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8 SMT007 MAGAZINE I JUNE 2019 Nolan's Notes by Nolan Johnson, I-CONNECT007 Streamlining, but Streamlining What? Streamline, verb. 1. The path of a particle that is flowing steadily and without turbulence in a fluid past an object, 2. To make (an organiza- tion or system) more efficient and effective by employing faster or simpler working methods. Electronics continue to grow in application areas, capabilities, and complexities. With such growth in the raw number of circuit boards being produced globally, the pressure is on to build more faster with higher qual- ity and greater reliability. But I'm not telling you anything new. What is new is the thinking and problem-solving that will need to happen at the manufacturing floor level to deliver on this coming need. What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example. In our ongoing coverage of 5G technol- ogy—and in other reports coming out of real- world experiences with 5G—it's clear the world will need a bunch (technical term) of 5G trans- ceiver hardware. The traditional hexagonal cov- erage areas mapped out by previous-gener- ation cell networks simply won't work as 5G won't penetrate windows and walls. 5G is like Usain Bolt—the fastest ever seen, but only over short distances. But don't try to send it very far because the signal just won't make it there. This translates to a vast quantity of "sprint" hard - ware filling in what used to be covered by a sin- gle "marathon-runner" cell tower. Somebody's going to have to build all of that hardware. And you can bet that forecasts and build schedules will shift forward and backward with regularity. Do we really think that we can speed up exist- ing processes? Will faster workers or a new line with more throughput be enough to grow with the increased demand? Or does this new market require thinking about the capacity prob - lem in a completely new way? Our investigation into streamlining assembly reminded us of the ele- phant in the room: facil- ity downtime. Time and again, the point made by experts was that the easy solution isn't to auto - mate a single thing on the floor. Instead, the easiest solution is simply to reduce factory down -

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