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Editor’s Note: At the recent CPCA show in China, I-Connect007 Editor Pete Starkey interviewed a number of people, and one of the main topics of interest was automation. In keeping with our feature topic this month, we have excerpted select parts of his conversations and compiled them for you here. As Starkey’s interviewees point out, the case for automation is not just about moving things faster, but also reducing handling and handling defects, improving consistency and reliability, and of course, reducing costs.
Excerpted from, “Morgan and Starkey on CPCA 2016, Automation, and the Upcoming ECWC14”
Pete Starkey: Alun, you mentioned efficiency. Now one thing I’ve noticed in talking to people in the show is the trend to increasing automation, the trend to increasing integration, and the Chinese equivalent of Industry 4.0. I think a perceived characteristic of the industry over here is that there are lots of people doing lots of manual things, and these people are, I think, quite rapidly being replaced by machines.
Alun Morgan: A very good point—I think it’s no longer the case, the degree of automation is now massive in these companies. If you look around this show you see loads of equipment for automatic handling, many small robots, loading-unloading machines, automatic guided vehicles running around moving components, moving pieces. Actually I think the factories that are successful here are hugely automated and there are good reasons for that. You can think of labor being cheap, of course, that’s always a nice model—think cheap labor, therefore you can make the boards easily. But actually, machines make boards far more reliably, so you have far more consistency of production. I think that’s why automation has come around, because when you’re making tens of thousands of units, they must all be the same.
Read the full article here.
This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine
Andy Shaughnessy, Design007 Magazine
It’s been a busy week for I-Connect007. Managing Editor Nolan Johnson and I covered PCB West at the Santa Clara Convention Center, and, as you’ll see in my article below the place was packed. We have an article about SMTA International, scheduled for the end of October. I think the trade show season is looking good into 2023. People are done with COVID shutdowns and ready to get back to live trade shows and conferences. We’ll be in Minneapolis to bring you the latest news and technical information. We also have a news report about the European Union committing to craft its own version of America’s CHIPS Act. There’s a great interview with Dana Korf and John Strubbe about the latest innovations in materials at TUC. And columnist Paige Fiet explains why she is committed to making manufacturing “cool” again to help recruit and retain young technologists.
Dan Beaulieu, D.B. Management Group
I love books, especially good business books. In fact, I read three or four a week which I believe makes me a very discerning critic when it comes to ones with the right message. "A One-Legged Stool: How Shareholder Primacy Has Broken Business (And What We Can Do About It)" by Ed Chambliss is one that can help us in both business and life. It has the right message.
This book is so timely and extremely important now because Chambliss brings to light one of the great wrongs in the thinking of the last century, an error that has broken business for the past 50 years—the idea that we are all in business to make money for our shareholders and (and all others, employees, customers, and vendors be damned). We all know where this has gotten us.
I-Connect007 Editorial Team
There’s been a lot of talk among PCB manufacturers about the need to upskill their workforce. But where do you start—do you set up your own program or send staff to third-party training centers? We asked David Hernandez, IPC vice president of education, to weigh in on this topic, and the criteria that goes into creating IPC training programs. In addition to upskilling strategies, David also delves into the need for our industry to develop a labor pipeline, as well as the challenges we face in hiring, training, and retaining employees in this industry during a tight labor market.