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Features Articles

Susan Mucha

With travel frozen, rethink and repurpose those marketing dollars.

By making face-to-face sales calls impossible, Covid-19 is challenging electronics manufacturing services (EMS) salespeople to work in new ways. Sadly, that challenge isn’t likely to go away soon. On the bright side, it opens the door to a more productive, less costly sales and OEM relationship, provided salespeople modify their approach.

In the normal flow of EMS selling, there is typically a lead follow-up phase that results in a face-to-face sales call. There may be an additional meeting to present a quotation, depending on the distance between the salesperson and decision-maker. There is also usually a plant tour. When all these activities are local, costs drop to the amount of time the individuals spend on the activity. However, the cost of a sales call that involves business travel may be $1,000 to $2,000, depending on mode of travel and how many sales calls are clustered into that trip.

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Clive Ashmore

Multitasking platforms are becoming the standard.

While productivity – manufacturing more product, more efficiently in less time – has been center stage in electronics assembly for decades, today’s razor-thin margins, coupled with the requirement for limited human intervention, have put an exclamation point on managing output proficiency. (This is especially true as the world restricts building access and maintains safe personal distances.) An optimized stencil printing process, as I’ve said many times, comes down to depositing the right volume in the right place at the right time. These are the three pillars of the print operation. Ultimately, for maximum productivity, a manufacturing operation needs a stencil printer that is always available and, when it is available, efficient and reliable.

It wasn’t long ago the bottleneck on the production line was usually the placement machine, so the stencil printer was generally available and had plenty of time to run the print routine. With recent modular approaches to manufacturing line setups, however, this is no longer the case. Placement platforms have exponentially improved speed. The printer now must maintain a much faster pace; this starts with mechanics and cycle time. In mass production settings, getting a printer down to a core cycle time of five seconds has become a necessity.

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With no standard in sight, emerging alloys require unique fluxes and processes.

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Bob Willis

Soldering in nitrogen or vapor phase environments can increase the likelihood.

Subtle component lifting can be an issue to find during inspection. Most modern AOI systems should be able to detect drawbridging on small passive and active parts. Old systems may struggle with defects like the two shown in FIGURE 1.

 

 

 

 

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Peter Bigelow

We must retain our new agility even after the pandemic ends.  

Nothing makes you flexible like a crisis. Yet, as rough as it can be for a person to quickly shift gears, it is significantly more daunting for a corporation to do so.

The entirety of my working career, the mantra of any good business consultant or culture guru has been be flexible and embrace change. Whether an organization is implementing a TQM (total quality management) plan or struggling with financial survival because “plan A” no longer works, embracing flexibility and rapid change is never easy – and often unsuccessful. The larger the organization, the harder it can be. Embracing change and becoming flexible often only occurs when no other option remains, or in short, extinction awaits.

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Mike Buetow

Some 13 years ago, UP Media Group launched the first virtual trade show for the electronics industry. In some ways – most, probably – we were ahead of the times. People liked it because it was simple to attend, but the platform wasn’t ready for prime time.

That’s not to say it was technically subpar. You could pop in and out of booths and talk to the personnel waiting for you, and I still feel for those folks who, driven by caffeine and excitement (or just an affinity for self-abuse), kept vigil around the clock as attendees in different time zones came on line and into the show. And we held webinars and chats with high-profile experts like Dr. Eric Bogatin. But in the end, attendees seemed to prefer meeting with peers face to face.

Covid-19 is injecting itself into almost every facet of our work and home lives, however, and we have to make some concessions to the times. As such, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to make PCB West a virtual event this year. The call was made following a survey of past attendees and talks with our more than 100 exhibitors.

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