Weiner’s World


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Editor’s note: This blog was originally published in October 2016 at www.weiner-intl.com  and is being reprinted here with special permission from the author. 

Continental Automotive's Technical Manager Mike Mayer will be one of the featured speakers at the IPC's Executive Forum for fabricators and their supply chain in San Diego on February 13, 2017! 

This year’s TPCA (Taiwan Printed Circuits Association) show held October 26–28 seemed to have lighter attendance than last year. Robots were on display everywhere with lot of loaders and unloaders as well as the multi-axis, multipurpose types. Equipment sales surged up the past 30 days with orders from companies that subcontract to Apple, Huawei, and others. This was attributed to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 problems and the resulting recall and exchange program. We'll provide any added interesting information as we speak to several attendees during the next few weeks. 

IDC Manufacturing Insights' latest report titled “Robotics in China Industry” states that the adoption rate of robotics in China's manufacturing industries will grow by 150% by 2018. This research is published under IDC’s Manufacturing Insights’ worldwide commercial robotics program. “The rise of robots in China can be attributed to three pull and push factors, respectively," said Dr. Jing Bing Zhang, research director, Worldwide Robotics and Asia Pacific Manufacturing Insights, IDC Asia/Pacific. "The three pull-factors are the rising labor cost, increasingly aging population, and global competition, whereas the push-factors are national initiatives, innovation, and investment in robotics."

Engineering-oriented value chain (EOVC) companies are currently the largest adopters of robotics in China, primarily due to the complexity of the products and manufacturing processes used.

I wish that I had thought of this decades ago. Apparently, someone has finally decided to do something about solving the adage, “When all else fails, follow the data sheet!”

Analog Devices and Mouser are cosponsoring a free webinar titled “How to Read a Data Sheet,” November 9 at 12:00 PM ET. This wide-ranging and informative webcast will take you through a typical datasheet and explain the full meaning behind many often-misunderstood specs and sections. It is designed for students and younger engineers who are at the beginning of their careers, more experienced engineers who are in a mentorship role that need to educate younger engineers and engineers who might be moving into a new product or application area.

TTM’s acquisition of Viasystems is one big PCB merger that seems to be working well—margins are up even as sales decline a bit.

TTM had third quarter revenues of $640 million with an increased gross margin of 17.1%, up from 15.0% a year ago for the same period. Advanced technology (HDI circuits) was 35% of sales versus 29% the previous quarter. Its top five OEM customers were AAPL, Autoliv, Bosch, CSCO, and Huawei, according to Needham & Co. Book-to-bill at the end of the quarter was 1.06—a positive sign for the next quarter’s sales. Factory utilization in North America dropped 2% to 57%, while it increased in Asia to 80%, up from 74% last quarter.

NextFlex, America’s Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Manufacturing Innovation Institute, announced that it has partnered with California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC), a Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) center in Torrance, Calif., which has been awarded a grant by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers.

NextFlex Director of Commercialization Paul Semenza (who will speak at the IPC’s Executive Forum in February) said, “We’re looking to develop approaches for engaging small manufacturers with NextFlex through hands-on assistance and services, and cultivate an enhanced nationwide network of partnerships among NextFlex and MEP centers. We will work closely with them, and MEP centers in Indiana and Georgia, to develop programs that enable small manufacturers to adopt FHE technologies, and benefit from NextFlex activities.”

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA ), Taiwan Exhibition and Convention Association (TECA), and the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association (TPCA) have co-organized a Taiwan Trade Mission of the PCB and Electronic Connection Industry to Germany. They will hold two B2B match-making meetings there; the first will be held in Düsseldorf on November 8 and the second in Munich on November 10.

Taiwan’s delegates to the events will include Argosy Research Inc., Chin-Poon Industrial Co., Ltd., Eastern Electronics Co., Ltd., Epotek Electronics Co., Ltd., First Hi-tec Enterprise Co., Ltd., Hantic Precision Technology, Inc., Ker Yih Co., Ltd., Plotech Technology Co., Ltd., Subtle Electronic Co., Ltd., UDE Corp., and Unitech PCB Corp.

China’s and Taiwan’s Fall busy season for electronics still shows negative growth (down 4%) when compared to last year.

Bankruptcy filings by U.S. businesses soared 38% in September, from a year earlier, in an ominous sign of a weakening economy, says Wolf Richter, editor of the Wolf Street Blog. Last month’s bankruptcies reached 3,072, bringing the year-to-date total to 28,789, and marked the eleventh straight month of increases from 2015, according to data from the American Bankruptcy Institute.

Qualcomm has agreed to buy NXP Semiconductors for $47 billion in an all-cash deal! This purchase is the largest in the history of the semiconductor industry. Qualcomm is the largest maker of smartphone chips. NXP serves the auto industry. The combined companies will be the major player in the growing market for car infotainment systems and IoT devices while remaining a key supplier of chips for mobile phones. The combined company's annual sales are projected at $30 billion. This merger is just one in a string of multibillion dollar deals in the tech industry during the past year and a half. These include Intel's takeover of Altera, Carlyle's buyout of Atotech, Avago's acquisition of Broadcom, and Dell's $67 billion takeover of EMC. 

