|Programming production parameters on the STI manufacturing floor.
The days of build-to-print subassemblies are disappearing with the new requirements and demands that are being placed on contract manufacturers (CM). In the future, CMs will be "One Stop Solution Providers" for all things required to design, build, warranty and deliver a complete electronics assembly.
The expectation for the CM is to build complete electronics assemblies (tested and boxed) that are designed and manufactured to meet performance specifications, reliability expectations and perform within life expectancies (warranty periods). These new demands on CMs are requiring a new business model and philosophy.
Need for Flexibility
CMs of the future must be able to operate with tremendous flexibility. The CM must be more sophisticated and must incorporate certain in-house capabilities and staff:
- Design engineering.
- Component engineering.
- Failure analysis labs.
- Reliability testing labs.
- Test engineering.
- In-house training classrooms for both industry-specific and custom in-house specifications.
- State-of-the-art manufacturing labs and facilities.
STI has been in the process of morphing itself into the CM of the future, instituting and/or updating each one of these capabilities and attributes over the last six years. This intense change level becomes necessary as customer demands and expectations for high-reliability, complete box build electronics assemblies increasingly become the norm.
Customers are pushing more of the design and reliability expectations onto the CM, as well as meeting warranty expectations and objectives. These expectations are increasing the need for CMs to have expertise in the design and engineering disciplines that previously have been done by the customers' own in-house staff. STI believes and embraces the business philosophy of being a "One Stop Solution Provider" as the true role of future contract manufacturing. As customers' demands increase for services of this type, the CM must follow suit and increase its capabilities to meet these expectations and make sure it has the necessary resources in its plant to meet these requirements.
Design and Component Experts
In order to survive in today's market, CMs will develop or hire in-house design and component experts capable of testing and validating warranty expectations and reliability objectives as well as the manufacturing function that it has always done. STI has and will continue to invest in design and component engineering, full service failure and analytical lab services, and reliability lab services — environment and thermal. In addition, the company has three state-of-the-art classrooms designed and equipped for lecture, hands-on assembly and solder training as well as full rework and repair capabilities to train in-house personnel as well as outside customers around the world.
The headlong rush to miniaturization of electronics assemblies has created an ongoing need for manufacturing labs and microelectronic cleanrooms that are have the latest equipment and capabilities. Manufacturing electronic densities are shrinking and the demand to integrate 0201 and chip-scale packages and bumped die and wire bonded die (microelectronic capabilities) on the same assembly are pushing the CM of the future to ultra-dense electronics assemblies and products. These new demands and expectations are driving resurgence in American contract manufacturing.
STI has invested in people, equipment and facilities to be on the forefront of this dynamic business shift to a "One Stop One Solution" contract manufacturing. The future of contract electronics manufacturing is indeed a bright one for those who embrace change and are willing to morph themselves. They must become solution providers that add value with services and expertise to ensure that customer-designed products meet end use expectations in the marketplace.
This push of responsibilities from OEMs to the CMs will only continue to grow as companies streamline their organizations. The days of the "traditional" OEM are numbered, as these companies change into profit design centers who must outsource just about everything else — the design for manufacturability and testability, warranty and reliability expectations, and sourcing and logistical delivery systems to the contract manufacturer. This change in business philosophy is a plus for the customer's profitability, but if mishandled, could become a tremendous burden and challenge for the CM who must fulfill these additional customer requirements. To do so without planning can become an extraordinary burden for the CM. STI has put the time, energy and resources together to be considered a serious contender in the market as a partner CM for its customers today and in the future.
Contact: STI Electronics Inc., 261 Palmer Rd., Madison, AL 35758 256-461-9191 fax: 256-461-7524 Web: http://www.stielectronics.com or ZeeVee, Inc., 1 Monarch Drive, Littleton, MA 01460 978-633-9843 Web: http://www.zeevee.com