Changing of the Guard at APEX

Trevor Galbraith – Editor-in-Chief

Without doubt, this year’s IPC APEX Expo was a seminal moment, marked by new technologies, management changes and the sad loss of a much-loved colleague.

For Global SMT & Packaging it marked the first official launch of our Live Programming direct from the show. Those who were unable to attend in person could tune-in for up to four hours of live programming each day. This included six panel debates that focused on a range of technical topics:

Turning inspection data into actionable instructions 

Selective soldering – do’s and don’ts 

IPC Connected Factory Initiative – how will it work? 

How much intelligence can you pack into a pick ‘n place machine? 

Making reflow ovens smart 

Dispensing, potting and encapsulation challenges 

On the show floor, the traffic was light at times, but most exhibitors were happy with the quality of the visitors. IPC APEX is not the biggest show on the SMT calendar, but it is in many ways the most influential.

Innovations were spearheaded by new mounters from JUKI, Panasonic and Yamaha. MIRTEC launched an addition to their benchtop series with the MV3 – OMNI and KYZEN made a bold move into the capital equipment world with the launch of their ANALYST bath analyzer, which comes complete with real-time and batch traceability.

Metcal introduced a new range of soldering irons that give a visual and audible warning when the operator is approaching the intermetallic layer when soldering. Martin Hart at TopLine showed a novel system for reducing vibration on boards that undergo high vibration. The system was developed in cooperation with NASA.

Some of the business and management announcements included the new branding by ITW EAE (Electronic Assembly Equipment), replacing the former Speedline brand. Bob Black at JUKI introduced Bill Astle as the new President. Bob retains the role of CEO for another year. And Alan Cable finally heralds his semi-retirement with the sale of ACE to Nordson. Alan will remain in a consultancy role.

ASM Assembly Systems showcased a novel ‘smart factory’ layout in their booth. Using an RFID tag attached to your badge, visitors were guided around a series of interactive stations, where they were asked a question about their current production habits and then shown how their answer compared with their peers who had visited the feature before them.

Many suppliers of equipment and materials and the global press who visit these trade shows around the world were deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden death of our friend and colleague, Donal McDonald, publisher of Electronics Production World during APEX. He was only 48 years old. See obituary on Page 4.

Trevor Galbraith Editor-in-Chief 


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