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8 SMT Magazine • February 2017 by Stephen Las Marias I-CONNECT007 Survey Says: New Technology! Rising manufacturing costs, OEM price pres- sures, shorter product lifecycles, fiercer com- petition, and continuously changing custom- er demand are the new normal that electronics manufacturers face in the current manufactur- ing landscape. There's also the continuing evo- lution in electronics design and increasing com- plexity, brought on by the expanding function- alities being packed in more and more compact systems and assemblies. To become successful, these challenges re- quire electronics assemblers to become more diligent in maintaining flexible production ca- pabilities and advanced, if not leading edge, manufacturing systems and equipment. Manu- facturing is undergoing what the industry con- siders as the fourth industrial revolution. With Industry 4.0, we are entering an era where we see new technologies and techniques transforming the look, systems and processes of what we con- sider as a modern factory. Automation, IoT, an- alytics, and robotics, to name a few, are among the advances and strategies that electronics as- semblers must embrace to improve their man- ufacturing performance, lower labor costs and create smarter factories. Indeed, electronics manufacturers are be- ginning to consider investing in new systems to take their processes to the next level. In our re- cent survey on the topic of new technology, the top reasons cited by manufacturers to invest in new technologies are to increase efficiency, im- prove yield, reduce cycle time, and to advance capability of the process. Adopting new technologies involves a heavy capital investment, but surprisingly, the major- ity of the respondents in our recent survey con- sidered the capabilities of these systems as the most important factor when buying new equip- ment for their factories. Respondents indicate they are more interest- ed in quality, and whether the systems meet their needs, including one who commented, "I do not want to pay for features I do not need. Price is the second factor in determining what I buy." Meanwhile, one survey question asked about technology at upcoming shows. Test and inspection equipment tops the list, followed by automation systems, and solder materials/ equipment. This month's issue of SMT Magazine high- lights some of the latest technologies and trends that are impacting the electronics assembly industry. In my interview with Met- cal's Robert Rousch, we look at their patented hand-soldering technology, which they will unveil at this year's IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, California. Columnist Rich Heimsch explores the great promise of Industry 4.0 when it comes to productivity, and how it is changing the rules of the game for manufacturing. In my interview with Tom Hunsinger of Alpha Assembly Solutions, he describes the lat- E DITOR'S NOTE

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