Archive for October, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Viasystems opens new North American Manufacturing center

PCB supplier, Viasystems Group, is opening its new North American PCB Technology and Manufacturing Center in Anaheim, California.
“Viasystems’ new Anaheim facility showcases some of the latest state-of-the-art production equipment, with a focus on automation that greatly increases throughput and takes advantage of the most current technology available,” said David M. Sindelar, Chief Executive Officer of Viasystems.

“This new owned facility replaces our previously existing multi-building leased location and houses a significant number of technological and manufacturing upgrades. These upgrades will allow our advanced engineering team to offer our customers unmatched capabilities for PCB applications in the semiconductor, aerospace, and advanced communication end markets,” continued Mr. Sindelar.

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PostHeaderIcon Zollner: up and running in Switzerland

Since the beginning of October, Zollner Elektronik has been ‘up and running’ at its new production facility in Hombrechtikon, Switzerland, where the company will operate under the name Zollner Electronics GmbH.
At this location, the company will produce complex mechatronics systems for Qiagen. Along side this, the company will also produce products for customers in the field of NMR technology (= nuclear magnetic resonance).

On October 10, 2013, a small ceremony was held with representatives from Qiagen and Zollner to celebrated the successful completion of the joint project. The first product has been successfully tested and delivered. Douglas Liu, Vice President of Operations from Qiagen and Johann Weber, CEO & Board of Zollner Elektronik AG, thanked the employees of Qiagen and Zollner for the good partnership and for successful project work. “We are looking forward to this new challenge and we will continuously expand mechatronics and biochemistry“, says Johann Weber.

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PostHeaderIcon Microsoft just edges Sony; Nintendo a distant third

Microsoft just edged Sony for the top position in ABI Research’s game console Competitive Assessment, based on expectations for the impact of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One game consoles.
ABI Research evaluated a number of companies across three device categories: game consoles, smart set-top boxes, and TVs/Blu-ray players. Several factors were used to score each company based on two main axes of Innovation and Implementation. The assessment provides deep insight into consumer electronics ecosystems and modern video experiences in the connected home.

Sony fell to second in the game console assessment in part because key PlayStation 4 (PS4) differentiators like cloud gaming are still untested (and won’t be fully available at launch), but largely because Microsoft has shown more features on the broader entertainment front (e.g. hybrid premium/OTT services). Nintendo secured the third position but a significant gap remains between it and market leaders.

Senior analyst Michael Inouye commented, “With the hardware specs between Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PS4 so similar this leaves Nintendo’s Wii U on the outside. If not for Nintendo’s wider distribution network, console heritage, and first party titles it would start to find itself in closer competition with many of the new market entrants.”

Not since the fifth generation of consoles have there been so many competing platforms, but unlike the past there is room for optimism. In this analysis some new platforms scored fairly well due to relatively solid foundations – e.g. Android or Valve’s Steam. Before these new entrants compete on equal ground with the incumbents; however, the markets (mobile in particular) will need to further develop and evolve.

Practice director Sam Rosen added, “As we look at the distribution of companies in this analysis it might look as if we expect a bifurcation in console gaming – a high end populated by two premium platforms and a larger pool largely based on mobile ecosystems. While this might be true in the short term we anticipate the market will come to look more cohesive than not as technologies like cloud gaming place less emphasis on the hardware and more on platforms and services.”

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PostHeaderIcon Tecnomaster goes with Orbotech – again

Tecnomaster Group has purchased an additional Orbotech Sprint inkjet printer for use in its newly acquired company, LPP GmbH in Germany.
Tecnomaster now utilizes Orbotech’s Sprint technology in production in all of its three facilities (Italy, France and Germany).

Commenting on the announcement, Mr. Arduino Pattaro, President of Tecnomaster, said: “Our goal is to maintain a high quality standard and unified process throughout our manufacturing operations. The acquisition of LPP is of major strategic importance to the company, enabling us to capture 80% PCB market coverage in Europe. To meet the demanding requirements of our customers, we must ensure top performing production equipment and modern processes in all facilities. This makes utilizing Orbotech technology a logical decision.”

Mr. Hadar Himmelman, President of Orbotech West, said “With its recent acquisition of LPP and continued investment in capital equipment, Tecnomaster is moving forward with its growth initiatives as a leading PCB manufacturer in Europe. We are pleased to be able to support their strategic goals and further progress with best-in-class technology solutions. ”

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PostHeaderIcon PartnerTech leveraging European experience in Asia

Swedish PartnerTech has scaled up its operations in Asia. Now the company looks to build on its knowhow gathered from its other ventures.
With its facility in Dongguan, China having ISO 9001, 14001 and 13485 certifications, the factory focuses on medical and clean-tech. The facility is equipped with four SMT lines and several class 10 clean rooms.

