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Towards a Silicon to Systems Industrial Strategy

"Electronics systems are at the heart of almost all modern technology. The performance and functionality of these systems have increased at breathtaking speed, chiefly as a result of advancements in semiconductor technology. Semiconductors do not function in isolation," writes Alison James, IPC senior director of government relations, in a 2023 report for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship. "These electronics systems feature prominently in key sectors like defence, aerospace, space, automotive, medical, and high-performance computing, but electronics are vital to every industry and are central to a variety of EU priorities, including the twin digital and green transitions and Europe’s technological sovereignty."

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

This week has been chock full of news about upcoming trade shows and conferences. Clearly, the season is upon us. This week, I-Connect007 reported on PCB West in Santa Clara (often referred to as the show which kicks off trade show season) and the topic of artificial intelligence was everywhere. By the looks of it, not just at the conference, either. For months now, the mainstream media has been gobbling up all sorts of news about generative AI engines, painting the picture that we’ll all lose our jobs to these tools, while also reporting on situations where the results from AI have gotten progressively worse over time.

CHIPS Act Priorities

As expected, the U.S. Department of Commerce is actively administering to the $53 billion of funding in the CHIPS Act. A key committee in this process is the CHIPS Act Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC). Recently IPC vice president and chief technology officer Matt Kelly offered a printed circuit board and system-wide perspective to the IAC, part of the ongoing advocacy efforts being undertaken by IPC and other organizations, and later answered some questions about what he presented and how it was received.

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

We’ve had a hot week in this industry. In my picks for this week, we introduce a new SMT007 columnist, and we have a look at the CHIPS Act one year later. We have a great article about sourcing diversification, and a look at the latest electronics news coming out of India. And columnist Vern Solberg explains DFM best practices for flexible circuits.

Meet Aidan Salvi of Amitron, SMT007 Columnist

Meet Aidan Salvi, our newest SMT007 and Mil-Aero columnist. Aidan’s columns will focus on Factory 5.0, the transition of robots to cobots centering on cooperation between robots and humans, as well as state-of-the-art technologies in electronics manufacturing and printed circuit board design and production. Aidan is the Chief Transformation Officer at Amitron, a leading U.S.-based manufacturers of printed circuit boards and provider of electronic manufacturing services.

Women’s Leadership Program at SMTA International 2023

The Women’s Leadership Program is a popular, annually recurring event hosted during SMTA International. This year’s event is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 9, at the Minneapolis Convention Center and is free for all participants at SMTA International. The theme for this year’s program is “Personal Branding: Creating an Authentic and Sustainable Perception.”

Sourcing Diversification – Empowering Your Supply Chain for Success

In today's interconnected and rapidly evolving business landscape, sourcing diversification has emerged as a crucial strategy for organizations aiming to stay competitive and thrive in a dynamic marketplace. The traditional approach of relying on a single source for procurement is being replaced by a more sophisticated and strategic mindset that emphasizes the advantages of exploring multiple procurement channels. This approach not only opens doors to a whole different network of suppliers, but also offers numerous benefits, such as navigating sales increases, ensuring smoother deliveries, and promoting innovation within the organization.

Book Excerpt: ‘The Printed Circuit Assembler's Guide to... Process Control,’ Chapter 3

Chapter 3 of 'The Printed Circuit Assembler's Guide to... Process Control' takes a look at the deficiencies between PICT and ROSE test methods. In addition, the two commonly encountered equipment arrangements of SEC, identified as closed loop and open loop, are discussed.

CHIPS Act, One Year On

Fresh off his annual meeting with the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA), Travis Kelly, CEO at Isola Group and chairman of the PCBAA, gave us an update on government legislation in the United States that directly and indirectly affects the printed circuit board industry. Travis was candid in his remarks about funding from the CHIPS Act, what the PCB industry needs to do, and how a bill reintroduced into Congress this year might be just the ticket we need.

SMTA International 2023 Conference Program Highlights

The program for the SMTA International Technical Conference is finalized with 90 great papers presented across 30+ sessions. Each session features two to four presentations on a related topic and is organized into the following tracks. Check it out!

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

As I looked over the news and stories of the week, I noticed "firsts" from Insulectro and Lockheed Martin, plus a historic transition in leadership at Foxconn. There’s also financial health from KLA, and upbeat market data from IPC. With the start of a new school year, and often a fiscal year, September brings a sense of newness and change for many of us.

