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78 SMT Magazine • May 2014 feATuRe The Future of Test by Richard ayes I-ConneCT007 In an interview with I-Connect007, editor Richard Ayes, and Steve Brown, vice president of quality and engineering for SMTC Corp., dis- cuss the issues surrounding testing and inspec- tion of electronics assemblies—from technolo- gies and challenges, to cost—from the perspec- tive of an EMS company. Brown also sounds off on the future of the EMS industry. Here is an excerpt of that interview: When it comes to SMT assembly inspection and testing, what are the biggest challenges being faced by a company like SMTC? The primary SMT inspection and test chal- lenges can be grouped into three major catego- ries: design, process and cost. Design ultimately dictates the access and coverage that can be achieved, whereas the technology drives the type of test that can be applied. Process can dictate the number of op- portunities for error where increased manual operations can drive increased inspection and test to maintain quality, whereas a more auto- mated solution provides a lower defect per mil- lion opportunity output. Cost is always a challenge. Some customers perceive test as a cost rather than a value driver. A cost-effective test/inspection strategy is fluid during the product lifecycle and can change significantly given volumes, product price chal- lenges and value associated with test/inspec- tion. At SMTC, we look at the entire test chain from PCBA all the way through to the product level functional test when developing a test strategy. SMT assembly inspection and testing is an important part of any test plan as it iden-

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