The company sees its history and European connection as an advantage in these areas as PartnerTech CEO Leif Thorwaldsson told The South China Morning Post: “We have a strong advantage in the med-tech and clean-tech fields, given our familiarity with rigorous regulations in Europe, the United States and Asia.”

More and more of the economic development takes place in Asia. Something that the PartnerTech looks to be a part of while integrating its Asian operations with the established networks in Europe and the Americas.

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PostHeaderIcon Foxconn looking to list subsidiaries

Hon Hai Precision Industry – Foxconn Electronics – is looking to have at least seven of its subsidiaries listed – either on Taiwan’s over-the-counter stock market or the Taiwanese stock exchange – before the en of 2015.
The connector business of the EMS-giant, New Wing International – Originally Foxconn’s Network Interconnection Business Group – will apply to enter the TSE in 2015, according to DigitTimes, citing market watchers.

The company’s subsidiary, Eson Precision Engineering is already on its way as it has passed the evaluation for listing. Ennoconn – the industrial PC ODM wing of Foxconn – has just applied for evaluation.

Other entity’s that will apply for listing are: Firipower Integrated Technology and Advanced Optoelectronic Technology (AOT), as well as a optical related subsidiary and GIS, the report continues.

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PostHeaderIcon Tieto to lay off 770

Tieto will continue with its efficiency improvements as part of its continuous renewal, seeking to improve price competitiveness and to meet its long-term financial targets. Which means, headcount reductions.
Additionally, Tieto needs to address the overcapacity caused by the longer-term decline in the telecom sector. With the actions initiated in 2013, including personnel negotiations started in May and August, Tieto aims at annualized savings of over EUR 50 million.

Tieto aims to reduce up to 770 positions globally, of which up to 455 in its service lines (up to 240 in Managed Services and up to 215 in Consulting and System Integration), up to 205 in Product Development Services and up to 110 in its industry groups and support functions.

The planned reductions affect approximately 350 employees in Finland, 180 in Sweden and 240 in other countries. The reductions are expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

According to local practices in Finland, personnel negotiations will be started in the Managed Services Service Line (up to 170 employees), Product Development Services (up to 90) and the Telecom, Energy and Media industry group (up to 25). The remainder of the reductions are being handled mainly through individual agreements and retirement arrangements.

“The IT industry is in the midst of rapid global change: new technologies, such as cloud computing, and changes in customer requirements drive the rapid modernization of old IT systems to standardized and less labour-intensive solutions,” says Kimmo Alkio, President and CEO for Tieto.

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PostHeaderIcon Skolkovo – Russian centre of innovation

We cannot delay this any longer. We must embark on the modernization and technological re-equipment of the industrial sector as a whole. I believe, for our country, it is a matter of survival in the modern world,” said Dmitry Medvedev.
In late 2009 he unveiled plans to create a Russian Silicon Valley called Skolkovo. So, what exactly is Skolkovo today?

For one, it is not just a single geographical area. It can better be described as a program covering all of Russia. Innocity – the heart of Skolkovo – is now under construction. It will be the future centre of the Russian electronic industry. But even such a massive investment as the establishment of a new city is not enough to boost the huge electronics world in Russia. People involved in the Skolkovo project usually describe it as a nationwide idea. A friendly eco-system for innovative companies.

The Skolkovo Foundation is a non-governmental body, having a mandate from the government to create an innovation centre based on government subsidies. In turn, Skolkovo supports over 1’000 innovative companies across the country, organises an Open University, builds a brand new city in Moscow’s suburbia, ensures financing and cooperates with key partners, such as Cisco, Nokia, Intel and many others.

Anna Nikina, Head of Partnership Development, describes the current shape of the Skolkovo initiative: “Today, more than 1’000 innovative companies are Skolkovo participants, employing 13’000 people. These are very young companies, established on average just 15 months ago. Only 35 of them are located here, in Moscow’s Technopark: the rest are spread across all of Russia. Also, 43 international companies – key partners such as Microsoft, IBM, Johnson&Johnson – have shown interest. 28 of them will establish R&D centers in Skolkovo’s Innocity and already have started to work towards that goal.”

In the nearest future, Skolkovo will receive its heart: Innocity. The new city will be build as a green field establishment on a 2.5 million sq.m. plot and will comprise office buildings, a University, numerous R&D centers, the Technopark and an apartment area for 22 – 25 thousand inhabitants. Everything will be connected with the Moscow city centre by a fast train, envisioned to transport another 20 thousand employees daily.

“We are going to create a friendly eco-system which gathers all players needed to boost the innovation process. Something that was never created in the former Soviet Union. In ‘naukogrady’, no connection was made between science and business. One of the key steps to pool both in the same place was – in fact – finding the right location, where such an environment could be created. We have created a master plan of the city of 2.5 million square meters which will enable people to focus on what they are supposed to focus on: innovation”, said Anton Lakovenko, CEO at LLC UDAS Skolkovo, responsible for the construction of Innocity.