SMTAI Conference Schedule at a Glance

SMTA International provides your best chance to reconnect with the global electronics manufacturing community and to stay competitive, identify challenges, innovate and exceed expectations. We invite you to attend this year's SMTA International Conference and Exhibition, Oct. 9–12, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minnesota. We are proud of our legacy of providing outstanding networking and learning experiences and this year will be no different. The conference and exhibition are a unique opportunity for us to connect, discover, and learn from each other and industry experts.

An Invitation from SMTA President Martin Anselm

As the current president of SMTA, I’d like to extend an invitation to everyone in the electronics manufacturing industry to join us Oct. 9–12, 2023 at the Minneapolis Convention Center in in Minnesota for our flagship event—SMTA International Conference and Exposition. This event is once again co-located with MD&M Minneapolis, providing an intriguing mix of related manufacturing technology cross-over among the respective shows.

PCBs Garnering Legislative Support

In an op-ed published in San Jose’s Mercury News, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) speaks to the importance of the electronics manufacturing ecosystems in the United States. Eshoo’s constituency is California’s 16th district, based in Silicon Valley. Along with Rep. Blake Moore (R-UT), Eshoo introduced HR 3249, the Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act, a bill supporting the U.S. printed circuit board manufacturing industry.

A Labor Day Holiday Notice

Today is a national holiday in both the United States and Canada (though the Canadians spell it Labour Day). The U.S. Labor Day has been federal holiday since 1894, and honors both the American labor movement and the contributions of laborers in the creation of the United States. Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September and is often considered the last day of summer in American culture. This is likely because the American school schedules resume around the beginning of September.

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

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, we have a variety of articles for this week’s editor’s picks. Hannah Nelson discusses the onboarding process she went through when she started a new job. Gaurab Majumdar explains why tech companies should consider hiring workers from India. Happy Holden details the importance of great sensor technology and why sensors are a critical ingredient in Smart manufacturing processes. Mike Brask discusses the new IPS ENIG line installed at the SEL facility in Idaho, and Chris DeMartino explains how Modelithics works to provide simulation models, primarily for the RF/microwave community.

IPC Day Comes to Romania

When IPC staff wanted to showcase the latest industry developments to a European audience, they made an obvious choice: Timi?oara, Romania. The dramatic economic expansion here over the past 30 years has resulted in a large concentration of manufacturing and technology businesses. Long-term planning by authorities positioned the city as a business-friendly and diverse cultural hub on the western border, providing easy access to Central Europe.

It All Starts With Sensors

Sensor technology is at the heart of any manufacturing data collection, especially for the digital stream—it all starts with sensors—but there is so much more. Sensors need connections to instruments, and some actions need predictions, the process is sensing, connection, and predicting. Sensing assumes sensors. Connecting can be any intelligent device that provides a program or signal conditioning and then makes that data available to the rest of the organization. Predicting is the difficult step.

An Industry-ready Workforce in India

When young technicians and engineers join a company, they need time to thoroughly understand the production and quality processes. IPC is dedicated to making it easier for new employees to learn these needed skills. An office was set up in India in 2010 and has been instrumental in providing more than 13,000 certifications while connecting with more than 500 electronics manufacturing companies there. This has led to an initiative to train college students through IPC’s workforce development courses.

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

This week’s editor’s picks come from the top end of reader interest, so I don’t think it’s just me who’s sensing this kind of momentum. For example, we bring you a site visit to one of the newest PCB fabs in North America, and a captive facility at that. Nokia is now manufacturing sophisticated telecom optical components in the United States, and iNEMI publishes a roadmap assisting in specifying the right low-loss material for your particular application, among other topics. To wrap it up, we get NASA news that reminds us that we need not be a big corporation to participate in space programs.

A Pilot Program Soars in Mexico

With plants in Tijuana and Guadalajara, Mexico, that staff more than 3,000 employees, Benchmark Electronics has a continual need for training and certification to stay competitive. Through a unique partnership with IPC, the company was able to train nearly 100 operators and engineers through a pilot program that saved them money and elevated the knowledge base of their workforce. In this interview, Elizabeth Magana, a regional human resources director for Benchmark, Lorena Villanueva, IPC director of Mexico, and Carlos Plaza, IPC senior director of education development, detail the pilot program and how it serves as an example of training success in electronics manufacturing

The Vision: Virtual to Support Real Operations

It’s time to make the ideal of digital transformation a reality. Everyone seems to agree that is the path to manufacturing business success. Yet, not everyone knows how to proceed toward this digital future right now. Hint: Combine the new Industry 4.0 technologies such as digital twin and augmented reality (AR) with up-to-date versions of proven software systems, particularly manufacturing execution systems (MES). Or better yet, find systems that inherently do that for you. Then create ways to ensure these digital and virtual systems reflect and fully support your physical and real operations.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to... Process Control,' Chapter 2

Firstly, and most importantly, work by the standards; they make it easier for you. They have been created for your benefit by a group of respected experts. If you are considering SIR testing, whether using a test house or setting up an in-house facility, then the following complementary documents are essential reading.

