Complex World of Flex Circuit Assembly
We recently conducted a survey on flexible printed circuits to know more about the challenges that designers, fabricators, and assemblers face when dealing with flex circuits. We asked what steps in their processes have the biggest effect on yields; the challenge they face when dealing with flex circuit materials; as well as the factors that have the greatest impact on the quality of their flex circuit design, fabrication and assembly.
Industry 4.0: Nine Key Points Electronics Manufacturers Must Not Ignore
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is nothing if not massive and complicated. There is a huge amount of information out there, some useful and some perhaps less so. But, among the hype, there are a few consistent themes that really must not be ignored by manufacturers wishing to remain competitive in the future.
Real Time with...IPC: Cogiscan Discusses Connectivity Solutions to Enable Industry 4.0
Francois Monette, VP Sales and Marketing at Cogiscan Inc., talks about how the industry can meet the challenge of connecting different machines, software and enterprise systems to enable Industry 4.0 for the electronics assembly industry.
Bringing SMT Assembly In-House: Case Studies of the Effects on Lead Time, Inventory, Quality, and Overall Cost
A growing number of low- to medium-volume manufacturers of specialized electronic products are reaping the rewards of bringing their SMT assembly in-house. How have some of these companies justified the cost of their endeavors? In this article, three OEM companies share their experiences.
What’s Driving the Rapidly Changing Electronics Assembly Industry
Since the EMS landscape has become so competitive, staying on top of new advances in technology and being able to rapidly adapt to changing customer needs, market demands, trends and technological advances is critical. This article highlights some examples of how electronics assembly technology developments have impacted the EMS industry in recent years and will likely continue shaping the industry in the future.
Investing in New Technologies
Electronics manufacturers are beginning to consider investing in new systems to take their processes to the next level. In our recent survey on the topic of new technology, the top reasons cited by manufacturers to invest in new technologies are to increase efficiency, improve yield, reduce cycle time, and the advance capability of the process.
Reflections on 40 Years of Test and Measurement and What Lies Ahead
Dr. James Truchard, President, CEO, and Cofounder of National Instruments, has penned his reflections on the last 40 years driving and leading some of the greatest progress and innovations the test and measurement industry has seen. In the article, he also leaves us with his thoughts on how he envisions the future to be.
Tin Whisker Mitigation Methodologies: Report from SMART Group, Part 1
Since the introduction of the RoHS legislation in 2006, the threat of tin-whisker-related short circuit failure from pure tin finished components has remained a major concern within the high-reliability electronics manufacturing industry. In this article, Editor Pete Starkey reviews a recent seminar by the SMART Group to discuss tin whisker mitigation methodologies and strategies.
Achieving the Smart Factory Vision
James Liu, director of Standardization and Electronics Manufacturing at the Smart Factory Institute of the China Science and Technology Automation Alliance, talks about helping small- and medium-sized companies transform their production into smart factories. He explains the challenges these companies face, and the need for a free, open interface to connect disparate electronics manufacturing equipment and systems on the factory floor.
Industry 4.0 and the Circular Economy
There has been much written recently about Industry 4.0, and rightly so as it's a huge and far-reaching concept that will have an enormous impact on our design and manufacturing industries in the coming years. Even so, Industry 4.0 is just part of an idea that is much, much bigger; something known as the "circular economy".
Smart for Smart’s Sake, Part 1
In his previous article, Michael Ford wrote about the various historical methods of collecting data from shop-floor processes, and how it compares to the fully normalized approach of OML, where data from any machine operation can be expressed in a single interoperable language. This article discusses the next layer of activity—how the data collected is to be used for asset utilization and productivity.
Ionics EMS Talks Industry 4.0, Mil/Aero Opportunities, and Supply Chain
In an interview with SMT Magazine, Dr. Jay Sabido, president and COO of Ionics EMS Inc., discusses a wide range of topics, including Industry 4.0, automation, and the challenges in the military and aerospace industry, including lead-free, counterfeit components, and traceability.
Is Your Electronics Manufacturing Factory 'Smart'?
