Weiner’s World – June 2017

Reading time ( words)

A challenge to SEMI?

As China sets out on the Made in China 2025 plan with electronics and semiconductor technology as one of the Top 10 focus areas its new China High-end Integrated Circuit Alliance (CHICA) held its second meeting. The meeting purpose was to gather producers, institutions, research institutes and users to explore innovation, advance integrated circuit industry research, and build “architecture: - chip - software - machine - system - information service” to promote rapid development of the integrated circuit industry.

Its members include: Tsinghua Unigroup, Inspur, Sugon, CEC, State Grid Information & Telecommunication, Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE, Loongson, Tsinghua University, Shanghai Zhaoxin, Tianjin Phytium, Shanghai Huahong, Yangtze River Storage, SMIC, CS&S, China Standard Software, National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, Telecommunications Research Institute of Ministry of Industry & Information Technology, China Electronics Standardization Institute, Chinese Electronics Standardization Association, and the Fifth Electronic Research Institute of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The four working focus areas of the Alliance are:

  • Become the “communication bridge” for joint high-end technology research
  • Act as the “contact link” for collaborative innovation of producers, institutions, research lnstitutes and users
  • Function as the “adhesive” for promoting construction of industrial ecological system
  • Advocate the new “important platform” for international cooperation and talent cultivation

A long silence and lack of response has ended

When I got home from Asia I received notice of the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Case of Earth One Circuit Technologies Corporation dba eSurface. They rose from "nowhere" just a few years ago with an expensive dramatic splash at the annual IPC APEX EXPO in California. They promised to change the way that printed ciruits were made. They had a fantastic promotional blitz. They were able to demonstrate an interesting method of applying copper to various substrates but were unable to provide substantiating data that met many of their own claims, IPC specs, repeatability, or solution maintenance and stability or process controls.

It takes more than standards

“The systematic (as opposed to technical) root cause of the material problems I faced as fab materials quality manager at Intel almost always came down to a problem in stability, where there was a change to the material the supplier didn’t think was important, a change in the processing that they didn’t catch, or a change in the incoming raw material that they didn’t detect. Material suppliers have to accept that the customers’ definition of quality becomes their definition of quality, and the main rule is to make sure that a material that’s working does not change at all. Consistency is the key for the end user, so it must be for us as well. A spec alone will not measure or ensure that. It takes robust change control, process control, and incoming raw material control.” – Jim Mulready, VP Global Quality Assurance, JSR Micro

Amen, Jim, Amen!

Credit Agricole says that momentum in China's economy is robust. Its first half of the year numbers gave evidence of stable momentum that gives policy makers room to continue defusing financial risks. The manufacturing purchasing managers index increased to 51.7 in June, beating all estimates compiled by a Bloomberg survey of economists, and the 51.2 reading in May. New export orders rose to 52.0, the highest level since April 2012.


Park Electrochemical announced the consolidation of its Nelco Products, Inc. electronics Business Unit located in Fullerton, California (“NPI”) and its Neltec, Inc. electronics Business Unit located in Tempe, Arizona (“Neltec”). When completed, all manufacturing operations at NPI will cease, except for the NPI treating operation, which will continue as part and under the supervision of the Neltec Business Unit. All manufacturing functions, including treating, lamination, prepreg paneling, finishing, inspection, quality lab and shipping and receiving, will continue at the Neltec Business Unit location in Tempe, Arizona. After the consolidation is complete, the Neltec Business Unit (including the continuing treating operation in California) is expected to have ongoing manufacturing capacity equal to approximately three times the current production levels of NPI and Neltec combined.

Shortages can help some

Taiwan’s Co-Tech Copper Foil could have profitable sales of more than$200 million 2017 due to a continuing significant increase in car-use copper foil demand particularly that from China, as well as rising prices of copper materials. The company returned to profitability last year with a nearly quintupling of margins following five years of losses.

Flexible PCB maker Ichia Technologies has reported consolidated revenues of $19.9 million for May, increasing 16.51% on month and 17.45% on year. May's revenues were the company's highest monthly figures in 20 months.

Flexible PCB manufacturer Flexium Interconnect is expected to see its July revenues rise substantially driven by robust demand for high-end smartphones. The company is reportedly among the FPCB suppliers for the upcoming iPhone series slated for launch in September 2017. Flexium’s revenues for all of 2017 are expected to register double-digit growth.

A monumental accomplishment, but…

The 2017 Roadmap from the International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) is now on sale on the iNEMI website. With 28 chapters (the most ever published by iNEMI) and 2,300+ pages, this latest edition of the roadmap provides a comprehensive view of the electronics manufacturing supply chain's technology needs and challenges over the next 10 years.

Seven chapters anticipate the technology needs of key market segments by focusing on the market demands and functionality requirements of the following sectors: automotive, aerospace and defense, consumer and office systems, high-end systems, Internet of Things (IOT), medical, and portable and wireless.

The remaining 21 chapters identify technology trends, focusing on the key technology capabilities and developments anticipated and required within the electronics manufacturing supply chain to meet product needs over a 10-year horizon. The 2017 iNEMI Roadmap highlights several key technology trends impacting electronic manufacturing and its supply chain, including:

  • Growing data volume—along with secure and swift transfer, and the ability to analyze it intelligently—will be a key industry focus.
  • Security and interoperability of data, devices and users are two immediate "grand challenges" for the industry and its markets.
  • Commercialization of services, particularly software-enabled and cloud-based services, will continue to expand.
  • Emergence of new computing architectures in the high-end segment to address the complex tasks.
  • Deployment of IOT capabilities beyond consumer markets into automotive, medical and industrial applications will drive major changes in global manufacturing and end use.
  • Transition from the beginning-of-the-century vision for products completely enabled by printed electronics to products enabled by "flexible hybrid electronics" where traditional low-profile electronic components are integrated with printed components and flexible substrates.
  • Autonomous driving technologies are affecting several technologies—such as sensors.
  • Growth of perceptual and location aware computing and connectivity will continue the drive for heterogeneous system integration.
  • The need to ensure supply chain integrity and efficiency will drive changes in existing business and manufacturing models.
  • Increasing product traceability requirements from silicon to end user

The roadmap is a global collaborative effort that involves many individuals who are leading experts in their respective fields and represent many perspectives on the electronics manufacturing supply chain. More than 500 individuals from at least 22 countries, and representing more than 350 corporations, consortia, government agencies and universities came together to create the 2017 Roadmap.


  1. Presidential Executive Order Expanding Apprenticeships in America, released June 15, 2017.
  2. ”Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act of 2017”, S.1352
  3. To read Numakura’s full column, click here.


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