Trackwise Designs Puts Itself Up for Sale
TEWKESBURY, UK – Trackwise Designs has launched a sales process for its business after reviewing options for the company’s future. The move comes after the printed circuit fabricator lost a major customer.
In mid-July, Trackwise announced that after a year of working with a Tier 1 supplier on the opportunity to supply Cell Connection System flex circuit assemblies, Trackwise was informed by the customer that it had not been successful in securing the business.
The company had delayed release of its annual financial results twice this year, most recently in August, and the London Stock Exchange has suspended trading in the company’s shares due to the delay. In the same announcement announcing the delayed results, Trackwise said its board was reviewing options for the future of the company.
Trackwise said that parties with interest in the acquisition of the company should contact the corporate finance team at FRP Advisory Trading, and it reserves the right to alter any aspect of the sale process or to terminate it at any time, and in such cases will make an announcement as appropriate.
SIA: US Faces Tech Worker Shortage
WASHINGTON – The United States faces a significant shortage of technicians, computer scientists and engineers, with a projected shortfall of 67,000 of these workers in the semiconductor industry by 2030 and a gap of 1.4 million such workers throughout the broader US economy, according to a study released by the Semiconductor Industry Association in partnership with Oxford Economics.
The report, titled “Chipping Away: Assessing and Addressing the Labor Market Gap Facing the U.S. Semiconductor Industry,” also makes a set of policy recommendations to help close the talent gap and complement the workforce development initiatives that are already being carried out by semiconductor companies across the US.
“Semiconductor workers are the driving force behind growth and innovation in the chip industry and throughout the US economy,” said Matt Johnson, president and CEO of Silicon Labs and SIA board chair. “Effective government-industry collaboration can overcome the talent shortage facing our industry, build the strongest American tech workforce possible, and unleash the full potential of semiconductor innovation.”
With demand for semiconductors projected to increase significantly by 2030 and beyond, semiconductor companies are ramping up production and innovation to keep pace. Thanks in large part to enactment of the CHIPS and Science Act in 2022, a significant share of new chip manufacturing capacity and R&D is expected to be located in the US. As America’s semiconductor ecosystem expands in the years ahead, so too will its demand for semiconductor workers with the skills, training, and education needed in the highly innovative semiconductor industry.
The study projects the semiconductor industry’s workforce in the US will grow by nearly 115,000 jobs by 2030, from approximately 345,000 jobs today to approximately 460,000 jobs by the end of the decade. As noted, an estimated 67,000 of these jobs risk going unfilled in the absence of action to close the gap.
To meet this challenge and address the talent gap, the SIA-Oxford Economics study presents three core recommendations to strengthen the US technical workforce:
- Strengthen support for regional partnerships and programs aimed at growing the pipeline for skilled technicians for semiconductor manufacturing and other advanced manufacturing sectors
- Grow the domestic STEM pipeline for engineers and computer scientists vital to the semiconductor industry and other sectors that are critical to the future economy
- Retain and attract more international advanced degree students within the US economy.
“Our analysis showcases the critical high-skilled roles across the semiconductor sector and the likely skill shortages the industry will face, if proactive talent development measures are not taken,” said Dan Martin, senior economist and lead researcher, Oxford Economics. “The CHIPS Act set the stage for US long-run investment and increased global competitiveness in semiconductor design and production. Moving forward, tens of thousands of new post-secondary-trained workers will need to fill the roles created as the industry increases their productive capacity in the US.”
Of the total estimated semiconductor technical workforce gap of 67,000 by 2030, the study estimates approximately 39% of the gap (26,400 jobs) will be in technician occupations, 41% (27,300 jobs) in engineering occupations, and 20% (13,400 jobs) in computer science. Because semiconductors are foundational to virtually all critical technologies of today and the future, closing the talent gap in the chip industry will be central to the promotion of growth and innovation throughout the economy.
The US semiconductor industry has, for decades, engaged in programs to recruit, train, and employ a diverse and skilled workforce. Across the nation, chip firms have longstanding and expanding partnerships with community colleges and technical schools, apprenticeship programs, universities and laboratories, and regional education networks. As the industry grows to meet demand alongside CHIPS investments, companies are growing their workforce development footprint. At the same time, the US government must work with industry and academia to prioritize measures to address the skills gap facing the broader economy and the semiconductor industry.