Despite the amount of content being produced around big data, Industry 4.0, digital manufacturing, mass customization and various other subjects, a large number of electronics manufacturing companies still don't fully understand this question. This article looks to provide guidance on how you can assess your manufacturing facility without investing huge amounts of time and money upfront.
Real Time with NEPCON South China: Mentor Graphics Discusses Control on the Shop Floor
Ofer Lavi Ben David, director of shop floor manufacturing solutions at Mentor Graphics Valor Division, talks with I-Connect007’s Stephen Las Marias about how the smart factory should look, their Open Manufacturing Language, and their solution to provide end-to-end visibility and control in the shop floor.
Real Time with NEPCON South China: WKK on Automation, China Outlook, Challenges and Opportunities
Victor J.S. Chang, director and general manager of WKK Distribution Ltd, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the increasing automation trend in the region; the efforts of the Chinese government to support the growth of advanced manufacturing; and the latest initiatives at WKK.
Will The “Internet of Manufacturing” Really Impact Business?
Supporting legacy, new, and future automated processes, as well as the vast number of manual processes in use today, is the key to being able to successfully introduce the Internet of Manufacturing into SMT production.
Case Study: Flex Smart Factory at Fuyong
This paper discusses Flex's experience with their current project called Smart Factory, which is being implemented at their Fuyong facility in Shenzhen, China. It also highlights some of the benefits they have achieved, including traceability, improved productivity and quality, and minimized defects through process predictability.
The Industry Speaks
In the latest issue of SMT Magazine, we take a pause from covering the latest technology trends, challenges, and solutions in the electronics manufacturing and assembly industry. Instead, we are focusing on our readers—to give a voice to their thoughts on the industry, companies, jobs, interests, and even pain points when it comes to their respective specialties.
Integrated Manufacturing Solutions: an EMS, ODM, CM, and OEM!
Robbin Thompson, VP Business Development at San Diego-based contract manufacturer Integrated Manufacturing Solutions (IMS), speaks with I-Connect007's Barry Matties and Judy Warner about her company's expansion, production capabilities and product lineup, as well as the culture at IMS.
The Benefits of 3D Printing within Contract Electronics Manufacturing
The buzz around 3D printing, or additive manufacturing as it also known, continues to grow day-by-day, and it is regularly hailed as a revolutionary "new" process. This article discusses the basics of 3D printing and the different types of printing processes that exist, along with the benefits these bring to contract electronics manufacturers and the customers they serve.
Industry 4.0: Making the First Move
Many companies now have active Industry 4.0, Internet of Manufacturing, or smart factory projects. In each case, different approaches were taken that appeared to best fit the project requirements and that would deliver the intended benefits versus the cost and effort investment needed. However, there is no best solution. This article explains why.
EPC’s Michael de Rooij Discusses Strategic Partnership with Wurth Electronik
Michael de Rooij, PhD, of Efficient Power Conversion Corp. (EPC) talks to I-Connect007 guest editor Kim Sauer about their strategic alliance with Wurth Electronik, how their cooperation works, and how the technology solution they are co-developing can address the wireless power challenge as a whole.
Improving Test and Inspection
In our recent survey on PCBA test and inspection challenges, respondents consider the following to be among their biggest problems: probing to narrower traces and pads; testing boards with smaller and finer features and sizes; dry solder and other solder-related issues; finding sublayer defects; dealing with flat, no-lead components; and testing cycle time. This month, we look into different PCBA test and inspection strategies that address the key challenges in today’s electronics manufacturing and assembly environment.
Solder Paste Dispensing: Breaking the Limits of Printing
In an interview with SMT Magazine, Eric Gu, application manager at Nordson Asymtek China, talks about the greatest challenges and innovations in solder paste dispensing, and factors to consider when using solder paste dispensers.
Solder Paste Exploration
From the manufacturers of solder pastes, to equipment makers, all the way to the solder paste inspection guys, and the electronics assemblers who are using their products, I talked to the supply chain to find out what’s going on in the solder paste printing process, what factors impact the process, the challenges, and the best practices to consider to be able to address those challenges and improve efficiencies and yield in the SMT line.