Start-ups supported

Even after 2020, when Innocity is ready, the vast majority of Skolkovo partners will stay beyond its boundaries. The foundation supports these companies in many areas. One of the most visible ways are Technoparks, ‘inexpensive offices with access to expensive equipment’ as described by one of our interlocutors. Every Skolkovo partner also receives tax reliefs as well as migration visas and customs duty support.

Separate programs are provided for venture financing: “Each partner can apply for a grant from Skolkovo. This is not a loan which you would have to pay back to Skolkovo or transfer equity in your company for. It is money from government to promote innovation”, said Anna Nikina. Skolkovo approved 209 grants for RBL 9.5 billion. If the grant’s sources are not sufficient enough, 52 venture funds, including 21 international funds, are also part of the eco-system.

Andrey Sartori, Chief Technical Officer, is responsible for labs net functioning: “We have started a countrywide program of lab accreditation. We have more than 400 labs in Russia, but very few of them have a proper, client oriented attitude. This is their weakest point; even if they are equipped with modern technology. For our accreditation process, we have chosen numerous labs, we work with them to meet our requirements, including proper client service. This will enable Skolkovo partners to benefit from the program.”

International partners

One of the office buildings already build in Innocity, named Hypercube, houses Cisco’s office. In future, Cisco will concentrate all its operations in the state-of-the-art research center located in Innocity. Another one, build by Alstom and Transmasz Holding, will be ready in 2016. The list of international companies which announced to establish R&D centers in Skolkovo is long and impressive: Boeing, EADS, Ericsson, GE, Honeywell, Intel, Nokia or Nokia Solutions & Network are the most familiar to Evertiq’s readers. Samsung is also said to be interested in joining this impressive line-up.

“Why should people seriously think about establishing their offices and R&D centers here in Skolkovo?”, asks Anton Lakovenko. “Maybe because Skolkovo has the answer to most of the drawbacks that can be found here in Russia. For the first time we will have a quality environment with all necessary legal, fiscal and infrastructure problems solved.” In the future Innocity, the first few office buildings are already finished and several others, including the new Technopark facilities and the University, are growing fast. The construction of the main boulevard and train station are also under way.

“Skolkovo was established to support start-up projects. It is not really crucial, which country the project comes from, but it is important that the project includes R&D development in Russia. For example, when Intel started its research project with us, the first step was to establish a connection with a Russian project partner. It is a formal requirement to have a Russian entity established and Russian people involved in the team”, explains Albert Efimov, Project Director IT Cluster.

“After that, the application process starts and approximately 2-3 out of 10 projects are accepted. Our experts panel evaluates each project against three main criteria – technology innovation, commercialization & potential and feasibility”, he adds. “The next step could be the application for grant financing, but the criteria for that are much more restrictive. Here only 2 out of 10 project are granted funding through Skolkovo.”

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PostHeaderIcon CML expands its “embedded” PCB facility

s.m.a.r.t., which is the name of CML’s PCB service facility in China, started operation in Sep. 2008 with a production area of 1’200 m2. Five years later, its time for an expansion.
Five years after the inauguration its “embedded” PCB service favility in China, the floor space has been extended by 50% up to 1’800 m2.

s.m.a.r.t. increased its capacity in the drilling and routing department.

One additional 4-spindle router and one additional 2-spindle drilling machine complements the mechanical department.

The Monolam press for multilayer sample production found a new room, and a dedicated cool storage (20m2) for soldermask, films, and dryfilm was designed.

The prepreg is stored separately in a temperature and humidity controlled storage facility of 8 m2.

“CML is the only global PCB provider having a complete and dedicated PCB facility (s.m.a.r.t.) embedded on one floor of one of their production partners. Under German management the cradle to grave idea for a successful project life cycle can’t be better supported than by such a strategy,” the company writes in a press release.

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PostHeaderIcon What happens if the US Congress can’t find an agreement?

If the Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, what will happen? Will be see an economic crisis worse than the one of 2008; will it be worse? Whatever the case may be, it will affect us all.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury is now waring about the possible affects a impasse might have.

“In the event that a debt limit impasse were to lead to a default, it could have a catastrophic effect on not just financial markets but also on job creation, consumer spending and economic growth—with many private-sector analysts believing that it would lead to events of the magnitude of late 2008 or worse, and the result then was a recession more severe than any seen since the Great Depression. Considering the experience of countries around that world that have defaulted on their debt, not only might the economic consequences of default be profound, those consequences, including high interest rates, reduced investment, higher debt payments, and slow economic growth, could last for more than a generation”

The only thing we can do right now, is wait and see.

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