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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.

Omron Discusses SPI, AI and More

At the recent SMTA Oregon Tech Forum and Expo, Tim Anderson, a senior account manager at Omron, shares his insights on SPI, the latest trends in the industry, and some solutions to consider. As he points out, the SPI, AOI and AXI systems of today do far more than simply catch defects.

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

June 21 marked the first official day of summer, and it’s the longest day of the year. I’m wearing by best Hawaiian shirt right now. But we’ve been too busy to hit the beach yet. There’s a lot going on in our industry right now. In this week’s Top 5, we have our coverage of the recent SMTA Oregon Expo & Tech Forum, a show that drew a good crowd of technologists.


The Role of ‘Sustainable’ Automation

Automation plays a key role in factory efficiencies by lowering cost and improving yields, all of which are good for business and sustainability. Does factory size matter? Can automation be incremental and still be effective? Jeff Forster, SMT product manager at Technica USA, shares his insight on factory automation.

MacDermid Alpha China New Electronics Application Center—Focus on High-end Manufacturing

On June 2, 2023, the MacDermid Alpha China New Electronics Application Center was launched. The facility is equipped with brand-new experimental equipment, aiming to help customers meet the stringent requirements encountered in the field of high-end electronics manufacturing. The PCB007 China online magazine interviewed Tom Hunsinger, global vice president of semiconductor assembly of MacDermid Alpha.

It’s a Team Effort: Final Episode in Sustainability Series Out Now

Available on I-007e and Spotify, Episode 6 of I-Connect007’s podcast, On the Line with… features an interview with Siemens’ Jonathan Fromm, product owner in predictive analytics, who introduces us to the “eight R’s” of sustainability. Fromm also draws parallels between the idea of thinking globally and the act of crafting holistic sustainability initiatives.

Oregon Plays Host to Popular SMTA Expo

Overseas production in Asia and technical topics highlighted SMTA’s recent Oregon Expo & Tech Forum, which featured over 20 exhibitors and a robust audience for the exhibits and classes. The event took place in Wilsonville, Oregon, home to several tech companies, including Siemens, Xerox, Rockwell Collins, and FLIR.

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

It’s always interesting to see what themes emerge from reader interest in our news coverage over the past seven days. This week, there are two: making plans and Southeast Asia. Our curated list of must-read content includes planning for the following items: new courses from IPC, a new listing on the NYSE, a new manufacturing facility for materials in Southeast Asia, brand-new inspection equipment solutions for SEMICON West, and new air traffic management systems in Indonesia.

Siemens Experts Introduce New Sustainability Podcast

In I-Connect007’s inaugural ‘On the Line with…’ podcast, we spoke with six experts in sustainability and electronics manufacturing from Siemens Digital Industries Software. After recording the episodes, we gathered to discuss the series: the content, challenges, potential solutions, and the impact on our industry. Excerpts from that roundtable conversation are transcribed here.

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

It’s summertime, but the industry is staying pretty busy. This week, we have news about our industry putting pressure on our elected officials to provide funding for U.S. companies under the CHIPS Act, and a counterfeit parts symposium presented by SMTA in Maryland next month. We also bring you articles about ultra HDI design and material selection, and our most recent On the Line with… podcast with Zac Elliott of Siemens.

The Mindset Behind the Customer Experience

Brian Wallace, CEO/consultant with HR Strategies Now in Houston, Texas, shares a couple of thoughts on the importance of understanding the connection between customer experience and the employees’ mindset.

Slash Sheets: Don’t Fall Into the Trap

Slash sheets can be confusing, and this is a big topic, so let’s start big and drill down from there. Here’s the big picture regarding slash sheet references: They were designed to provide handy groupings of PCB materials (laminates, polyimides, etc.) that go into a stackup. These groupings are designed around mechanical characteristics to provide insight for PCB fabricators to identify similar laminates with similar properties.

Why Does Sustainability Matter?

