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At SMTAI, I-Connect007's Andy Shaughnessy spoke with Quintin Armstrong, general manager for North American sales and service with Saki America. Quintin discussed Saki’s 3D and X-ray inspection equipment and the company’s expansion around the globe, as well as the inspection challenges his customers face every day.
Andy Shaughnessy: I'm here at SMTAI in Chicago, speaking with Quintin Armstrong of Saki America. Quintin is the GM of sales and service for Saki America. Quintin, why don't you start off by giving us a little background about Saki.
Quintin Armstrong: Sure, Andy. Saki has been in business for 21 years, always in the AOI market. They started off developing the line scan technology, which became so dominant in the 2D realm that we have seen up to this point in time. Saki has a good long history with those products, developing those algorithm-based machines. The AOI market has a couple different sides to it: the comparative imaging or the algorithm based machines. Saki really has some leading technology for the algorithm-based side.
In the last few years, of course 3D has become the topic. Once again, Saki has played a leading role in taking the market into the 3D realm. One of the things that we see becoming common among the different players in the market is to not focus on just one niche that maybe the company started in. Some companies were focused on SPI, others on AOI, but nowadays we see everybody crossing over to get more of a complete product lineup.
Saki was one of the first to come out with the full 3D lineup—SPI, AOI, and the AXI. One of the differentiators for Saki is having the X-ray products. Saki plays in all areas of the optical and X-ray inspection market, the full 3D lineup. We've been seeing a lot of companies interested in acquiring the newer inspection machines to get into 3D inspection.
Initially, it seemed like a lot of customers were a little bit reluctant, not sure if the technology had developed to the point where it really would be practical and useful for their environment. Certainly the evidence is showing that it's definitely the way to go. We see everybody focusing on this, customers and suppliers alike.
Shaughnessy: What sort of challenges are your customers facing? What sort of demand are they placing on you?
Armstrong: Certainly the technology always gets more and more complex. The size of components is always getting smaller and smaller. Those have been factors all along as things have progressed. That continues to be the situation, but you also see more of an emphasis now on the full inspection process. For example, maybe going back to the beginning when the optical inspection started, a lot of companies really got into it so they could say that they had AOI, but maybe it really didn't play a meaningful role in the quality of the end product.
Certainly integrating all of this equipment, so it really does have a major role in the end quality of the product, has become more and more of the focus. It's not just enough to say you have AOI and hit the button every time you have a false call, and say that everything is fine. The focus is on improving the efficiency of the machines, reducing those false calls and escape rates. Of course, any occurrence of defect escapes into the process is going to create problems in the field. Those have been challenges all along and continue to develop, but Saki's solutions have certainly always been the best in minimizing false calls, and eliminating escapes.
One of the other things we see now is the connectivity and the exchange of the information throughout the product process. That also plays a role in the inspection equipment, not only is it important to identify the errors that come up in the manufacturing process, but being able to maintain the database of all the information that is gathered and can be gathered throughout this process.