The Long-Range Objectives and Programmes of IPC
by Denny McGuirk
Nov 19, 2002
Like all successful organisations, IPC needs a plan in order to achieve its goals. In March of this year, the IPC Board of Directors gathered in California to develop our long-range strategy. Here’s a brief look at what IPC plans to accomplish, along with several other initiatives that are under way.
IPC’s long-range plan has four major objectives:
Establish IPC as a recognized global association for the electronics interconnection industry.
Strengthen IPC’s position as the industry’s worldwide standards-setting organisation. Expand the reach of IPC to all membership segments.
Expand IPC’s global data collection, analysis and dissemination process.
The first step in the association becoming more global is to establish an IPC presence outside of the U.S. The first, and maybe the most intriguing strategy, is to establish an IPC office in China. In March, I traveled to Shanghai to meet with potential candidates and investigate a location for an IPC office. During this brief period, we learned a lot about doing business in China.
Establishing an office in China will provide several opportunities for IPC and all of our members. Most importantly, IPC expects to widen the reach and use of IPC standards, ensuring the manufacturers and customers are using consistent standards, thus “levelling the playing field.” IPC also hopes to gain an increased understanding of Asian business practices and technology developments, and serve as the basis for global technology transfer. Members outside China should benefit from increased opportunities and better access to Chinese and Asian markets and information.
The Board also approved the establishment of offices in other areas of the world, but only after gaining some experience in China. Strengthening IPC’s relationship with overseas associations through the World Electronics Circuits Council (WECC) will also enhance global recognition. Formed in 1998, IPC holds the Secretary General position on the 10-member council. IPC plans to work within WECC to simplify statistical gathering, cooperate with the exchange of speakers and information, and continue to invite new printed circuit associations to join WECC.
Other ways for IPC to improve global access to IPC programmes include developing more web-based seminars and web-based collaboration on standards, and having additional conferences and meetings in Asia, as well as in Europe.
The second set of approved strategies supports objective two that is to strengthen IPC’s position as the industry’s worldwide standards-setting organisation. These strategies call for IPC to increase the use of IPC standards on a global basis by increased emphasis on translation into other languages, targeted marketing for global licenses, and supporting standards customisation efforts for specific industries. Other strategies include reducing standards development time, publishing more standards and documents on leading-edge technology, and increasing participation in standards committees.
The third objective calls for IPC to reach more membership segments and to better support current membership areas. Approved strategies include engaging leaders of key OEM, PCB, EMS companies and their suppliers to demonstrate support of IPC programmes with an endorsement advertising campaign, as well as specific programmes for leaders of “top-tier” EMS companies. IPC will explore programmes for related market segments such as the new Solder Products Value Council and the Photonics Manufacturers’ Association Council. Also under consideration is the creation of a government relation's advisory council in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, Calif.
The final objective, gathering accurate and timely industry data, will be addressed by working with overseas organisations, using any established IPC non-U.S. offices for data collection and continuing to provide information through the IPC Technology Market Research Council (TMRC). The TMRC collects market and technical data and provides analyses on the U.S. and global PWB manufacturing industry and the IPC Balance Sheet, IPC’s on-line management newsletter for the electronic executive. Plans call for a TMRC-like meeting in Europe as early as 2003 and Asia in 2004.
Now that I have explained where we are going, I want to take a moment to talk about some of IPC’s new and exciting membership programmes.
IPC Photonics Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) Council
Photonics has enormous implications for the electronics manufacturing industry. Already a major player in imaging and microvia technology, the photon itself is fast becoming the critical, information-carrying unit in telecommunication products and other applications.
With growing industry interest in standardisation, companies from several industry segments, including OEMs, component suppliers, production equipment manufacturers and service providers, were searching for an association to assist in coordinating their efforts. This group has now formed the Photonics Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) Council within IPC.
Randy Heyler, the PMA Council Steering Committee Chairman and Newport Corporation’s Vice-President of Business Development, told me why the Photonics industry chose to organise the PMA Council within IPC. This is because they could immediately access a well-established industry trade association infrastructure, that provides the combination of an official standards body, along with other important industry trade association activities, such as market measurement and legislative contacts, enabling the PMA Council to rapidly address their priorities across several fronts.