Manufacturing Isn’t Linear; Stop Planning That Way

In the last couple of years, exacerbated by the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, the uncomfortable reality is that many manufacturers are not well prepared to properly deal with and respond to last minute changes in the supply chain, worker availability, or major swings in customer demand. Many of you likely have a painful story or two about scrambling to address unexpected changes in the production plan and schedule over the last few years.

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

This week, we have an article about flex-hybrid electronics, which the military and aerospace folks are following closely. We have an article about the digital twin and what it is—and what it’s not. We have 10 outside-the-box ideas for closing the deal—be sure to forward this to your sales team. John Perry brings us an interview with a father/son team of IPC volunteers. (Would you want your children to work in this industry?) Finally, John Watson discusses AI, simulation and SPICE, and what they have to offer for PCB designers.

Drilling Down on Digital Twin

In this interview with I-Connect007, Phil Voglewede, director of the Omron Advanced Automation Lab at Marquette University, shares his thoughts on the evolution of digital twin concepts for manufacturing processes and how that related to his lab’s research.

From Father to Son: A Story of Generational Volunteerism

As an IPC technical staff liaison to numerous IPC standards development committees, I’m sometimes asked to extoll the virtues of what it means to be a volunteer within one of them. The question mostly comes from someone interested in joining an IPC committee for the first time. The answer usually includes phrases not uncommon to other kinds of volunteer efforts in our lives.

SummerCom 2023

Energized. Engaged. Exhausted. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when looking back on IPC SummerCom 2023 in May. We did a lot of work, had a little fun, and recognized the hard work and hours that go into standards development.

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

In 1971, David Bowie released his album “Hunky Dory.” One obscure track (at the time, at least) on that album, “Changes,” would slowly evolve into a Bowie signature piece, stutter and all. As time went on, his admonition for us all to “turn and face the strange” carried more and more weight in popular music and popular culture. Of course, a cover of “Changes” which was featured in the movie “Shrek 2” caused the song to peak again in 2004, 33 years after it was first released. Just a little reminder that change is a constant.

And Now, a Word About Sustainability With Colin Cupitt, BAE Systems

IPC Community spoke with several members of IPC’s Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council on their company’s sustainability mission, reasons for joining IPC’s Council, and future Council leadership projects.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to...Process Control', Chapter 1

In the first chapter of 'The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to...Process Control' the authors address the question: How clean is clean? There is overlap and conflict with cleaning technologies, especially with the introduction of no-clean fluxes.

Lockheed Martin: Flying High With Digital Twin

While at a conference in Dallas, Barry Matties listened to a presentation on digital twins from Don Kinard, a senior fellow at Lockheed Martin. Later, we reached out to Don, who was happy to provide a deeper understanding of the role of the digital twin in the manufacturing space. What does digital twin mean when the product your manufacture is an eight- or nine-figure combat aircraft packed full of electronics?

The Challenge of Traceability Data: A Call for Action

Imagine the following scenario: You’re working in the electronics manufacturing industry as an operations manager in charge of overseeing the assembly of cutting-edge devices. One day, you receive news that one of the series of products you’ve shipped to market has experienced a major malfunction, causing an uproar among customers. You frantically try to pinpoint the root cause only to lose yourself in the labyrinth of incomplete traceability data. The frustration mounts, leaving you grappling with the consequences of an ineffective traceability system.

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

This week, we have news about APCT’s acquisition of San Diego PCB Design, and PCBAA’s continued push to impress upon Congress the need to support electronics manufacturing in the U.S. Steve Williams breaks down the details behind Lean manufacturing, TQM and Six Sigma. Columnist Tim Haag explains how he learned to design advanced and complex PCBs. And Nolan Johnson has a great interview with Daniel Barish of Celanese, who discusses some of the company’s latest low-temperature co-fired ceramics and their advantages.

SMTA Working to Get Students Involved

With the increased reshoring of electronics manufacturing, there is a growing need and demand for engineers with electronics manufacturing experience and education. This is particularly the case as the number of engineers who are retiring is increasing. As part of the SMTA’s Student & Young Professionals (SYPs) outreach efforts to encourage more students to enter the electronics manufacturing industry, SMTA Silicon Valley (San Jose) chapter officers and volunteers provided a presentation to about 45 students on Careers in Electronics Manufacturing.

