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Real Time with... SMTAI 2023: Leo Lambert: EPTAC on the MoveOctober 9, 2023 | Nolan Johnson, I-Connect007
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Leo Lambert, vice president and technical advisor at EPTAC, shares with Nolan Johnson the current trends and emerging needs in certification training. Like so many things in our industry at the moment, training is changing. Not only is the curriculum changing, but how we teach it is evolving rapidly. Lambert discusses how EPTAC is meeting these new needs.
Nolan Johnson: Hi, Nolan Johnson here for Real Time With… SMTA International. I am pleased to be speaking today with Leo Lambert. He's the vice president and technical director at EPTAC. Leo, welcome.
Leo Lambert: Hi, how are you?
Johnson: Doing fine. I'm really curious: This is SMTA international 2023. What's new at EPTAC since 2022’s show?
Lambert: Growth. Trying to get the people and new instructors to be able to do the job. It's interesting, as we all know that getting new people to work and get more instructors is a difficult thing. Growth is a big thing. We've opened up an office out in San Jose, which is great. And from the SMTA perspective, it’s all the papers that come through that organization that we’re involved with, and so on. There's a lot of information that gets transferred to the SMTA.
Johnson: It's news to have an office in San Jose, that's for sure. How many facilities do you have now?
Lambert: We have one in New Hampshire; one in Markham, Ontario; we have one in San Jose; and we're looking for more and hiring trainers. We've got about 20 trainers at this point. But by having them around the country, it's a lot easier to service their clients and have less travel costs. There's a lot of effort in getting people in different parts of the country.
Johnson: How many additional trainers do you think you need?
Lambert: Great question, I think we could use another four or five.
Johnson: That's a significant number, and that reflects what seems to be happening in the talent pool throughout this industry and the economy as a whole. There is a talent shortage, and that continues. How does that affect your client companies, the people you're working with to provide training?
Lambert: When COVID hit, the industry lost a lot of, let's just say, the older generations, the tribal knowledge. Getting the new people is a more difficult job, really. Because in bringing new people, they don't have the experience. We can talk about the subject material, but you know, anecdotal stories that support your information helps a lot, especially in training.
We have to take a look at the training programs, whether they're IPC programs or not, and how they're delivered from the perspective of the way the material is the limit to the new recipients; the new generation did not learn the same way we did. So, we've got to change our methodology, if you will.
We're working on that all the time with IPC and various other programs and people.
Johnson: What are their most requested training subjects?
Lambert: That's where we're building up a new talent pool.
Johson: I have to assume that there are some shifts in what training is required, and where are the gaps requested? A few years back, IPC started trying to get a program because typically, when you come out of college, you'd become an electrical engineer or mechanical engineer—an engineer with some discipline.
Lambert: The first place is the design cycle, the process of designing printed circuit boards and functionality; all the electrical engineers have that capacity. Design, though, is not taught in school. So, programs and specifications that are related to the design of the products become important.
As you know, there is the miniaturization of products; although the materials may remain the same, everything is shrinking. Different things that we used to take for granted before, we can't take for granted now. All these kinds of things are what we were trying, and IPC is working hard too. Also, what do we need to teach emerging engineers? When they come out of school, we can provide them with that kind of information.
But with the specs of the training programs that we have, in addition to the design issues, we have to take a look at the supplemental documents, for example, that help in understanding what the subject material is all about. I put a list together, for example, on the solderability spec for wired terminals and printed circuit boards that is mentioned in a lot of documents. People have always been asking us, “What's in there? How can you explain that to us?” IPC-6012 is a document for the qualification spec for buying raw boards, but no one talks about the flex circuits. There's a specification on that too.
IPC-6013—people are always asking about. We have to blend those kinds of documents in.
Typically, the requirements for IPC certification come from contracts. Customers are saying that people need to be trained to IPC-J-STD-001, IPC-6102, things like that. So those documents, the -01 document, has two sections, if you will. One is a programs section, and one is a product section. The program section talks about how you're going to do things—the qualification of materials, flux, solder, paste, solder, and all this. When they say you're going to build it according to -01, if you don't have those materials qualified, they could reject your product for using an unqualified material.
That's the front part of that document. The back part of that document talks about the product. What does a bad joint look like? Those are the kinds of things that are important, I think. But there's no training programs on those and the people that are using the documents need to know what goes on there.
Three other ones that I think are important would be thinking about components. You know, they come hermetically sealed. What happens if I take them out? We're building product, and if we don't have all the parts, they're going to hang around outside the ovens. IPC-J-STD-020 and IPC/JDEC J-STD-33 are two of those documents that I think people should know about. The last one that I've got is IPC-9911, which is basically a troubleshooting guide for the board assembly process. If this happens, what are you doing next? If this happens, what do you do then? Those kinds of questions are involved in that document. I think those are the kinds of documents that help build the background for the specs and would help the people getting the documents and the certifications. It would help develop their knowledge and empower them to add more knowledge.
Johnson: You mentioned at the beginning of this conversation that there might be changes in how training is delivered. How have the younger people you're training now learned differently than previous generations? How does that affect the product that you deliver?
Lambert: Well, we started with COVID a couple years back. As for the methodology of providing the subject material, we go to your website as one option. We have scheduled classes throughout; a live class with an instructor. We do a lot of things online. We need to do more videos, more short zip videos that give an example in a demo as you're going along. When you take a look at the way television works, the blurbs and the commercials used to be able to address things like that.
I'm involved with one of the local schools and you go into the classes, they don't all sit down in rows like we used to when we were kids; they're all working in teams. They've all got earphones on; they're listening to music. How do we get that message across to them in the same way? Because I think they work better that way. That's something that we're learning. We're learning as we go along how to do it, how to how to make it work, for getting the class involved. Since they don't have certification programs, one way to do that would be to put blurbs together on these particular topics, and offer those out on the website or on social media so that they can access it.
Johnson: Back to my original question about what's new at EPTAC in the last year, it’s a lot!
Lambert: A lot is right.
Johnson: Well, have a great show at SMTA International here in October, and I look forward to seeing you there.
Lambert: Okay, thank you very much.
Johnson: I’m here with Leo Lambert, vice president and technical director at EPTA, I'm Nolan Johnson. Thanks for listening.
Aspocomp Group Plc has concluded the change negotiations started on January 4, 2024, which concerned the company’s entire personnel in Finland, approximately 150 people.
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