In a recent conversation with Kelly Scanlon, IPC lead sustainability strategist, we dove deep into the topic of sustainability, asking what it is and how we achieve it. Because this is such a broad topic, we’ve excerpted just a portion of the conversation here, but what is clear is that we’ve only scratched the surface on sustainability; there is so much that is not yet fully defined.


Sustainably Clean

As the definition of sustainably evolves in the industry, one thing is clear: Process control plays a large role in any definition. Creating a stable process reduces the potential overuse of cleaning materials and increases yields, thereby reducing scrap, and helping the sustainability effort. I recently talked with Tom Forsythe, executive vice president of KYZEN, about the cleaning process and automated bath control.

Carol Handwerker Appointed to NIST Advisory Committee

We often hear words and phrases that naturally go together: Salt and pepper, touch and go, trace and space. When it comes to the work of IPC member Carol Handwerker, however, the collocations are much more nuanced, deeper, and have greater significance. You’re more likely to think of phrases such as standards and technology, lead-free and solder, or advanced packaging and heterogeneous integration. These are just some examples of Carol’s lifelong work in materials engineering, involvement with governing bodies, and a forward-thinking approach to electronics manufacturing that has spanned more than three decades.

Sustainability in Logistics Discussion Continues

Episode 5 of I-Connect007’s podcast, On the Line with… features an interview with Zac Elliot, Siemens technical marketing engineer, who discusses sustainability in logistics internal to the factory. Listeners will hear how ineffective logistics create wasted effort in the form of ineffective materials transfers, or increasing line down-time when materials are not flowing to the line properly.

The Most Important Thing About Customer Service

In this short interview, Barry Matties speaks with Marge Laney, founder and CEO of Alert Tech SMT, about the importance of this one simple tool in effective customer service: communication.

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

This week has been both speedy and newsy. Of course, those two characteristics often seem to travel as a pair, don’t they? A four-day week here in the United States, accompanied by a wave of high-impact news from a wide variety of sources, would suggest that readers could be expected to spread out all over the news map. Not so much, judging from readership numbers; folks all found their highest value in the same type of news coverage. This week's list of must-reads is dominated by market reports as a result of that focused readership. On our list, we have PCB fabrication and EMS book-to-bill reports, a 10-year market forecast report, and a supply chain sentiment report. In addition, readers flocked to the EWPTE show coverage. Finally, we saw significant reader interest in the most recent podcast on sustainability in our logistical operations.

Training for New Hires

Since training is such a key component in converting an inexperienced new hire into a valued contributor on the manufacturing floor, we asked Brenda Clunie, vice president of sales and operations at EPTAC, exactly how their certification programs deliver on this promise for new hires.

Sustainability in Logistics: Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

Episode 4 of I-Connect007’s new podcast, On the Line with… features an interview with Christian Wendt, marketing and communications department head at Siemens Digital Logistics. Wendt discusses the most obvious area of concern for logistics sustainability: reduction of the carbon footprint.

EWPTE 2023: A Review by Happy Holden

While IPC was hosting its annual SummerCom mid-year standards event, WHMA was hosting its own “wire show,” co-located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During IPC SummerCom 2023 more than 90 meetings from May 13–18 were conducted, ranging from very small to very large groups. Some meetings only lasted an hour, while others were four to eight hours. WHMA is a much smaller technical association than IPC, but it provides the connectivity between our boards, assemblies, and the myriad sensors and actuators used in modern electrical and electronic systems. Wire is the principal conduit, but the variety and complexity of these configurations seem endless.

Memorial Day: A Time for Remembrance

Today is the Memorial Day federal holiday in the United States. Observed on the last Monday in May, the day is set aside to honor and mourn U.S. military personnel who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. The holiday’s roots trace back to remembrance of the soldiers on both sides of the U.S. Civil War.

