Reliable Electronics are the Future for Manufacturers in Europe
Electronic manufacturing has seen major changes over the last decades. Consumer electronics was outsourced to Asia. For the remaining applications in Europe quality requirements have increased ever since. Despite very precise SMD mounting and advanced soldering machines random assembly errors can and will occur. Therefore PCBA testing is a key element to achieve high quality for electronic manufacturers.
The in-circuit test contributes significantly to a high test coverage besides the optical inspection (AOI) and the functional test (FCT). However it could not be replaced by both.
Also flying-probe test systems could not nearly reach the productivity that is needed for high-volume product lines.
Therefore the ICT test has survived from the beginning of electronics manufacturing until today. With the possibilities of boundary scan and the combination with in-system programming the modern in-circuit test is ever more important. And for densely populated boards the fine pitch fixtures have been able to save space.
However the opportunities to optimize costs despite expensive initial investments have been overlooked by many companies.
Most EMS companies and OEMs have outsourced the fixture design and manufacturing to professional companies. Many have done the same for the implementation of test programmes. These solution providers are often able to deliver turn-key projects including the fixture also.
This website provides resources for the electronics industry to enable better decisions for the choice of test systems, ICT fixture suppliers and ICT software houses.
Drones need to have the highest reliability possible. Air risk and ground risk are key for compliance with saftety standards and for regulatory authorities under all environmental conditions.
Many OEMs manufacture electronics in-house. If the size of the operation is big enough there should not be any disadvantage to outsourced operations. In-house production has the advantage of higher flexibility, better long-term planning opportunities of the business and smoother project implementation from development into production. There is less risk of know-how leakage to the market for high-tech applications.
With regards to testing it is quite obvious to control the quality in-house. More inspection and test usually means higher product quality. However, when the organisation gets too self-confident, very often opportunities for savings are missed and the business case for outsourcing comes up. That is especially true for the engineering of the test project.
Electronic manufacturing by specialized EMS companies has started decades ago and has become more and more popular over the last years. Lower wages in low-cost regions, more economies of scale across industries and more flexibility of suppliers have been the main arguments for outsourcing electronic manufacturing. Manufacturing requires quite some capital investment and could reduce growth opportunities in the core business due to limited funding. Therefore any business leader has to take a balanced make-or-buy decision.
Indeed we see both trends in the current market at the same time: More and more OEMs are awarding business to contract manufacturers, but still some are considering to take over EMS companies to increase the know-how in-house. We see this trend for companies without a tradition in electronics, e.g. automotive Tier1s.