EMSNOW Mexico: SMTA Chapter in Ciudad Juarez

EMSNOW Mexico: SMTA Chapter in Ciudad Juarez

Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua has the second highest number of SMT lines installed in Mexico. It has boasted a local SMTA Chapter for four years, which is supported by a very well balanced team of Users, Suppliers, Academic people and R&D Specialists, with a focused vision to create a very strong foundation in SMT knowledge. The chapter aims to educate the best prepared SMT Technicians and SMT Engineers in this industry. Currently there are 50 SMT companies in Juarez, with more than 220 SMT lines already installed.

After many years without educational programs related to Surface Mount Technology in the universities, three years ago the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ) with encouragement from the SMTA chapter, introduced an SMT Fundamentals program to their Engineering curricula. This same subject was included last year also by the Instituto Tecnologico de Ciudad Juarez (ITCJ) and this same school added the subject to the Mechatronic Engineering program.

It is important to underline that this is the first time that SMT ever was included in a specialization program in the university curricula in Mexico and it was possible thanks to the effort of an experienced team in the electronics field.

Simultaneously, our Juarez Chapter in conjunction with Artificial Intelligence Center (IA Center)  and the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez (UACJ) created a 125 hour SMT Specialization course, known in Mexico as “Diplomado”, focused on standardizing the knowledge of SMT Technicians and SMT Junior Engineers.  

A team of close to 15 members of the Juarez Chapter, most of them Process Engineers and Managers of local SMT companies, worked together in different brain storming sessions over nearly a year to identify the key technical topics and put them in order, divided into five modules of 25 hours each.

Once completed, the Diplomado proposal was presented to the UACJ and to the Secretaria de Educacion Publica (SEP / Federal Public Education Department) for their approval, which happened at the end of 2021 and the program was kicked off early last February, with the attendance of 27 pupils (SMT Technicians and SMT Junior Engineers) from five different local SMT Companies.

EMSNOW caught up with Victor Maderon, President of the SMTA Juarez Chapter to find out more.

EMSNOW: Please tell us about your background and SMTA Juarez Chapter and how you came to get involved in this project.

SMTA Chapter Juarez Began back in 2018 as a second edition, if the people make memories the first SMTA Chapter in Mexico Began in Juarez back in 2000 about. Since the second edition, myself and the rest of the team are focused on education. We have the vision of this high demand than the industry is having now, but my role on SMTA was first as a Technical and Educational VP, and now my new role as a President since 2020.

EMSNOW: Tell us about the electronics manufacturing business in Juarez. What companies are operating there?

As I mentioned to you before we did recognize this since 2018, this big expansion the region are having now, and the lack of personal with the experience on the area, this is why our educational program is the world leader on SMTA industries, the main companies  in the region are Mack Technologies, Keytronics,  Foxconn, Neo Tech (formerly Epic), Flex, Bosh, Continental (Vitesco), Digital concepts, Jabil, Emerson, Visteon, SMTC, APTIV (fromerly Delphi), Stoneridge, to mentioned some to you

EMSNOW: What industries are primarily represented in that region?

We Find a huge industries on telecommunication, as well consumer electronics and automotive industries is growing a lot on the area too.

EMSNOW: The SMTA Chapter in Juarez is quite active. Please tell us more about your involvement as Chapter President.

Since our mission as a chapter has been always to increase the engineering skill level of the region, most of our activities are related to this goal. We now have a degree program in a local university (UACJ), and at the ITCJ school, we are working on getting a specialization in SMT; other schools like UTCJ and Cenaltec offer technical subjects related to SMT, and we have been able to have spaces for SMT training centers at the universities than I mentioned to you now. With the cooperation of the IPN, CITTA, local university, state and federal government, CIITA bought a SMT line for training at the new installations.

EMSNOW: Please tell us more about the new diploma program and SMT specialized classes in the University curricula.

This degree was designed to deliver basic knowledge to future engineers, in order to spark their interest in this area and have a basic knowledge when they get exposed to the industry.

The diploma than we have at CIITA, was designed to deliver the principles to SMT on new people on the industry than have never been exposed to this industry, and has now been expanded to fill the gap between industries needing new engineers and the training process for a new engineer to get specialized SMT knowledge.

EMSNOW: Please explain the importance of increasing the number of people that have skills in SMT in Mexico.

Now is a good time for Mexico PCBA manufacturing since external factors are bringing back production to Mexico; the demand for well-trained people in the industry is high, and our goal is to fill this gap with well-trained people and help the industry by allowing them to focus on manufacturing rather than training.

EMSNOW: What are the major trends in EMS in that region? How has the SMTA Chapter Juarez and customers dealt with disruptions from semiconductor shortages and the pandemic?

Since the pandemic hit us there is a global disruption of supply chains in all industries, so of course PCBA manufacturers are exposed to this situation. One of the key factors for this was the practice of Just in Time (JIT) strategies that have bred a culture of low stock inventory. Companies that didn’t practices JIT were affected less than companies that did so.  But unfortunately most of the companies use JIT because it saved money. Our data indicate that companies could be producing more than they are because of these shortages; but we know that forecasts for after the shortages improve are very positive because of growth in the number of SMT lines moving to the area.

EMSNOW: Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?

During a recent SMTA Leadership forum in Denver, our chapter was making a big impact globally, thanks to our educational program; we will share knowledge as well as this methodology with the world. We also plan to create an alliance with other SMTA MEXICO Chapters (GDL and QTO) in order to help them implement this education program in their areas. This means a lot of work but we are more than happy to help. We can position Mexico as having a very skilled workforce for EMS companies.

Even more importantly, and this is usually the most important resource for any SMTA chapter, is the people involved on this project, all of them are leaders and even some of us are competitors on the industry but we have the same goal. It proves that when you combine all your resources and everyone is working toward the same goal, you get extremely good results and our people are the best.

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