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44 SMT Magazine • October 2014 So I think it is a tremendous opportunity for anybody who is in the electronics manufactur- ing industry to see continued, bright opportu- nities going forward. RA: From a manufacturing standpoint, what are the challenges being faced by com- panies? JD: The challenges are not different per se; they just continue to be refined and they con- tinue to extend the trend that's been going on for a number of years. One of the biggest chal- lenges is the short product lifecycles—the rapid ramps. What we see today in certain segment of the electronics industry is the very short product lives. One-year, two-year product lives. What's a little bit different is the model now where the maximum volume happens during product launch, and then there's kind of a long- term decay from there. It used to be the traditional product ramp where you have an exponential curve that starts low and builds up. Today, the way certain sec- tors of our business operate, the highest volume is day one, when you launch the product, and then over the next one to two years, it is a kind of steady decay for that product because it's ma- tured. So it's kind of almost a reverse curve. That puts tremendous stress on the infrastructure of the organization and the process development, the quality levels, and the yields. RA: Definitely there is always room for im- provement when it comes to electronics manu- facturing and assembly. From your perspective, how could the assembly process be improved? JD: In terms of the circuit board assembly itself, I think we've done a great job as an in- dustry over the past couple of decades to really build out a standardized set of tools, peripher- als, meters and design rules, and toolsets that allow us to bring a new circuit board up in a very short amount of time, with a very high lev- el of quality, and high degree of predictability. I think that's fantastic. That has not spilled over into the rest of the product design yet. One of the things we see over and over again is a gap between the product designers and the manu- facturing/engineering people. Tolerance stack- ups are typically not buildable in the first ver- sions of design we get. So you just kind of go through the math and say the yield is going to be this low because the tolerance just doesn't support it. So, I think that's one of the areas where we can certainly integrate more the designers with the manufacturing/engineering people. The second thing is that we are going through a period of high flux, or just high rate of change. For example, think about the way devices are being slotted together; it used to be a handful of pretty traditional ways—screw it together, snap-fit it together, glue it together. But today, especially as things become smaller, there's this theory of rapid rate of change going on, it's really glues— adhesives—that are becoming more preferred method to put things to- gether. These adhesives have certain strength characteristics, certain wa- ter-resistance characteristics, some- times certain electrical conductivity characteristics, ability to disassem- ble/reassemble, and so every day we are seeing products with new adhe- sives with different characteristics that really go through a period of process development to get the for- mulation right, to produce in vol- ume and in the quality and yield. FLeXibLe manuFacturing continues ArTiCLE

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