Team Players: A New Industry Leadership Council Seeks Sustainability Solutions

The work on sustainability in electronics at IPC continues and a new leadership council is one result of those efforts. In March 2023, IPC convened a Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council to offer peer review and direction to IPC. The council is a response to the industry’s requests for more attention on environmental, social, and corporate sustainability in IPC’s industry standards, education, and advocacy.

And Now, a Word About Sustainability With Stanley Merritt

IPC Community spoke with several members of IPC’s Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council on their company’s sustainability mission, reasons for joining IPC’s Council, and future Council leadership projects.

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

Holy mackerel, dear readers, you’ve been reading the good stuff this past week. I won’t need to steer you toward any of the must-read (but sometimes overlooked) content because your collective reading habits (as measured by clicks and reads) gravitated to the same things as I did. This week’s picks include an interview from IPC Community magazine on sustainability, two pieces on space travel technology, a new partnership between two well-known companies in our industry, and the July market report from IPC. Keep reading to see what I’m talking about.

Exclusive: Special Show Coverage of EWPTE

Find out how more than 3,000 members of the electrical wire and cable industry came to the Wisconsin Center and left inspired with new technologies, solutions, and a stronger network. Produced by the Wiring Harness Manufacturer’s Association (WHMA), IPC, and the Wisconsin Center, the event drew in 3,049 attendees, an 18% increase over 2022.

Book Excerpt: 'The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to...Process Control'

Introduction: The Printed Circuit Assembler’s Guide to...Process Control, a new book from Gen3 Systems. An electronic assembly, by definition, has a circuit with current flowing. If by corrosion that circuit is changed, open circuit or short circuit, then the assembly will most likely be non-functional and will have failed. Dendrites are fragile metal filaments that can easily fuse when completing a circuit. Hence, an intermittent fault is observed.

And Now, a Word About Sustainability With Markus Otrin, Zollner

IPC Community spoke with several members of IPC’s Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council on their company’s sustainability mission, reasons for joining IPC’s Council, and future Council leadership projects.

Solving the Challenge of the Workforce Pipeline: A New Resource to Careers in Electronics

An aerospace engineer walks onto the job at $72,770 and can double their salary in just a few years. In fact, careers in the electronics industry can provide a sizable salary, but exactly how much will you make? A new resource from the IPC Education Foundation breaks down the most common career paths in electronics manufacturing, from operators to owners. What jobs are available? What does someone in the electronics industry even do?

Reduce Board Skyline With Solid Cavity Design

With the increasing shrinkage of modern electronics in both board size and product volume, it’s becoming more difficult to mount components to the PCB surface and still meet volumetric requirements. To avoid chip-on-board (COB) processing, board cavities can help mitigate the Z-axis skyline volumetric issues and allow for components that would otherwise not fit within the skyline to be used.

And Now, a Word About Sustainability With Barjouth Aguilar, Flex

IPC Community spoke with several members of IPC’s Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council on their company’s sustainability mission, reason for joining IPC’s Council and future Council leadership projects.

Zero Defects’ Paul Benke: Changes Are Coming

Is Africa the new frontier? In this interview, I speak with Paul Benke, CEO of Zero Defects International, about trends in automation, the apparel industry, and perhaps a manufacturing move into one of the world’s largest continents. Will it be in our lifetimes?

Driving Without a Map: Automotive OEMs Need Exploratory Traceability

Consider the automotive industry where lives are at stake should a vehicle include a faulty chip. Automakers are bound to strict technical standards such as ISO 26262, which requires them to use state-of-the-art technology and to identify potential systemic and hardware defects during the manufacturing process. But the industry is not up to date; it’s not adopting state-of-the-art technology when it comes to chip quality and reliability.

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

This week’s must-reads follow the trend toward iterative and ongoing improvements and advancements. The must-know news this week includes coverage of SEMICON (based on reader interest), updates on the EU’s Chips Act and ongoing advocacy for the printed circuits sector, design tips from an aerospace engineer, and a PCB fabrication merger.

A Vision for Machine Learning in Optical Inspection

DarwinAI is developing machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions to improve AOI inspection results. Their work is unique because it’s generally independent of the hardware used in the EMS line. It represents, as much as possible in our industry, a pure-play solution using machine learning and AI constructs. Earlier this year, the I-Connect007 staff spoke with DarwinAI CEO Sheldon Fernandez about artificial intelligence and electronics manufacturing. In this follow-up, Sheldon discussed what AI and machine learning are, what they aren’t, and how this work fits into the manufacturing environment of today.

