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A new layout marries staff resources to immediate demand.

In the fourth quarter 2019, the team at Milwaukee Electronics’ headquarters began looking at ways to improve throughput by eliminating customer-focused cells and enhancing worker responsibilities. The goal was to make it easier to shift cross-trained employees among work cells to support variances in demand.

The electronics manufacturing services (EMS) facility was divided into five areas, each headed by a supervisor with direct responsibility for the team in that area. This put resource allocation in the hands of the people who work with those resources. Instead of dedicating space and team members to specific customers, each supervisor now has the flexibility to move their team around based on that day’s demand. They can also request additional training for any team member if they feel additional skills are necessary. Additionally, one supervisor was assigned as an assistant to the production manager. A production manager has finite bandwidth. The assignment of a roving supervisor to address day-to-day challenges helps ensure tactical issues don’t sidetrack the production manager from focusing on more strategic issues.

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What the electronics industry must do to change that.

Ed.: This is the seventh of an occasional series by the authors of the 2019 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the roadmap, available from iNEMI (inemi.org/2019-roadmap-overview).

To realize the benefits and potential of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) or move toward Industry 4.0, the industry must overcome several challenges ranging from securing the factory equipment used to produce secure IoT-ready products to defining the cobotic dialogue so collaboration between humans and machines can be used to drive innovation, while providing efficiencies with minimal workforce displacement in this industry and those of its customers.

Aside from technical issues, ethical, geopolitical, economic and regulatory issues may affect the current and future state of the industry.

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A holistic view of 77GHz radar sensors as a PCBA build, considering fabrication, assembly and packaging materials.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and US Department of Transportation classify levels of vehicle autonomy from 0 to 5. Level 0 incorporates no automation; levels 1-3 have varying degrees of partial assistance to the driver, where the automobile, for example, can control steering, acceleration and deceleration, and even interfere with the driver. Finally, in full autonomy, level 5, the car drives on its own and makes all decisions and reactions to its surroundings.1

The automotive market uses a combination of sensors to make these critical decisions. Radar designs are the fastest growing sensors in ADAS today, due to the longer-range capabilities and their resistance to all weather conditions.2 This research will focus on radar designs, specifically long-range 77GHz radar, to showcase how automotive materials are changing and, through the choice of alternatives to those conventionally used in the space, how product life and reliability can be enhanced.

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Flexible hybrid electronics promises to combine the functionality of conventional rigid electronics with the flexibility of printed electronics. A prototypical FHE circuit, in which an integrated circuit is combined with multiple other elements, includes, for example, printed sensors, an antenna, a thin-film battery and even thin-film PV. Not all components need to be included, or even printed, for a circuit to count as FHE, but they must include as a minimum both printed and placed functionality.

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SiP, MCP and DDR5 support faster speeds and higher power requirements.

Ed.: This is the sixth of an occasional series by the authors of the 2019 iNEMI Roadmap. This information is excerpted from the roadmap, available from iNEMI (inemi.org/2019-roadmap-overview).

New high-end computing system technologies becoming available for such applications as servers, telecom and the cloud must meet bandwidth, power, thermal and environmental challenges. Advanced packaging technologies that can drive integration and increase functionality, at acceptable cost and risk levels, will be key enablers for the sector.

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The largest players in contract assembly toughed out last year. This one might be worse.

No matter what happened in 2019, it will be remembered as the end of a bull run. On financial charts, it will look 2001 and 2006, the last spike before the ensuing crash. As it now stands, it will take a significant surge over the rest of 2020 to make the year look respectable compared to the past several. Thanks, coronavirus.

As we roll out the CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY Top 50 EMS Companies list, we chronicle the past calendar year, where M&A activity rose, and many manufacturers spoke of tightening their profit belts.

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