PCB Laminate Availability - July 2017

Thatcham, UK - earlier this year we saw how global copper prices have increased.  Over the 12 months to July 2017, the continued use of copper in emerging technologies such as lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles, tablets and mobile phones.

As detailed in the chart below, copper prices were relatively stable to October 2016, the price then jumped in November 2016 by 19% ($5,871 m/tonne), increasing in January 2017 by 23% to ($5,999 m/tonne) over October 2016 prices.  Since January the price has remained relatively stable increasing by a net 0.41%.

Copper Prices - 12 Months to Jul 2017 ($/m tonne)

In October 2016 EMS reported that;

"The demand is leading to a potential limitation of copper foil supply with some manufacturers reporting problems with obtaining copper foil to fulfil orders.  As this continues there is a risk this will lead to further price increases before copper supply increases to meet the new demand."

http://www.emsolutions.uk.com/news/2016/11/25/laminate-availability

At the time EMS was not aware of any impacts to the supply chain, in March 2017 suppliers started to report occurrences of problems relating to the availability of PCB laminate.  Ventec, one of the worlds leading suppliers of PCB laminate advised;

“The copper foil shortage has resulted in approximately 2.8M sheets per month of Copper clad laminate global material shortage. This is approximately 2X the total rigid demand of USA and Europe combined. We expect the situation to last at least until the middle / end of 2018.”

Impact to Customers

The impact to customers could include;

  • Availability of material, as above. 1.6mm 35um (1oz) is common, but could be effected, beyond this all other material types could become problematic.
  • Prices and lead times could increase as material availabilty reduces.
  • Payment terms could be change where PCB manufacturers have had to pay up front for material.  EMS will attempt to mitigate the impact of this for our customers.

Impact on PCB Manufacturers

Larger PCB suppliers will be able to invest in stock of laminate to reduce the impact, whilst smaller manufacturers may struggle to obtain material ongoing.  As the situation develops all PCB manufacturers, around the world, could experience problems.

The most common laminate, 1.6mm 35um (1oz) is likely to be the easiest to obtain, with all other material likely to become harder to source.

Time Fame

As detailed in the quote from Ventec, and advised by other sources, the impact on the availability of PCB laminate could last until at least the middle/end of 2018.

As of July 2017, EMS is has not experienced any serious problems relating to laminate shortages.

Solutions

EMS can help you to manage the impact of this on your supply chain by considering;

  • Stock holding, but this is limited by the recommended PCB shelf life.
  • Scheduled orders, with suppliers guaranteeing to secure stock to fulfil the order.
  • Planning demand and usage with lead times well ahead of the traditional lead times, by taking a cautious approach to the availability.

 

If you have any questions concerning the material availability or how EMS can help you to minimise the impact then please contact EMS today.

ST Microelectronics - MCU Availability

Thatcham, UK - EMS has today been advised, via UK franchised distributor of ST Microelectronics, that;

"ST will officially close their books on order entry for microcontroller deliveries for 2017 at the end of July. They have confirmed that those who have firm orders placed before 30th July will receive some stock around Q4/ Q1-18.

But P/O’s placed after July 30th will get no confirmation of delivery date and will be unlikely to get stock until June next year. We will not be able to ask to pull in stock or help to improve with delivery.

This has been caused by ST booking a massive order from a customer which will push their order book production capacity to over 120% .

It is therefore imperative that backlog for Q3 / Q4 is in position for these customers by July 31 or there is no hope of delivery this year."

EMS has been advised that this only relates to the microcontroller parts, for example components with the prefix STM.

At the time of writing there are no details on whether any other manufacturers will follow the same path, however;

  • As there is likely to be high demand for ST Microelectronics parts in the short term.
  • Leading to medium to long term availability and delays.

Then there will start to be a change over to drop in or re-design replacements which could apply lead time pressure to a range of manufacturers.

Counterfeit Risk

This decision by ST Microelectronics also means, that as lead times increase on the key lines, opportunities will appear for counterfeit components to enter the marketplace.  

Extreme caution should be applied when dealing with unknown or grey market suppliers offering stock in such situations.

How EMS Can Help

If your products include ST Microelectronics then you need to take action today!  

