Reliability and Harmonization of Global Standards at Forefront of EIPC Efforts
At IPC APEX EXPO 2015, I caught up with EIPC’s Michael Weinhold and Alun Morgan for a discussion on both recent and ongoing focuses for EIPC, and the importance of the alignment of global standardization processes, especially for Asia.
Pete Starkey: I'm here with two gentlemen from the European Institute of Printed Circuits Technical Director Michael Weinhold, and Chairman Alun Morgan.
Alun, can you get us started by describing the successes of recent times since you joined EIPC? You had a conference recently. What was the outcome of the conference?
Alun Morgan: Yes, we had a very successful conference in Munich at the beginning of February. In fact, that marks the fifth event that we've had this year, so we've carried out four workshops and one conference in the space of the first, say, five weeks of the year. That’s pretty encouraging. The conference was in Munich. We attracted nearly 90 delegates from 11 different countries to attend. We usually find the conferences work very well when we have a good agenda, which means we have good technical presentations. We have an accessible venue, which Munich certainly was. And third we have a good attraction. We were able to organize a visit to the Eurofighter production line in Manching, courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space, which I was very pleased they agreed to. I think those three things came together and gave us a very exciting conference.
Highlights include a session on reliability, which was very well reviewed and commented upon, and we will certainly run a road show of workshops on reliability. So we'll bring together some of the key speakers from the events and we'll run those out into the next few months where we hope to attract a lot of interest.
The other item we covered in some detail was signal integrity, which is becoming more and more important in many applications. We had a very nice overview of that, including an aspect from a chemical supplier, who has proposed a new treatment for the oxide side of copper. We know very well what the profile of copper does to signal integrity. Then we got another view that we haven't really had in the last couple of years that really made it nice and rounded. So now we have a very nice view from the people like Polar Instruments, who provide the test equipment, from the board shops, the fabricators, from chemistry supplies and for laminate suppliers.
All in all, a great package that we can also road show as a training workshop. So I think we'll certainly roll that out in the next few months. We're looking forward now to SMT in May which will be in Nuremberg, where again I've been invited to deliver a keynote speech in the PCB forum. And then our next conference in June will be in Berlin.
Starkey: May I ask you what will be the topic of your keynote speech?
Morgan: I haven't quite finalized that yet. It might well be on the reliability topic, and I think it probably will be. I think of all the topics we've discussed in the last several years I'd have to say, this has become more and more important, and Europe is really a place where reliability is discussed day by day, hour by hour and it's really in the life blood of what we do in Europe. We have so many areas.
For example, when we think of the Swiss manufacturers, Swiss quality comes to mind, especially with reliability and medical devices. We think of defence and space, aeronautics. This morning we've been discussing with the European Space Agency and with guys from Airbus, again, on reliability and how that can be more built into the process. So I think the liability is a topic that we have as a very strong thread through what we do in Europe. So I think we'll probably focus more on that, and I think that will be something that will be interesting for people to listen to and something we can use to really differentiate our facilities and our production in Europe for the future.
Starkey: Michael, could I ask you what you believe should be the theme of the next EIPC conference, in addition to what Alun has already suggested?
Michael Weinhold: Well I think we have to bring the standardization process in line with the global requirements, and the EIPC is very much supportive in selling IPC standards. But on the international basis, the IEC standards and the UL standards are more related to safety standards, while the IPC standards more related to manufacturing standards. So the objective should be in the years to come, and also for my visit here in the United States at IPC meetings are the harmonization of the IPC requirements, which we have in Europe, and the safety requirements with the IEC requirements that we have to fulfill in Europe.
Starkey: To what extent, Michael, are standards controlled by the Western world? And to what extent are the Asian authorities beginning to impose their beliefs and their priorities on the next generation of standards?
Weinhold: Well, I think this is a very valid question, and we have seen this this morning when we were discussing the 4101, the laminate standards. Some concessions have to be made in the English language because certain words could not be translated into Chinese language, or could be misleading in Chinese language. So we have to understand that even if the standards are written here in the Western world, we have to consider the capability, or the ability to translate the standards into Chinese. Chinese represent approximately, at the moment, more than 40% of the global market, and therefore it is important. So we have to make sure that the standards are consistent, with IPC standards that they are harmonized with the IEC and the UL standards and at the same time that they are understandable in different languages, not only in English.
Starkey: But will it still be IPC and IEC that will set the lead with the standards, provided they are in harmony with the standards of China, Japan, Taiwan, etc.?
Weinhold: Well I think we have to go back a few years. The IEC standards were built around the national standards from Britain, Germany, and other countries. Then in the late 70s, IPC got involved and Dieter Bergman did an outstanding job at harmonizing the IEC and the IPC standards over many years. Now, we don't see this kind of harmonization any more, and it could lead to the point where these standards are drifting away from each other, which is not good for the industry in general. So new standards, for example IEC standards, are proposed by the Asian countries which represent approximately 90% of the global PCBs that are manufactured. So, we could easily lose leadership if we don't make an effort to harmonize these standards.
Starkey: I understand. Thank you, Michael. Alun, you have another EIPC conference coming up in the summer. Where will this be, and what will be the main focus?
Morgan: It will be in June in Berlin, I believe the 18th and 19th of June. We've organized a visit to the Fraunhofer Institute's new laboratory, which Michael visited in December last year. It is very impressive and has been totally rebuilt.
Starkey: This is where a lot of innovations originated, particularly in embedded component technology.
Morgan: Absolutely. Professor Lang has been really instrumental in bringing these advancements on. And they have really an extremely comprehensive laboratory there, especially in terms of signal integrity testing, which is another theme that we're very interested in following. So I think we will certainly have that as a major theme. We chose Berlin for two primary reasons. One, it's easily accessible. It's also in Germany, which is where, say, 47% of the PCBs in Europe are made, so this is a good location for the local market. And secondly, we were able to get the visit with Fraunhofer, which is going to mean so much to our organization and to our industry over the years. It's brought many, many projects out of the research laboratories into really practical applications, and I think that's something we should be very grateful for.
Starkey: Alun and Michael, it's been nice to talk to you. Thank you very much indeed for your time. Have an enjoyable show and have a successful next EIPC conference.
Video from EIPC Winter Conference, Munich 2015