|Jeff Timms, CEO of ASM Assembly Systems in the Americas at the grand opening.
At the Siplace Grand Opening in Suwanee, Georgia in June of 2012, several industry experts were invited to participate in panel discussions about the current state and future vision of the SMT industry in the Americas.
With a brighter economy and strong growth in 2011, electronics producers in North and South America should be happy after many years of consolidation. The positive trend also brings with it new challenges, however, as was made quite clear during the Grand Opening of the new Siplace headquarters for the Americas.
The event in Suwanee was characterized by three panel discussions. The topics were "Manufacturing Challenges in the Americas," "Best-in-Class Solutions for America's Manufacturers," and "The Future of Electronics in the Americas." The subject matter inspired not only the panel members, but prompted many questions and comments from the audience. Phil Stoten, who as the publisher of the EMSnow online newsletter, is intimately familiar with the industry, guided the discussions with knowledge and humor.
In the first round titled "Manufacturing Challenges in the Americas", the panel agreed that after many years of offshoring, a trend towards more insourcing in the Americas is indeed noticeable. The reasons are manifold: falling labor rates in the U.S.; the desire to be close to the highly synchronized supply chains of U.S. manufacturers in the automotive, medical and machine tool industries; and many companies have underestimated the total costs of operating in Asia.
The three experts said that this last reason applies in particular to those industries and customers where quality and small production runs are at the top of the list of requirements. In order to benefit from the current boom over the long term, American electronics producers must expand on their strengths, said the panel members. Dan Baldwin stated: "We must build on our customer proximity as a core strength and offer more and more flexible services, especially in development-related areas where time-to-market is of the essence." Carsten Salewski stressed the new demands on quality management, because "when gateway production plants produce only small lots, quality is not determined by statistical testing, but by the quality of the processes, and this requires a new way of thinking and new solutions."
According to Jeff Timms, CEO of ASM Assembly Systems in the Americas, he is particularly pleased with the extremely positive feedback that ASM received from its guests. "The hard work during all these months has paid off, and I would like to thank my team for everything they have done. They were terrific. I also received lots of praise for the program and the contents of the event."
Jeff pointed out that the requirements of electronics producers in North and South America are basically not much different from those in the rest of the world. "Issues like efficiency, placement performance, floor space performance and cost of ownership are equally important in all of the world's markets. But the American markets have a few special requirements. After years of offshoring, local producers are scoring with their flexibility and their seamless integration into their customers' supply chains.'
All of this requires flexible solutions — which ASM offers with its Siplace SX platform. On the other hand, there are lots of gateway plants, where prototypes, processes and programs are developed, tested and ramped up before being sent to Asia for high-volume production. This can only be done efficiently if the equipment maker is present both in the U.S. and Asia, and if the placement programs can be developed independently of individual machine and line configurations. The degree of automation and user-friendliness of the machines must support such transfers as well. Fortunately, Siplace provides the right solutions for such requirements.
Increasing Market Share
The Siplace SX has been a huge success and enabled the company to further increase its market share in the Americas. This has happened because the company's developers listened to what the customers wanted. "We questioned many traditional concepts in our industry and modified what we found or disregarded it completely." Timms explained. He cited the example of the many manufacturers driven by the desire to maximize their placement speed, so they kept developing new specialty heads. In a flexible production environment with falling lot sizes and frequent product changeovers, however, these old head concepts look like sailing ships in the steamship era: perfect in themselves, but completely obsolete. Siplace, on the other hand, rolled out its MultiStar placement head: a single head that always does exactly what needs to be done with extreme accuracy and efficiency — whether it's pick-and-place or collect-and-place. And it does it for an unprecedented component spectrum.
Another example: the interchangeable gantries, another innovation in the Siplace SX. If a manufacturer needs more performance to meet seasonal demand peaks, he can quickly raise the line capacity in only a few minutes by adding a Siplace SX gantry. And he can just as quickly reduce the performance again when the extra capacity is no longer needed. There is no need to reconfigure anything. The software recognizes the addition instantly and adapts the placement programs automatically. In these and many other aspects, the Siplace SX is absolutely unique.
Of course having a great solution is no use if you don't have the right people to support it.
One of the keys for ASM is the fact that the company and its partners have extremely competent and experienced specialists on their teams. To translate this knowledge into optimized SMT solutions and combinations of hardware, software and services that are perfectly designed for the customer's individual processes, calls for a large amount of data from the customers early on, and in many cases the data will be highly confidential. The more openly a customer talks with ASM, the more efficient and effective his SMT solution will be.
In the end, everyone involved wants the movement back to the Americas to work as desired and to become a win-win situation for OEMs, contract manufacturers, customers, and the supply chain. They all have to work in an atmosphere of partnership and will tolerate nothing less than positive success.
Contact: ASM Assembly Systems, LLC, 3975 Lakefield Court, Suite 106, Suwanee, GA 30024 770-797-3000 Fax: 770-797-3091 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.siplace.com