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

It’s been a busy week here at I-Connect007, an even busier week for PCB designers and manufacturers. This week, we published a variety of articles and news items. In this week’s wrap-up, we have an interview with Rex Rozario that is basically a historical look at the birth of commercial PCB manufacturing, and his involvement with the Rolling Stones in their early days. Then we bring you a look at trends in freight costs, which are—fortunately—heading southward right now.


Knowledge: At the Heart of Great Customer Service

David Thomas, master IPC trainer at EPTAC, says that the more you understand the work and technology that go into your processes and products, the better you can serve your customers. That includes knowing the basics.

Stop Over-specifying Your Materials

Columnist Kelly Dack has had a pretty wide range of experiences. As a PCB designer, he has sat behind the desk at an NPI company, an OEM, a fabricator, and now an EMS provider. We asked him to share a few thoughts on the materials selection process and how it could be improved.

Akrometrix: Masters of Metrology

At the Atlanta SMTA Expo and Tech Forum, I met Neil Hubble, president of the metrology systems provider Akrometrix. If you’re not sure exactly what metrology entails, you’re in luck. In this interview, Neil explains why metrology is becoming a critical part of PCB manufacturing. We also discuss the company’s capital equipment, testing services, and why Akrometrix counts many of the top PCB and semiconductor manufacturing companies in the world as their customers.

Eye on the Ion

During the recent SMTA Houston Expo & Tech Forum, I had the good fortune to meet and interview Joey Sanchez, senior director of ecosystems at The Ion, a 300,000-square-foot space in the renovated historical Sears building in the city’s Midtown section. Opened in 2021, The Ion is part of the 16-acre (12 city blocks) Ion Innovation District, which is currently under development. The facility is owned and managed by Rice University.

Mark Laing Talks ‘Sustainability in Manufacturing’

Now available on Spotify, Episode 3 of I-Connect007’s new podcast, On the Line with… features an interview with Mark Laing, business development manager for digital industries software at Siemens. Laing discusses the role of electronics in achieving sustainability. Not only does the electronics industry have a primary role to play here, but it also contributes by creating products which enable other industries to monitor and optimize their sustainability practices.

Shopping for a Soldering Robot

During factory visits, I've witnessed what’s happened to our workforce after the pandemic. Sometimes it looks like operator separation for social distancing, working extra shifts to cover for lost or missing employees due to illness, workers who now work from home, or they have simply found working no longer suits them. One possible solution when you can’t hire skilled technicians is to look at automation, particularly automation for soldering. For many it was a “feature piece” for the obligatory factory tour just to demonstrate to potential customers they are forward thinking. Now it’s a reality to solve a true workforce shortage issue. But why use a robotic soldering system?

Watch ‘Smarter Manufacturing Through Inspection,’ Final Episode of Smarter Manufacturing Micro Webinar Series

Episode 12, “Smarter Manufacturing through Inspection,” from Koh Young’s new micro webinar series ‘Smarter Manufacturing Enabled with Inspection Data’ is available now.

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

This week, our must-reads include reporting on the new PCB support legislation, now submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives; financial results from two Tier 1 manufacturers, which readers read quite thoroughly; ESG in Asia Pacific; new features from Altium; global sourcing; and a “How I got here” interview with an up and coming industry expert.

Workforce Development and a Networking Mindset

Is effective networking a skill or a mindset? I can remember the anxiety I felt around my first few networking events in the electronics industry when my skills weren’t as honed as they are now. I wondered, “How will I remember everyone’s names? Will I be nervous to approach strangers and start a conversation? What will we talk about?” It was always a highly stressful situation for me, and I bet many of you can relate to this.

Blackfox Shares Tips for Successful Skills Training

Successful skills training is a crucial part of the onboarding process and can take experienced staff members away from their primary jobs on the manufacturing floor. Effective training to onboard new employees can not only speed up the ramp-up times, but can also be customized to a company’s specific needs. We posed these four questions about new hire training to Sharon Montana-Beard, vice president of sales and operations at Blackfox.


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