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Onshoring Momentum Powers Siplace Expansion
Grand opening ribbon cutting by (left to right) Jeff Timms, President Americas, Mark Ogden Marketing and Sales Support Manager, and Günter Lauber, CEO.
Atlanta, GA — The message was loud and clear at a recent ribbon-cutting and seminar in Suwanee, Georgia: manufacturing in the U.S. is having a marked resurgence, and Siplace is going to be a major contributor to this growth with its cutting-edge automated assembly equipment.

Siplace had been a Siemens company for many years, but the ownership changed hands in January, 2011 when Siplace was purchased by ASM Pacific Technology, a Hong Kong-based company. At the time, there was concern that a change in ownership would bring nothing but cutbacks and problems.

But quite the opposite has been true; Siplace is enjoying unprecedented success under the roof of its new owner, a company that operates in the same industry, but has never competed with Siplace. ASM had been and still is a major source for semiconductor chip assembly and bonding equipment, and highly successful, with nearly 12,000 employees at the time of the acquisition, and well over a half-billion US dollars in sales. As it turned out, ASMPT and ASMAS complement each other perfectly in terms of portfolios, philosophies and people.

Increased Onshoring
In 2011, manufacturers in both North and South America managed to increase their importance in the global electronics market; the emerging trend of "on-shoring" production back to North America has become a noteworthy trend. Participating in this rising market, the American Siplace team has earned a large piece of market share since introducing the Siplace SX.

The new facility just north of Atlanta has an impressive soaring atrium lobby dominated by a huge "ASM Assembly Systems" logo. Welcoming invited guests to the grand opening, Siplace CEO Günter Lauber talked about the company's history and the benefits of acquisition by ASM Pacific Technology last year. While some people might have feared at the time that a change in ownership would bring nothing but cutbacks and problems, quite the opposite has been true: Siplace is enjoying unprecedented success under the umbrella of its new owner.

Supporting Local Customers
"Our team and our customers in the Americas are a matter close to my heart," Mr. Lauber said. He explained that he worked in the Atlanta area for a long time. "We now have the products, the strategies and means to support our local customers even more effectively. Our Siplace SX placement platform was designed to meet the demands of highly flexible production and the new Siplace site in Georgia gives us the opportunity to offer local electronics manufacturers better service, advice and logistics."

A tour of the lower floor of the facility revealed the more functional areas such as the warehouse, shipping and the impressive training center. The well-equipped training center was also where Siplace Head of Marketing Americas Mark Ogden and Ulf Becker demonstrated how an actual new product might be shepherded from first receiving the production data and the steps needed to set up and run the machine, in this case a set of state-of-the-art Siplace SX systems. After transferring the data and importing a scan of the PCB, it took Mark and Ulf only seconds to resolve common inconsistencies between Gerber data, the actual board and the BOM. The team described all components with lightning speed in Siplace Virtual Product Build and corrected many small errors in the raw data (wrong angles, misalignments of pins and pads) offline or directly on the machine.

Mark Ogden Manager Marketing and Sales Support with Siplace machines.

After a few minutes, the new product had been translated into a production-ready placement program. After being described, the new product was also supposed to be set up and produced before the audience. While this sounds pretty drawn-out for a short demonstration, the Siplace SX was able to speed up the process considerably by quickly computing a differential setup.

After running through the NPI process, Odgen and Becker tackled the "truly hard tasks". The scenario: An EMS producer must suddenly deliver significantly higher quantities of a particular PCB. Where should the additional capacity come from?

There is no time to buy and install another machine, and outsourcing the lucrative order to someone else is out of the question. The solution: Interchangeable SX gantries. For this demonstration, Ogden and Becker once again used plenty of showmanship. While Mark talked about the requirements of today's high-mix production environments and practical experience with the Siplace SX, Becker installed a complete new gantry equipped with a new MultiStar head into the Siplace SX. The result: double the placement capacity with no need to reconfigure the line. The Siplace SX recognizes the second gantry immediately, re-optimizes the programs and starts producing — at twice the speed. Siplace President Americas Jeff Timms said that issues like efficiency, placement performance, floorspace 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 seamless integration into their customers' supply chains. This requires flexible solutions — which are offered with the Siplace SX platform. "On the other hand, we see lots of gateway plants, where prototypes, processes and programs are developed, tested and ramped up before being sent to Asia for high-volume production," he said. "This can only be done efficiently if the equipment maker is present in both 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."

Siplace SX has enabled the company to increase its market share in America. The reason, Jeff continued, "Our developers listened. We questioned many traditional concepts in our industry and modified what we found or disregarded it completely. For example: Driven by the desire to maximize their placement speed, many manufacturers keep 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 pick-and-place or collect-and-place. And it does it for an unprecedented component spectrum. Another example are the interchangeable gantries, another innovation in the Siplace SX. If we need more performance to meet seasonal demand peaks, the EMS provider can quickly raise the line capacity in only a few minutes by adding a Siplace SX gantry. And we can equally quickly reduce the performance again when this added 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."

Contact: ASM Assembly Systems, LLC, 3975 Lakefield Court, Suite 106, Suwanee, GA 30024 770-797-3000 Fax: 770-797-3091 E-mail: Web:

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