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38 SMT Magazine • February 2017 Paperless Work Shops Many modern EMS shop floor systems are now paperless, where all the work instructions and routing steps are online. Most are forced routing processes, where you have to scan the product in and out of the work cells. It's also how quality and test data is collected with pull down menus and all the reference designations of components, that feeds all the real-time data being provided to the work cells and customers. The Demand for Smaller Technology One recent trend, especially in the defense industry, is a focus on man-portable electron- ics. Everything is shrinking, which affects the size of products and the footprint available to place the components in, so any new technol- ogy investments going forward must be geared towards smaller technology , with reliability in mind. Since everything is getting smaller, we're having to place .01005 components on some products now. Technology like wearable elec- tronics, vision goggles, and wearable medi- cal devices, among others, are driving smaller and smaller platforms, which means electron- ics manufacturing services have to be more dili- gent, with profiling of thermal properties of the product recipes and equipment that can handle and verify the smaller scale components. Using smaller components has really driv- en the industry to be more focused on the up- front quality of the paste, the placement accu- racy, and the verification of those components. Real Time Results Customers now want to be more involved in monitoring the process and are demanding more feedback and analysis. They want to be able to see real-time results as the product is go- ing through the process. Customers also want to see real-time feed- back on yields and test data, so they can see how their products are performing in reference to the specifications. Customers are paying much more attention to analysis in engineering to- wards process capabilities and where their prod- ucts fall in line with those process capabilities. To meet this demand, most EMS companies are now providing customers with capabilities of their test systems talking back to them di- rectly or indirectly or being able to provide out- lets to them through their test systems and on- line shop floor systems. Reports can be set up to pull yields off the floor and send them via e- mail directly to customers, which gives them all the pareto analysis of their products, the yields, any defective components, and the EMS part- ner's actions taken to correct any problems. In contrast, the old way of doing things included monthly or weekly data reports that summa- rized the EMS firm's observations. Customers enjoy that kind of open commu- nication. They gain confidence in knowing that if a problem arises, they will be notified. It's an- other way to provide transparency to customers. Adaptability to Change Rapid adaptability to new technology and capability is a must in today's EMS environ- ment. The days of hundreds of mom and pop EMS companies are gone. Now, most EMS pro- viders are top rated and competing aggressive- ly for customers. So getting the new technology and becoming knowledgeable of that technolo- gy is a must. Being able to continually improve processes to be more efficient and show custom- ers the added value you can provide through quick turnover capabilities and flexibility is the only way to survive. SMT Thom Hansen is the director of operations at MC Assembly— Boston. WHAT'S DRIVING THE RAPIDLY CHANGING ELECTRONICS ASSEMBLY INDUSTRY " Since everything is getting smaller, we're having to place .01005 components on some products now. "

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