The IPC-CFX Train Is Approaching Your Station

That last line may not have made it into Johnny Cash’s final lyrics for “Folsom Prison Blues,” but it fits a lot better into a technical piece vs. the guy in Reno who did make it into the original lyrics. There is an IPC-CFX train building momentum. It seems like every time we turn around, we hear about more progress being made—some we can report and some we can’t—and it shows that if your company hasn’t started its own IPC-CFX journey, it’s time to book your ticket and hop on board.

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

It’s been hot in PCB design and manufacturing this week! In this wrap-up, we have an article about safeguarding electronics manufacturing workers from hazardous chemicals, and another about additive processes’ green benefits. Kelly Dack discusses how to keep your design on the road through proper tolerance management, and Joe Fjelstad explains why the next big invention is just one step away from what currently exists, the “adjacent possible.” And Dan Beaulieu, never one to shy away from a controversial topic, explains why now is the time for your sales team to do some old-fashioned, in-person sales calls.

Advancing Automation

Dr. Phil Voglewede has a professional background in manufacturing and has been at Marquette University for the past 15 years, where he’s a professor and associate chair of the mechanical engineering department. He was recently named director of Marquette’s new Omron Advanced Automation Lab. In this interview, Phil shares his vision and mission for the lab, and how Industry 4.0 automation must be approached differently than the automation boom of the 1980s and 1990s.

The Right to a Safe, Healthy Work Environment

As we enter a new decade characterized by global transparency, companies are increasingly compelled to prioritize the protection of workers, not only within their own facilities but throughout complex multi-national supply chains. Process chemicals are increasingly being viewed as a human rights issue, as millions of workers in the electronics global supply chain are using process chemicals. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on Toxics (2018) reported that there are approximately 160 million cases of occupational disease reported annually across all industry sectors.

Finding Sustainability in Additive Processes

When you think of sustainability, odds are that electronics is what comes to mind. The manufacturing process alone is riddled with processes that generate large amounts of waste and utilize volatile chemicals and compounds. Consumers dispose of their personal electronic devices, which, added to the waste from the manufacturing process, accumulates into quite a large sum. According to a report from the UN environment program, the world produces approximately 50 million tons of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) a year.

Major U.S. Holiday Today: Independence Day

Today marks the 247th Independence Day of the United States of America. Also known as the Fourth of July, this day commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, as well as the declaration by the Congress that the American colonies are free and independent states.

Joseph LaRosa: I've Never Been Interviewed Before

Meet Joseph LaRosa, a young application engineer at Omron who is passionate about robotics and automation. I recently interviewed Joseph (his first one) about his choice to work in the electronics industry and his advice for others looking for a career path. I really admire Joseph’s ambitious nature and drive to be the best at what he does. If you’re going to do it, you might as well be the best at it, he says.

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

It’s a heady time here in the U.S. between the summer holidays of Memorial Day (last Monday in May) and Independence Day (July 4). This four-week period straddles the Northern solstice, boasts the longest days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. This is the high season for outside activities, which may be pulling you away from the office. Am I right? Never fear, I-Connect007 is here to deliver the “must know” news stories.

Design Challenges: From The Assembler’s Viewpoint

Fabricators are fairly vocal about the design issues that they encounter, especially with brand-new customers. They are, after all, the next step in the process. But we don’t hear as much about design issues from EMS providers. This month, we asked experts from the PCB assembly segment to share their thoughts about design challenges that affect technologists on the EMS side.

iNEMI Develops Tools for Sustainable Electronics

Information and communications technology (ICT) products are essential to modern society and comprise a significant portion of the global economy. They also have a not-so-insignificant environmental impact because they consume large amounts of resources and energy during manufacture, use, and disposal. The short life of ICT products, coupled with increasing demand for products, worsens the scenario.

Filling Critical Traceability Gaps With AI

Traceability means being able to track the origin of any given electrical component throughout the supply chain. For OEMs, this is no longer optional or “nice to have.” Yet industrial traceability capacities are sorely lacking throughout industries. Today, the most widespread standard for traceability is “batch traceability,” which aside from tracking the production lot, serial number, and exact board placement for components, fails to analyze the individual components themselves, thus jeopardizing the quality of the goods they compose.

SMTA: A Global Association Working on a Local Level

SMTA Executive Director Tanya Martin was in Oregon for a local chapter event and stopped to provide an update on SMTA’s local events and share some of the remarkable changes happening at the organization. She’s most excited about opportunities for growth in many different areas within the organization, meeting in person for events, and moving SMTA International back to Chicago. These are all responses to member feedback and the results are worth mentioning.

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