“Along with making historic investments to reinvigorate domestic semiconductor production and innovation, the CHIPS and Science Act anticipated the need to strengthen the semiconductor workforce in America,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO, SIA. “We look forward to working with government leaders to advance policies that build on our industry’s longstanding workforce development efforts, expand the pipeline of STEM graduates in America, and retain and attract more of the top engineering students from around the world.”
China’s Victory Giant to Buy Singapore’s MFS Technology
HUIZHOU, CHINA – Victory Giant Technology has agreed to buy fellow PCB fabricator MFS Technology for up to $460 million.
Victory Giant will pay cash to acquire Pole Star Ltd. to indirectly own MFS Technology and all its subsidiaries, with equity value worth of about $365 million and debts worth up to $95 million, according to a filing by Victory Giant in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
Acquiring the target, which makes flexible printed circuits, will diversify products and improve competitiveness for Victory Giant, which is strong in making rigid printed circuit boards, the filing said.
Already a top 25 PCB fabricator in terms of revenue according to the NTI-100, Victory Giant will likely move into the top 20 worldwide after closing on the deal. Singapore-based MFS has three plants in Japan and one in Zhuhai, China.
Sanmina Keen on Building Indian Fab Facility
PALO ALTO, CA – Sanmina has reportedly expressed interest in building a PCB fabrication facility in the Indian state of Odisha after a delegation of the state’s officials visited the company in Silicon Valley.
According to India’s Kalinga TV, the Odisha delegation met with Sanmina CEO Jure Sola, senior vice president Sundar Kamath, senior vice president Michael Sparacino, and vice president Bill Pappani to give a detailed presentation on Odisha’s industrial ecosystem to the company’s officials and brief them on the various incentives available under Odisha’s different policies.
The Sanmina team also gave a presentation to the Odisha delegation, providing details of its products and solutions and some of its expansion plans – including its favorable view of India as an expansion target to diversify its global supply base.
According to the report, Sanmina expressed its intent to submit a detailed proposal to Odisha’s government, and the delegation assured all possible support in facilitating the investment journey and highlighted the different packages of incentives that are available based on investment size.
IPC, PCBAA Seek Clarity on CHIPS Act Plans
BANNOCKBURN, IL – IPC and the Printed Circuit Board Association of America are calling on the US Department of Commerce to clarify its plans for bolstering the domestic development and fabrication of advanced printed circuit boards as a key part of the CHIPS for America program.
In a letter sent to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, IPC president and CEO John W. Mitchell and PCBAA chairman Travis Kelly applauded the “positive signals” that have been sent by the Biden administration regarding greater support for PCBs:
In March, President Joe Biden issued a “Presidential Determination” under the Defense Production Act (DPA) that prioritizes the domestic manufacture of PCBs as a matter of national security.
In launching the first round of funding under the CHIPS for America program, Raimondo announced the US will become a global leader in related chip packaging technologies. The week before that, Raimondo confirmed that some of the CHIPS Act funding will go to “smaller firms,” including “circuit-board companies.”
“As the electronics sector faces significant challenges in the global market, it is crucial to develop strategies that foster growth, innovation, and competitiveness across this vital industry,” Mitchell wrote. “Chips, in fact, have no functionality until they are packaged and placed on PCBs by electronics manufacturers who assemble systems. Yet, the United States is more dependent on overseas suppliers for PCBs and packaging than they are for semiconductor chips.”
IPC is also calling on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittees in the House and Senate to allocate $100 million in Fiscal 2024 to implement President Biden’s presidential determination on PCBs. The funding also would advance the goals of the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to ensure the autonomy and resiliency of the U.S. supply chain for semiconductors and advanced electronics.
A 2022 report by the Commerce Department noted, “PCBs are essential for the electronic functions of ICT hardware as well as for a wide array of automotive, defense, and medical devices. [But] In the past 20 years China has overtaken the U.S. as the global leader in PCB manufacturing and sales.” A 2018 Commerce Department report characterized the PCB sector as “dying on the vine.”
According to “Leadership Lost,” a report published by IPC, the United States “has lost its historic dominance in the PCB sector.” Since 2000, the US share of global PCB production in dollar terms has fallen from over 30% to just 4%, with China now dominating the sector at around 50%. Any loss of access to nondomestic sources of PCBs would be “catastrophic,” the report said.