EMS can support you by putting in place call-off or buffer stock arrangements to secure order coverage for late 2017 and early 2018.  With stock held at EMS and/or distributors, ring fenced, for you.

EMS is currently reviewing all ST Microelectronics components with STM prefixes and contacting customers where applicable.

If you think EMS can help, or you have any questions, then please contact EMS today!

Investment in IPC J-STD-001 Training

Thatcham, UK – Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS), announced today the successful completion by five members of the PCB assembly team as being newly trained to IPC-J-STD-001 (Requirements for Soldered Electrical and Electronic Assemblies).

IPC standards provide customers with a clear benchmark for acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, broken down into classes.  As standard EMS produces all assemblies to Class II, with Class III available on demand to suit customer requirements.

The five PCB team members were trained as Certified IPC Specialists, provided via STEM Training by Paul Pidgeon.  The course runs over four days covering;

  • 2.5 days of theory and and qualification tests.
  • 1.5 days of practical qualification tests covering;
    • Wire & terminal assembly.
    • Through hole (PTH/THT) assembly.
    • Surface mount (SMT) hand assembly.
    • Inspection skills.

All members of the team enjoyed the training and Paul's fun relaxed approach to the process.

The qualification attained by the team members enhance and develop their individual skills and allow EMS to confirm J-STD-001 assembly where required.  The investment again proves EMS' commitment to our future development.

EMS would like to thank Paul for the training and congratulate all of the team members for completing the course successfully.

PCB Laminate Availability - March 2017

Thatcham, UK - over the 12 months to March 2017, global copper prices have increased due to increasing demand, driven by the use of copper in lithium ion batteries used in electric vehicles, tablets and mobile phones.

As detailed in the chart below, copper prices were relatively stable to October 2016, the price then jumped in November 2016 by 19% ($5,871 m/tonne), increasing in January 2017 to 23% ($5,999 m/tonne) over October 2016 prices.

Copper Prices - 12 Months to Mar 2017 ($/m tonne)

In October 2016 EMS reported that;

"The demand is leading to a potential limitation of copper foil supply with some manufacturers reporting problems with obtaining copper foil to fulfil orders.  As this continues there is a risk this will lead to further price increases before copper supply increases to meet the new demand."

http://www.emsolutions.uk.com/news/2016/11/25/laminate-availability

At the time EMS was not aware of any impacts to the supply chain, however as of March 2017 suppliers are now reporting occurrences of problems relating to the availability of PCB laminate.  Ventec, one of the worlds leading suppliers of PCB laminate has advised;

“The copper foil shortage has resulted in approximately 2.8M sheets per month of Copper clad laminate global material shortage. This is approximately 2X the total rigid demand of USA and Europe combined. We expect the situation to last at least until the middle / end of 2018.”

Impact to Customers

The impact to customers could include;

  • Availability of material, as above. 1.6mm 35um (1oz) is common, but could be effected, beyond this all other material types could become problematic.
  • Prices and lead times could increase as material availabilty reduces.
  • Payment terms could be change where PCB manufacturers have had to pay up front for material.  EMS will attempt to mitigate the impact of this for our customers.

Impact on PCB Manufacturers

Larger PCB suppliers will be able to invest in stock of laminate to reduce the impact, whilst smaller manufacturers may struggle to obtain material ongoing.  As the situation develops all PCB manufacturers, around the world, could experience problems.

The most common laminate, 1.6mm 35um (1oz) is likely to be the easiest to obtain, with all other material likely to become harder to source.

Time Fame

As detailed in the quote from Ventec, and advised by other sources, the impact on the availability of PCB laminate could last until at least the middle/end of 2018.

Solutions

EMS can help you to manage the impact of this on your supply chain by considering;

  • Stock holding, but this is limited by the recommended PCB shelf life.
  • Scheduled orders, with suppliers guaranteeing to secure stock to fulfil the order.
  • Planning demand and usage with lead times well ahead of the traditional lead times, by taking a cautious approach to the availability.

 

If you have any questions concerning the material availability or how EMS can help you to minimise the impact then please contact EMS today.

Expansion of IPC-A-610 Training

Thatcham, UK – Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS), announced today the successful completion of the four members of the PCB assembly team being newly trained to IPC-A-610 (Acceptability of Electronics Assemblies).

