SMT007 Magazine

SMT-May2018

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26 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2018 ever-more diverse functionality. The mobile communications industry adds the needs of portable devices that are water-proof and drop- proof—accommodations that complicate the assembly of these devices and will continue to do so. And fixed infrastructure needs to tolerate weather, temperature change, light- ning, and even vandalism. The electro-mechanical design of these devices means ever- more complex and demanding assembly processes. Another key demand that 5G will drive is much heavier use of wireless communica- tions in the transportation and industrial businesses. Costs, regulations, and reliability all mean demands on manufac- turing technologies with the relentless pressure on cost. One other element that 5G will bring into mainstream regards millimeter-wave frequencies, which mean very different electromechanical designs—active antenna array systems, disaggregation of the radio and the antenna (e.g., in automobiles), etc. The assembly industry will be expected to keep up with these new ideas and improve the quality of the process. Las Marias: From your perspective as a test and measurement systems provider, what electron- ics manufacturing/assembly challenges do you foresee facing your customers when it comes to 5G? Nichols: Answering this would make a pretty long list but I can call out one specific example we see often. The advent of millimeter-wave in mainstream electronics means that manufac- turers, in some cases, are insisting that these radios be tested in the manufacturing process. But the state of the art is such that these measurements must be made not only within chambers that are shielded, but also anechoic, and, in some cases, temperature-controlled. All these technologies are not new to the industry, but what is new is the aspect of applying them all to a relatively high-volume manufacturing process. This adds the complexity of making an accurate measurement, quickly, over-the- air (no galvanic connections), and moving the device-under-test (DUT) in and out of the chamber in an efficient manner. This also implies a robust repetitive controlled environ- ment with minimal down-time and the flexibility to change the DUT form-factor. Las Marias: How are you help- ing your customers address these challenges? Nichols: We are very excited about the opportunity to flex our muscles as a solu- tions-provider. This means going beyond the electronic measurement. We are work- ing closely with our custom- ers, bringing in our own exper- tise, even from the teams who design our own manufacturing processes, and partnering with an impressive group of companies to present a comprehensive set of solutions. Sometimes, this has put us out of our comfort zone, but we have learned a lot and been able to present some truly innovative thinking to our custom- ers. This also means empowering these solu- tions with our PathWave framework to help our customers plan their automated manufac- turing test processes, manage the information generated, and even manage the test assets themselves within a common platform. Las Marias: In our discussions with electron- ics manufacturers, they say functional testing is one of the critical issues when it comes to electronics assembly of 5G devices/systems. What are your thoughts? Nichols: The industry must manage both para- metric measurements and functional test. I do not see a future in which both are not required. But regarding this functional test need, my comments above relate to one other relentless trend in electronics and that is ever increasing Roger Nichols

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