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26 SMT Magazine • September 2016 ert conditions, space, and pretty much everything else. With the miniaturiza- tion of electronics nowa- days, it is definitely a chal- lenge to provide the perfect product in an optimized space without compromis- ing on the thermal man- agement systems. More of a design concern yet it can definitely have a huge im- pact on how hard it is to assemble a given product. Las Marias: From your per- spective, what are the great- est challenges that your cus- tomers face? Yanez: Reliability and time to market. A lot of peers in the industry see the mil/aero industry as a headache because of very long gestation pe- riods. Have you seen the time needed to fully manufacture and assemble an airplane? You can count on delays to be there. But the outcome is often very positive both in terms of experience and in terms of business. Reliability is a must. And of course every- body will say that reliability is a must for any type of customer no matter which industry they play in, but in my opinion, mil/aero presents a higher level of requirements on that matter and therefore more resources in place to sustain this level of performance. Las Marias: How does Asteelflash help customers address those challenges? Yanez: Speedy time to market is one of our core strengths. Our ultimate objective is to make sure our customers are able to tackle the growth they expect with our support on overachieving on delivery dates, reactivity on design changes and proactivity on process improvements. Having a seasoned EMS partner is critical in the aero- space market. The certifications are one thing. The flexibility on the floor is another, one we are proud to put forward on a daily basis. Las Marias: Are lead- free components still caus- ing problems in the supply chain? Yanez: I think it is safe to say that it was a challenge a few years back especially in the transition phase from leaded to lead-free compo- nents without compromis- ing on the reliability of the products. Again, related to the challenges of field re- liability and resistance to extreme conditions, the military/aerospace prod- ucts require a level of re- liability of more than 20 years, very different from the consumer elec- tronics segment for instance. Lots of research- es and tests have been conducted and specific groups and associations—such as the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), the Avionics Main- tenance Conference (AMC) or the Government Electronics and Information Technology Asso- ciation (GEIA)—took leader-ship in making this transition easier and efficient. Some research- ers even concluded that lead-free components and assemblies could provide better levels of re- liability to a certain extent. Las Marias: Your company is compliant with ITAR. What are the greatest challenges with ITAR? Yanez: Our facility in Raleigh-Morrisville, North Carolina, is ITAR certified. Given the number of years of compliance and certifica- tion, it is no longer a challenge but has actually become a routine to sustain that level of com- pliance. Resources in place and integration of the ITAR restrictions into our business model were definitely a challenge in the early days but they've been overcome for several years now by maintaining discipline and keeping each and any of our employees focused and vigilant to the rules. Las Marias: According to our survey, ongoing compliance with ITAR is a challenge. Do you agree? ASTEELFLASH ON MIL/AERO CHALLENGES, ITAR COMPLIANCE, AND OPPORTUNITIES Albert Yanez

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