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82 SMT Magazine • November 2017 by Stephen Las Marias I-CONNECT007 At the recent NEPCON South China event in Shenzhen, I inter- viewed Dr. Ranko Vujosevic, CEO and CTO of Optimal Electronics, to learn more about the latest tech- nology developments at his com- pany, and his plans to sustain growth. W e also talked about his presentation on lights-out electronics assembly, the technologies that would support this vision, and the ultimate goal of Industry 4.0. Stephen Las Marias: Dr. Vujosevic, please tell us more about Optimal Electronics and your role in the company. Dr. Ranko Vujosevic: I founded the company in 1996. I worked as a research scientist at the Uni- versity of Iowa, and I wanted to have my own company to develop software in one of the in- dustrial engineering areas. Around that time, I was approached by Rockwell Collins plant in Ce- dar Rapids, Iowa, to design a production sched- uling software for their new SMT lines. They funded my development, and then I decided to dedicate all activities towards electronics as- sembly, and that's how we started it. We market ourselves as a provider of smart software solu- tions for electronics assembly, not only manu- facturing execution systems (MES), because we provide more than what a typical MES provides, including dynamic production scheduling and machine optimization. Recently, we became in- volved in Industry 4.0 and smart factory solu- tions, robotics, and artificial intelligence. We are now located in Austin, Texas. In 2003, Flex- tronics and National Instruments plants in Aus- tin bought our software and instead of traveling often away from my family, I just moved the company to Austin. Las Marias: What are your plans for the China market? Vujosevic: Our plan for this year was to expand our markets by establishing distribution chan- nels in Europe, China, and South East Asia. We had been focusing mostly on the United States and Mexico, with some Asian customers—but only American companies with plants in Asia. We already signed a distribution agreement for Europe, and we expect to sign agreements for China and South East Asia in October. China expansion is very important for us, and we are working very hard to establish our pres- ence in China and provide local sales and sup- port within a few months. I came here to pres- ent my paper and to meet several companies for INTERVIEW Optimal Electronics Sets Sight on Growth Dr. Ranko Vujosevic

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