The mission of the Photonics Manufacturers’ Association (PMA) is to further the competitive excellence and financial success of suppliers to the photonics industry and their customers. The PMA will initiate and drive an agenda of road-mapping, standardisation, and other focused efforts, such as legislation, market measurement, and education that will enhance supplier efficiency to the photonics industry and their customers.
IPC Solder Products Value Council
In February 2002, solder supply companies created the IPC Solder Products Value Council, a new management tool for the leadership of the global solder manufacturing industry. The new council was established with the goal of creating programmes to benefit both solder manufacturers and their customers.
The Council is divided into four subcommittees: market research, lead-free, cooperative buying and industry awareness.
The Council’s market research subcommittee, led by David Thorp, of Kester Solder, plans to launch a statistical programme for solder manufacturers this year. Karl Seelig, AIM’s Vice-President of Technology and Chairman of the Lead-free Sub-Committee, has the task of resolving the confusion regarding alloy choice and achieving a worldwide consensus.
Chairman of the Cooperative Buying Sub-Committee Rick Short, Induim, will explore cooperative buying efforts for solder manufacturers. Finally, Peter Palmer, Alpha Metals, and Chairman of the Industry Awareness Sub-Committee, intends to investigate programs like Web-based Electronic Data Interchange, a solder alloy database and TRI-environmental requirements.
The Future of R&D
One important issue that the global interconnect industry has yet to resolve is who will do the work - and pay for - the research and development (R&D) projects that will generate the next wave of technology that is so vital to producing new products and processes. IPC has looked into this and is exploring two initiatives designed to meet this industry need: the IPC PCB Technology Advisory Board (PTAB) and the Electronic Interconnection Centre of Excellence.
IPC is now in the process of launching the PCB Technology Advisory Board. The PTAB came about because of IPC’s past involvement in industry research. Industry R&D activity shifted to ITRI in the 1990’s, but with ITRI’s closure in 2001, IPC believes it is the natural place for industry members to turn to if they need assistance with consortia activity. Having the board in place will ensure projects undertaken are based on sound science and that members can help steer projects into the most productive areas.
Functions of the PTAB are:
Serve as a sounding board for research/development projects cooperatively undertaken by IPC members.
Provide scientific oversight for development/test programmes that are underway.
Make recommendations to IPC to seek funding to assist industry research and development.
Review and provide direction to university research projects.
Anyone interested in becoming a PTAB member should contact David Bergman at DavidBergman@ipc.org.
Electronic Interconnection Centre of Excellence
On May 9, 2002, the House of Representatives provided a big boost to one of IPC’s top government relations priorities this year: the establishment of an Electronic Interconnection Research and Development program within the Department of the Navy at the Surface Warfare Center Division (NAVSWC), Crane, Ind.
The House approved the fiscal year 2003 National Defense Authorisation Act that includes $3 million targeted for establishing the Centre.
IPC’s partnership with NAVSWC Crane will strengthen the abilities of both the Department of Defense (DoD) and the U.S. Printed Circuit Board industry to support the military’s printed circuit board requirements through an integrated programme of research, education, and industrial extension.
To modernise its PCB manufacturing capability, Crane intends to build a new facility in 2004 and plans to set up a technology centre within the new facility to assist research and development in the electronic interconnect industry.
IPC recently proposed creating the Embedded Passive Manufacturing R&D Test Bed (EPMRDTB) at the Interconnection Center for developing and evaluating various methods and processes for manufacturing PCBs with buried passives.
To meet these goals, IPC will engage both the PCB manufacturers and suppliers to donate time, talent and materials to ensure this program’s success. In August, we plan to meet with NAVSWC Crane and key industry suppliers of this technology and PCB manufacturers to develop an implementation timeline and a list of required resources needed to ensure the program’s success.