Reducing Setup Time to Provide More Uptime in Production
In an interview with I-Connect007 at the recent IPC APEX EXPO event in Las Vegas, Bob Bouchard, corporate marketing manager at BTU, talks about the latest developments in their products, how their technology is helping users reduce their setup times, and the impact of Industry 4.0 in the electronics assembly industry.
How Far Does It Make Sense to Automate?
There are often many advantages to automating the final assembly process, but how far does it make sense to automate? Is a fully automated process better than a semi-automated, or partially manual process? This article tells you more about the challenges and advantages of automation, and the right approach to adopt based on your operations.
The Importance of Being Earnest (Educated)
This new column in SMT Magazine, titled "Jumping Off the Bandwagon," is dedicated to the continued development and improvement of the high-tech electronic product assembly industry, and the human component of that industry. For his first article, Tom Borkes talks about issues that, unless addressed, will continue to put product assembly at a disadvantage in high labor rate areas of the world.
Best-Practice Process Preparation for PCB Assembly
In this high-pressure environment, process preparation systems need to be able to cope with every aspect and production, all machines and processes, without mistakes and without confusion, to scale the flexibility and responsiveness of the production operation in line with customer and market expectations.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Mentor Graphics Takes Manufacturing Operations to the Next Level
Dan Hoz, general manager of Mentor Graphics Valor Division, discusses with I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy how they are helping electronics manufacturers take their operations to the next level through their Valor IoT Manufacturing solutions. He talks about the OML and the Valor IoT Device, and how these solutions will help the electronics manufacturing industry to move to Industry 4.0.
The Buyer’s Guide to Automation
Back in the 1990s when high-volume production was still enjoyed by most operations, the idea of replacing remaining manual operations with automated processes seemed like a great idea, but the technology at the time did not quite deliver on expectations. Today, the same goals for automation are once again in play; but this time, although technical capabilities have vastly improved, little high-volume is left.
RTW IPC APEX EXPO: Mentor Graphics Makes Internet of Manufacturing Affordable
Michael Ford, marketing development manager at Mentor Graphics, and I-Connect007 editor Andy Shaughnessy discuss the Open Manufacturing Language (OML), the challenges in supporting the hundreds of thousands of machines that are out there at shopfloors already, and how Mentor is making the Internet of Manufacturing affordable for everyone in the PCB assembly supply chain.
IPC APEX EXPO: Rethink Robotics Provides a Glimpse into the Future of Electronics Assembly Industry
Carl Palme, applications product manager at Rethink Robotics, discusses with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias the impact of robotics, and its future, in the electronics assembly industry.
According to our recent survey, the key challenges impacting profitablility of electronics manufacturers and assemblers are cost, process improvement, changing customer demand, design, training, and Lean manufacturing. The March 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights strategies that will help electronics manufacturers address those issues and achieve profitability in their operations.
Magnetically Aligned Novel ACA Revolutionizes 3D Chip Stacking
The use of anisotropic conductive adhesive (ACA) is not new within the electronics industry; however, drop-in replacements don't exist for lead-based and lead-free solder assemblies. Also, current ACAs require pressure and sequential assembly of components. In this article, Rochester Institute of Technology's Dr. S. Manian Ramkumar writes about a novel ACA that will help revolutionize the packaging industry.
EMS: Quo Vadis? (Where are You Going?)
In an industry that is constantly changing, EMS providers have reinvented themselves to stay relevant and fuel profitable growth. In this article, Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc.'s Frederick Blancas talks about five of the many transformation trends happening in the EMS industry, and how they are pushing the industry to continue to evolve, progress and advance.
New Year Outlook: China’s Five Year Plan
In this article, Dr. Jennie Hwang writes about the latest developments in the current global economic landscape, as well as mega-technological trends, which include: the highlights of macro-economy outlook, China factor, oil dynamics, cyber security, and grand challenges in technology and the path forward.
Medical EMS: Opportunities Abound
Megatrends such as the increasingly ageing population and growing demand in emerging economies worldwide bode well for the medical electronics assembly industry. However, challenges such as margin pressures, compliance costs and risks, supply chain instability, and new product introduction headaches are hindering a more aggressive prognosis of the industry. But, with innovation, medical manufacturers can churn out more.
