PCB007 Magazine


Issue link: https://iconnect007.uberflip.com/i/1185676

Contents of this Issue


Page 81 of 113

82 PCB007 MAGAZINE I NOVEMBER 2019 age and the ability to perform and produce products under the current and projected de- mand models. Are the equipment and technol- ogy evolving as fast or faster than the product being developed? Komatsu-san continued by stating a strong point in the Asian markets has been in the au- tomobile industry. The push for electric and self-driving cars has put a tremendous boost in the camera and sensors markets. Much of this market has been lost in North America due to the mechanization and automation of this manufacturing sector, including inspection and test. As this technology is definitely go- ing to move forward and evolve, the need for higher-precision flying probers and four-wire Kelvin equipment is going to increase. The Americas and Europe feel the same squeeze. Margins are disappearing with the technology, and challenges are increasing. Standard fixture testers of the '80s through the 2000s are basically obsolete. The density, pad size, and spacing of today's designs make that era of fixture technology cost-prohibitive to maintain any favorable margin. Fixture tes- ters to compete with this technology need to be quad and octal density and preferably au- tomated. Labor burden, plus the tooling cost of fixtures for this type of equipment, require automation and large volume to be effective. We do not see this in the Americas. Therefore, flying probe technology is the solution for the prototype and mid-volume markets. Reducing dedicated tooling costs and labor burden and implementing automation are the three build- ing blocks to success. However, with these guidelines, new chal- lenges remain. Flying probe testing is not ac- cepted in all manufacturing scenarios. Some military, medical, and aerospace contractors still shy away from the use of flying probes; these are the high-reliability markets and may still require fixture testers, as they provide the true parametric test. But these designs also follow today's development curve and are complex. With most of the North Ameri- can fixture testers limited to double-density grids, the requirement of multipass fixtures materializes. Now, tooling and testing costs rise without the proper feedback to the sales/ marketing teams, which results in diminished margins. And we all know the effects of long- term margin loss. I have seen that the Asian, American, and European markets all feel challenges. We may thrive in separate markets/niches, but the over- all challenges are the same: labor, equipment, and margins. The larger challenges in North America are the ability to stay ahead of the manufacturing curve. Effective equipment and automation to handle the new designs of today and tomorrow are key. For Asia, it's labor and margins. Automation is mandatory with the volumes found in the Asian markets. Automat- ed fixture testers in octo-density configurations run 24/7, whereas none of this technology is used in the Americas. As volumes increase in the North Ameri- can markets due to regulations or OEM pref- erence, the flying probe will be overwhelmed at some point. We will see a time where this precision fixture technology will be required in the Americas to compete and maintain mar- gins. And as Komatsu-san commented earlier, the trade frictions are apparent now. If they in- crease, the Asian markets may become less vi- able for volume manufacturing, and the push will be back to the Americas. Remember to go to bed hungry, my friends; the hunt begins early. PCB007 Todd Kolmodin is VP of quality for Gardien Services USA and an expert in electrical test and reliability issues. To read past columns or contact Kolmodin, click here. The push for electric and self-driving cars has put a tremendous boost in the camera and sensors markets.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of PCB007 Magazine - PCB007-Nov2019