As a trade association, IPC serves the industry on a global basis. Our mission statement states that we are dedicated “to furthering the competitive excellence and financial success of our members worldwide.”
Creation of IPC/CAT Inc. PCQR2 database
A request was voiced at an IPC PCB Presidents meeting to develop and maintain a database of PCB supplier capabilities. This would allow a company to ensure a supplier’s capability is consistent with the needs of its customers.
To answer this request, IPC teamed with Conductor Analysis Technologies (CAT, Inc.) to establish and sustain a family of process capability panel designs utilising CAT technology and formed the Printed Board Process Capability, Quality, and Relative Reliability Database (PCQR2) subcommittee in July 2001.
The database provides quantitative data on manufacturing capability, quality, and relative reliability while allowing for a more convenient means to compare and contrast the capability, quality, and relative reliability of participating board manufacturers.
Because there are a limited number of standardised designs, manufacturers have fewer designs to manufacture, simplifying supplier management procedures. Results from the analysis of process capability panels from CAT provide quantitative data that is used to measure, track, and improve processes. The data uncovers strengths and weaknesses of processes, and indicates areas requiring improvement or development.
With interest from the customer and the fabricator, IPC realised we had a role to play in this project. We established a committee (D-36), chaired by Dave Wolf, CAT, Inc., with the mission of standardizing test vehicles. Currently, 16 test vehicles are in place.
In order to share costs, a subscription service was established. Customer subscriptions allow access to the database and go toward reducing the test costs to the PCB manufacturers. The PCB manufacturers will benefit by having their capability data available to potential new customers. Our goal now is to grow the database and the subscriber base and generate PCQR2 data for flexible and high frequency circuits. I recommend readers visit our Website at http://www.pcbquality.com/ for more detailed information.
Data Transfer Format Convergence Project
IPC believes the interconnect industry must develop one intelligent standard for transferring design requirements and manufacturing expectations from computer-aided design systems to computer-aided manufacturing systems for printed board fabrication, assembly, and testing.
IPC now supports development of a converged data transfer format that uses the best of both formats. Dana Korf, Sanmina-SCI and Henry Jurgens, Celestica, will co-chair the effort to develop the new standard, using ODB++X as the foundation. We are now actively seeking members to staff IPC Committee 2-17 that meets in bi-weekly teleconferences each Wednesday.
The first face-to-face meeting for this committee was held in Dallas in May. This meeting was a thorough review of the ODB++X structure in order to allow tool providers an opportunity to increase their understanding of the format. The meeting discussed what portions of ODB++X should be included in the new standard, which items might change, and which parts of GenCAM should be listed for inclusion.
For more information about the convergence, I suggest taking a look at two IPC Websites, http://webstds.ipc.org/ and http://www.gencam.org/.
IPC Printed Circuits Expo and APEX Co-Location in 2005
For several years, IPC Printed Circuits ExpoÒ and IPC SMEMA Council APEXâ have served as separate venues for the PCB and EMS industries. Each event is very successful in meeting the needs of its attendees and exhibitors. However, in February 2002, a “blue-ribbon” committee agreed to co-locate Expo and APEX as early as March 2005 at the Anaheim Convention Center. We believe co-location will take advantage of the many common interests attendees in these two industries have and will provide an even stronger and more valuable return on time and money spent. The shows will have separate technical conferences, standards development forums and working meetings and continuing education courses.
However, they will share the same opening and closing times, a major keynote speaker and a combined show-floor reception with separate areas for the printed circuit board industry and the assembly industry.
The difficult economic times of the past year present challenges that IPC will strive to meet. Better cooperation with overseas associations through WECC will provide benefits to members throughout the world.
In the years to come, you’ll see added value as IPC data collection efforts are strengthened and more resources are made available. Industry companies will find a more level playing field with more companies using and contributing to the same standards. With the participation of large and small companies, we hope to be of service where and when our members need it.
IPC is prepared to continue to provide the quality leadership, technical expertise, and professional development it has for nearly 50 years. We look forward to serving as your industry spokesman.
Denny McGuirk IPC President