Valtronic Highlights Vital Components in Medical Electronics Manufacturing
Jay Wimer, executive vice president of the Valtronic Group, and president and CEO of Valtronic USA, discusses the impact of the medical market on the electronics manufacturing industry, the challenges facing medical electronics manufacturers and technology providers, and how the trends happening in the medical electronics segment are driving innovation in electronics manufacturing.
Top 10 Factors to Consider When Selecting a Medical EMS Company
Once the decision has been made to use an EMS company, selecting the right one involves several steps. Although most EMS companies perform the same basic services, every EMS company is different. In this article, Mo Ohady and David Estes of Digicom Electronics write the 10 key factors to consider when selecting your medical EMS company.
Medical Electronics: Manufacturing Vitals
With the rapidly growing aging population, rising healthcare costs and increasing health awareness, opportunities abound in consumer medical devices, diagnostics, imaging, and instrumentation. However, the medical electronics industry is not without its own set of challenges. The January 2016 issue of SMT Magazine highlights the manufacturing challenges and opportunities in this growing sector.
Industry 4.0: Creating a Standard
Mentor Graphics Valor Division's Dan Hoz, general manager, and Ofer Lavi Ben David, product line director, discuss where Industry 4.0 is taking the industry, and the changes it will bring to both large and small companies, customers, and the supply chain, including how Mentor connects different machines on the shop floor to provide universal Industry 4.0 visibility.
iNEMI: Leading the Way to Successful Electronics Manufacturing
iNEMI CEO Bill Bader talks about the consortium’s goals and mission, its collaborative projects, as well as its roadmap for the electronics manufacturing industry. Bader also highlights iNEMI’s milestones in line with the major trends that have happened in the electronics industry, including the transition to lead-free, addressing tin whisker growth, and the move towards HFR-free PCB materials.
The Key to Understanding Industry 4.0: Show, Don’t Tell!
At the recent productronica event in Germany, Mentor Graphics set up a racecar track in their booth. In an interview with I-Connect007, Michael Ford, senior marketing development manager at Mentor's Valor Division, explains why it's a perfect analogy for understanding Industry 4.0.
SMART Group: The Guiding Influence in the Electronics Industry
Founded in 1984, the SMART Group promotes advanced manufacturing technologies and helps companies cope with the challenges of surface mount technology. In an interview with I-Connect007, Keith Bryant, chairman of SMART Group, discusses the association, its activities, and how it is supporting the electronics manufacturing and SMT industries.
Low-Temperature Thick Film Pastes Permit Lead-Free Soldering
There has been an increased interest in low-temperature polymer thick film products that perform at the same level as their high-temperature counterparts, including high reliability, strong adhesion, and solderability with lead-free solders. This article talks about a new, easy-to-process polymer thick film paste compatible with a variety of substrates, features low temperature curing, and offers excellent solderability with SAC305 solder.
Making Connections with Associations
To provide our readers more information about their associations, this month's issue of SMT Magazine features articles and interviews with SMTA, IPC, iNEMI, SMART Group, and VDMA Productronics, to help understand more their activities, goals, and missions, and how they are helping push forward the electronics manufacturing industry.
Electrolube Discusses Conformal Coating Innovations
At productronica 2015, SMT007 editor, Stephen Las Marias, interviewed Phil Kinner, technical director of Electrolube's Coatings Division, about the latest conformal coating challenges being faced by their customers, and how they are addressing these issues. He also talked about the trends driving product innovation strategies at Electrolube, and some of the new solutions they are offering the market.
The New Industrial Era
Key transformative technologies such as big data, analytics, and IoT are ushering in a new industrial era, where new technology forces and innovations are changing the dynamics, risks, and success factors for global manufacturing companies. To be successful in this environment, a mindset shift is required when it comes to deciding what to do and how to take your manufacturing operations to the next level.
Surface Mount Technology Association—a New Milestone
With a grand mission, SMTA is an international network of professionals who build skills, share practical experience and develop solutions in electronic assembly technologies, including microsystems, emerging technologies, and related business operations. The organization delivers the right information at the right time to empower the workforce, who collectively advances technology, innovates new products, and serves the global industry.