Sun Chemical and its parent company DIC have acquired Gwent Electronics Materials. Gwent's European-based production sites will boost Sun Chemical's supply chain position for conductive ink, paste, and powder manufacturing capabilities for printed electronics. 

HP Inc. said it expects to cut about 3,000−4,000 jobs over the next three years as it continues to struggle to maintain profits in a “subdued” printer and personal computer market.

On again, off again, on again... 

Foxconn Electronics is talking about major investments and expansion in India...again. It now states that it will build a plant that will start volume production of iPhones in the 4th quarter of 2017. According to a Chinese language Economic Daily News (EDN) report, Foxconn plans to invest up to $5 billion to set up about a dozen production plants in India by 2020. This will include the renovation of the old Nokia and Sharp facilities in Chennai to produce a combined total of 100 million mobile devices per year. 

The worldwide smartwatch market decreased 51.6% to 2.7 million units in Q3 2016 when compared to Q3 last year, according to data from the International Data Corporation. 

Chip business continues strong but this no longer totally directly relates to board production.

SMIC announced an expansion project for its Tianjin, China facility. Currently running at full capacity, SMIC says that the foundry claims will become the world's largest 8-inch wafer fab. Currently running at full capacity, the facility will have an output of 150,000 8-inch wafers/month when the expansion is completed. The planned capacity expansion is to support demand for fingerprint sensors, power management IC, mixed-signal chips, automotive electronics- and IoT-related solutions.

China’s wearable device shipments increased more than 80% in Q3, to more than 9.5 million units. Shipments will surpass 500 million/year by 2021.

China's economy steadied in the third quarter, posting a 6.7% growth fueled by easy credit and other stimulus measures. The third-quarter pace matched that of the second quarter and is said to meet economists' expectations.

There is renewed interest globally in conductive ink-based metal mesh transparent conductive films. This is because technology and application developments are making this approach more competitive. Capacitive touch technology is reaching the large-sized end of the market, with many touch tables and touch TVs now being prototyped or sold. This changes the technology requirements because such touch tables and TVs are likely to be heavily used in public spaces. This means the users may tolerate seeing visible metal mesh linewidths, thereby relaxing the linewidth requirements to a range easily achievable using direct printing. 

What do they have in mind? 

France's Total sold Berlin-based Atotech to the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm, for $3.2 billion. Atotech, with annual sales of $1.1 billion in metal finishing chemicals and equipment to the automotive and printed circuit industries, has about 4,000 employees—primarily in Europe and China.

German printed circuit board manufacturers reported August orders rose 27.5% year-over-year, says ZVEI PCB and Electronic Systems. Sequentially, orders were up 7.9%. PCB manufacturers’ sales were up 5% year-over-year and 7.9%, sequentially. Year to date through August, sales were down 0.8%. The August book-to-bill ratio reached a new high for the year of 1.17. The ratio suggests future growth in the sector.

The 14th Electronic Circuits World Convention will be held in KINTEX, Goyang City, S. Korea from April 25–27, 2017, along with KPCA show hosted by Korea Printed Circuits Association (KPCA) as well as World Electronic Circuits Council (WECC).

From Japan

NEC has developed a new high efficiency lithium ion battery for use as the power source of industrial use drones. It is said to increase flying time over existing power sources by 33%.

Renesas Electronics has unveiled a new compact wireless charging system for wearable and healthcare devices.

Toppan Printing will enter the biosensor business utilizing piezo electric devices. The company sees a major potential in the medical and healthcare markets.

Are you an executive of a company that makes PCBs or flexible circuits? Do you plan to attend IPC APEX EXPO 2017 in February at the San Diego Convention Center? If so, you should definitely participate in the Executive Forum produced by the members of the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame designed to help you go forward in these difficult times. An all-star program composed of suppliers, fabricators, buyers, consortia leaders will provide their expertise. Others will participate in a panel discussion to provide you with ideas that they used to succeed.

A special speaker from Asia will give you the real "scoop" as to what is going on there.

Did you say that you are not an IPC member? No matter! Let me show you how to save nearly $1,000 on a first-year membership.

Still doubtful?

You can take advantage of this one-time special arrangement to attend the February 13, 2017 Executive Forum at the same price as IPC members, and then take a few days to decide if you wish to take advantage of the special membership offer.

Contact me for detailed information. 

On November 16, Gene Weiner will present an IPC "Wisdom Wednesday" Webinar titled: "A Vision for the Industry." The free webinar will be an IPC Members ONLY presentation.

Gene Weiner is president of Weiner International Associates. To contact Gene, click here.

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