IPC standards provide customers with a clear benchmark for acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, broken down into classes.  As standard EMS produces all assemblies to Class II, with Class III available on demand to suit customer requirements.

The four PCB team members were trained as Certified IPC Specialists, provided via STEM Training by Paul Pidgeon.  All members of the team enjoyed the training and Paul's fun relaxed approach to the process.

EMS would like to thank Paul for the training and congratulate all of the team members for completing the course successfully.

Chinese New Year 2017

Thatcham, UK - the Chinese New Year in 2017 official beings on Saturday 28th January, ending the current year of the Goat and starting the year of the Rooster.

For the electronics industry the Chinese New Year means factory shutdowns for PCBs, and other components.  Depending on location these shutdowns can last from one to two weeks.

Due to the demand that this can cause before and after the shutdown, the real impact can actually last for up to six weeks;

  • Two weeks before the holiday.
  • Up to two weeks during the holiday.
  • At least two weeks after the holiday, possibly longer in some cases.

EMS notifies customers of these upcoming holidays weeks and months in advance so that plans can be put in place to alleviate the impact of the Chinese New Year holiday.

Of course not all customers/companies have the luxury of knowing their sales weeks or months in advance, whilst also managing stock or budgetary targets.

EMS would recommend, to all customers that, where possible, PCB orders or possible long lead time components manufactured in China, are ordered well in advance of the Chinese New Year shutdown.  However where this is not possible or feasible, for example sudden spikes in demand or quick turn assemblies then EMS will assist by;

  • Working with our existing suppliers, to leverage our relationships to satisfy demand ASAP.
  • Resource, where possible, with minimal cost impact the required PCBs or components from alternative suppliers.

Do not delay, plan for the Chinese New Year and its potential impact on your supply chain today!  Contact EMS today!

Happy New Year

Thatcham, UK - Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS) would like to wish all of our employees, customers and their families a Happy New Year 2017.

2016 was a fantastic year for EMS with excellent growth, investment and development and we are all looking forward to 2017 building upon this.

Happy New Year.

30 Working Days to Chinese New Year 2017

Thatcham, UK - there are now only 30 working days before Chinese New Year 2017.  

By Tuesday 3rd January, the first official day of work in England, in 2017, only 18 working days will remain.

The impact of Chinese New Year on component supply, most directly noticeable on PCB supply, can last for up to six weeks, before, during and after the holiday.

Getting your orders placed in December or very early January can offset this and ensure continuity of supply.

If this is not possible EMS can help to resource components, especially PCBs, from locations which are not directly affected by the Chinese New Year.  But the global demand due to Chinese New Year could lead to these alternative sources being overwhelmed.

Do not delay, contact EMS today.

Christmas Shutdown 2016

Thatcham, UK - Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS), announced today their Christmas shutdown period, for Christmas 2016;

  • The last shipments will be made on Thursday 22nd of December, resuming Tuesday 3rd January.
  • EMS will be closed from the afternoon of Friday 23rd December, we will re-open on Tuesday 3rd January.

Merry Christmas from everyone at EMS.

50 Working Days to Chinese New Year 2017

Thatcham, UK - there are now only 50 working days before Chinese New Year 2017.  

The impact of Chinese New Year on component supply, most directly noticeable on PCB supply, can last for up to six weeks, before, during and after the holiday.

Getting your orders placed in November, December or very early January can offset this and ensure continuity of supply.

If this is not possible EMS can help to resource components, especially PCBs, from locations which are not directly affected by the Chinese New Year.  But due to the global demand and impact all suppliers lead times could increase.

Do not delay, contact EMS today.

RoHS 2 Directive (EU) 2015/863

Thatcham, UK – on the 4th June 2015 the EU commission issued Directive 2015/863 which amended Annex II of the RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU.

This amendment added four phthalates to the restricted substances list.  The full list in Annex II of Directive 2011/65/EU now contains 10 restricted substances;

  1. Lead (0.1 %)
  2. Mercury (0.1 %)
  3. Cadmium (0.01 %)
  4. Hexavalent chromium (0.1 %)
  5. Polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) (0.1 %)
  6. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) (0.1 %)
  7. Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) (0.1 %)
  8. Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) (0.1 %)
  9. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) (0.1 %)
  10. Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) (0.1 %)

Annex II of the EU Directive 2015/863 advises;

The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP shall apply to medical devices, including in vitro medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments, from 22 July 2021.