Faster, More Precise Jet-dispensing in Microsystems Technology
As miniaturization advances relentlessly, the components that need to be connected are becoming ever smaller and more delicate. At the same time, quality standards and the functionality of the materials are increasing. This development requires joining processes that can reliably fix the smallest of components.
OK International Talks Trends Driving Product Innovation Strategies
Bryan Gass, vice president for global sales and marketing at OK International, discussed with I-Connect007's Stephen Las Marias how trends such as automation, wearables, and Industry 4.0 are driving his company's product innovation strategies.
Declaring War on Failure in Electronics
Failure, in electronics, while not necessarily desired by either manufacturer or consumer, is expected. This is not to say that the industry has not attempted to improve reliability. In this article, Verdant Electronics' Joseph Fjelstad writes that much is being done in an effort to improve reliability with new solder alloys, new fluxes, new materials, new equipment and process parameters.
Mechatronics Innovations and Applications
In an interview with I-Connect007, Edward Neff, President of SMAC Moving Coil Actuators, discusses some of the latest mechatronics innovations happening in his company, and how these developments are being applied in different industries including electronics assembly and robotics.
Meeting High-Speed Demand with Optical Circuits
In an interview with I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties, Felix Betschon of vario-optics discusses the advancements in optical circuit boards, and explains the core advantage of this technology and what circuit designers must do to add optical circuits into their design disciplines. He also talks about the opportunities for this new technology, and what's driving customers to consider adopting it.
A Review of the Opportunities and Processes for Printed Electronics (Part 4): Applications
In Part 4 of this five-part article series, Happy Holden talks about the market applications for printed electronics. He writes that while there are several areas for application of PE solutions, such as in sensing, identification and security, and power, it is the display segment that is considered to be the most interesting potential application.
A Review of the Opportunities and Processes for Printed Electronics (Part 1)
As microsystems continue to move towards higher speed and microminiaturization, the demands for interconnection are opening up new opportunities for "innovative" interconnects. In the first part of this five-part article series, Happy Holden gives a brief background on printed electronics, as well as presents key technologies that are being employed for PE production.
iNEMI Managing Director: New, Disruptive Technology on the Horizon
Dr. Haley Fu, managing director of Asia Pacific for iNEMI, and Publisher Barry Matties spoke recently. Fu gave her overview of the last eight years with iNEMI along with her opinion of what the most significant changes have been, globally and for the Asia market in particular. She predicts that in the future, the PCB will probably adopt optical architectures instead of copper, because using copper for the trace means that the land space and the property will not satisfy the future high-speed data transport rate.
A Conversation (and Day) with Joe Fjelstad, Part 2
In Part 2 of this multi-part interview series, Verdant Electronics Founder and CEO Joe Fjelstad, and I-Connect007 Publisher Barry Matties discuss the future of what’s to come for the electronics industry, which, according to Fjelstad, has a lot to do with where we’ve just been in our quest for lead-free manufacturing. He also offers his view on the natural order of the evolution of personal political persuasions.
NEPCON China Showcases Latest Manufacturing Tech in Asia
Considered Asia's biggest, most influential SMT and electronics manufacturing event, NEPCON China 2015 attracted over 450 leading brands from 22 countries, who are showcasing this week the latest electronics manufacturing technologies and products across an exhibition area of 25,000 sqm. I-Connect007 is on hand again this year covering this event with exclusive interviews and photos from the show floor.
The Rise of Structural Electronics
Structural electronics is one of the most important technological developments of this century. It forms a key part of the dream, first formulated 30 years ago, of computing disappearing into the fabric of society. It also addresses, in a particularly elegant manner, the dream of Edison in 1880 that electricity should be made where it is needed.
Sanmina: Automation in Production Lines
With so much discussion about the increasing amount of automation in the world of electronics assembly Editor Richard Ayes asked Gelston Howell, senior VP at Sanmina, to provide perspective on the state of manufacturing automation. Howell discusses the current state of automated electronics assembly systems, the inherent risks and challenges, and the future of robotics in manufacturing.