The restriction of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP shall not apply to cables or spare parts for the repair, the reuse, the updating of functionalities or upgrading of capacity of EEE placed on the market before 22 July 2019, and of medical devices, including in vitro medical devices, and monitoring and control instruments, including industrial monitoring and control instruments, placed on the market before 22 July 2021.
— http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32015L0863&from=EN

Phthalates are esters of pthhalic acid primarily used as a plasticiser in plastics to increase flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity.

In EMS' experience the majority of component suppliers already comply with this new directive. But this cannot be guaranteed across all components at this stage, particularly in relation to wire and cable products where the flexibility element of phthalates could have been applied. This is not to say that it is common across all wire or cable, simply a possibility.

EMS' statement concerning RoHS 2 and the Directive 2015/863 can be found on the RoHS page within our quality section;

 

EMS Assembles DR-QFN

Thatcham, UK – Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS), announced today the 100% successful yield of the assembly of a 148 pin Dual Row Quad Flat No lead (DR-QFN) package.

A DR-QFN This package is made up of two rows of pads on all four sides of the package, with pad dimensions of 0.22mm x 0.40mm (220um x 400um) - this package is an example of the constant development and pursuit of miniaturisation of devices as manufacturers and designers face pressure to produce smaller higher density products across a range of applications.

DR-QFN SMT Package

QFN packages are now relatively common place across a range of manufacturers and designs. However DR-QFN's are less common and require careful consideration and technical knowledge to ensure successful assembly.

  • The key to successfully assembling such devices starts with the quotation stage and the detailed assessment of the requirement by EMS' experienced quotation team.  Where we will make an assessment of customer demand, component packages and any specialist assembly requirements.
  • Following identification of the technical requirement, the appropriate tooling needs to be quoted, and where applicable explained to the customer.  In this case a nickel stencil was identified by EMS as a critical component for these devices.  A nickel stencil provides improved paste release and roll compared to stainless steel ensuring that small scale apertures and pads have optimal paste coverage.
  • Communication with the stencil manufacturer is the next key step, ensuring they understand the technical requirement and apply appropriate data adjustments.
  • Internal communication is also vital to success, EMS covers this via two key processes;
    • Contract Review - providing a centralised repository of data for review by Sales, Purchasing, Production and Engineering ensuring standard setup and special instructions are clear to all.
    • PCB & Stencil Approval - a process which compliments the Contract Review by providing specific PCB and Stencil details for each assembly, with approvals at each stage of the process to ensure all of the key requirements are documented and communicated to suppliers.

When all of these elements are brought together at the Production stage, the identification and communication of the initial stages yields 100% successful assembly of complex packages. 

EMS Launches New Website

Thatcham, UK - Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS),  announced today the launch of a brand new website, powered by Squarespace.  The market leader in website design and hosting services offering class leading infrastructure and design tools.

EMS' Managing Director Bernard Chubb said, "The investment in this new site is excellent news and is a huge step forward for EMS from our previous site design.  The new site represents EMS as we are today and the infrastructure provides EMS with control and development opportunities so that it can evolve as EMS grows."

"I am very pleased with the final design, the significant step change from the previous site, to provide EMS with a truly modern online presence.  Its in built dynamic design for desktops, tablets and mobiles is fantastic and exactly what a site should offer in 2016.  This provides an excellent basis to grow EMS' marketing.", said Jonathan Plummer, Technical Manager of EMS.

EMS IPC/WHMA-A-620 Refresh Complete

Thatcham, UK – Electronic Manufacturing Solutions Limited (EMS), announced today the successful completion of the cable team re-training to IPC/WHMA-A-620 (Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies).

IPC standards provide customers with a clear benchmark for acceptability of Electronic Assemblies, broken down into classes.  As standard EMS produces all assemblies to Class II, with Class III available on demand to suit customer requirements.

The cable team members were trained as Certified IPC Specialists, provided via STEM Training by Paul Pidgeon.  All members of the team enjoyed the training and Paul's fun relaxed approach to the process.

EMS would like to thank Paul for the training and congratulate all of the team members for completing the course successfully.