Shengyi Building $196M Plant in Thailand
DONGGUAN, CHINA – Shengyi Technology, the world’s second-largest seller of copper clad laminate, will invest CNY1.4 billion ($196 million) to establish a new plant in Thailand to meet international clients’ demand for the PCB component.
In a statement, Shengyi said it will purchase a piece of land in an industrial park in Chachoengsao province in south-central Thailand, but it did not disclose the planned annual capacity for the plant or the construction timetable.
Setting up the plant in the Southeast Asian country will help the company respond more flexibly to any possible adverse impacts of changes in the macro environment, industrial policies, and international trade, Shengyi said, adding that it still needs to gain approvals from Chinese and Thai authorities.
Altium 365 Integrates with SiliconExpert
SAN DIEGO – Altium has announced an integration collaboration with SiliconExpert, a provider of electronic component data and parts management software, to provide Altium 365 users with direct access to comprehensive, real-time component data whenever it is needed during the design and product lifecycle.
With SiliconExpert’s data on more than 1 billion electronic parts, Altium 365 users can soon access more detailed component information than they have had before, using data sourced directly from manufacturers, which helps ensure accuracy and reliability in decision-making.
“We are thrilled to build the integration as part of a continuing collaboration between SiliconExpert and Altium 365,” said Ananth Avva, GM and senior vice president of cloud platform at Altium. “Supply chain of components in the electronics lifecycle management remains a key topic for many of our customers. We are continuing to enrich component data for our customers, and SiliconExpert is one source that is in high demand. We believe this integration will continue to improve the way teams across all disciplines – from designers to operations, procurement, finance, and quality and compliance – approach component selection, risk analysis, and compliance management.”
Technoprobe Finalizes Harbor Electronics Acquisition
MERATE, ITALY – Technoprobe, an Italian manufacturer of chip testing solutions, has finalized its $50 million acquisition of Harbor Electronics, a California-based PCB maker.
Harbor Electronics, founded in the 1980s in Santa Clara, California and acquired in 2015 by the Shenzhen-headquartered Fastprint Circuit Tech group, is a manufacturer of advanced PCBs for testing systems for major semiconductor manufacturers.
The acquisition will strengthen Technoprobe’s technological competencies in testing by vertically integrating its production process through the in-house production of advanced printed circuit boards for its probe cards and final test boards, the company said in a release.
“We are proud to have finalized the acquisition of Harbor Electronic and pleased to continue to collaborate with Fastprint,” said Stefano Felici, CEO, Technoprobe. “The synergies from the acquisition will allow us to continue to grow in the testing market including through our entry into the Final Testing segment.”
“The acquisition by Technoprobe gives us access to new resources and markets and thus further expands our expertise in PCB manufacturing for probe boards, with the goal of increasingly supporting the semiconductor test market,” Christoper Cuda, CEO, Harbor Electronics. “Our engineers, production staff and support team at Harbor look forward to working with and continuing to grow with Technoprobe.”
Teltonika to Build PCB Plant in Lithuanian Capital
VILNIUS, LITHUANIA – Lithuanian company Teltonika has been cleared to build a PCB production plant here. The €143 million ($156 million) plant will be based in the Teltonika High-Tech Hill technology park in the Liepkalnis neighborhood in the capital city.
Teltonika plans to invest €2.1 billion ($2.3 billion) in the Teltonika High-Tech Hill technology park over the next five years.
Power Group Property, part of the Teltonika Group, will carry out the construction, which is planned to be completed in December 2024.
Nano Dimension Acquires Additive Flow Technology
WALTHAM, MA – Nano Dimension has announced the acquisition of the technology and intellectual property of the UK-based company Additive Flow, which supplies solutions for 3-D design simulation and optimization.
Additive Flow has developed high-performance and high-quality simulation software for mechanical, thermal, thermo-mechanical properties, along with frequency and fatigue across a range of materials and processes. Their product addresses design, production, and quality decisions, while optimizing for cost, weight, manufacturing productivity, and manufacturing yield – all simultaneously, Nano Dimension said in a release announcing the acquisition.
The company said the acquisition signals a successful milestone in its product development roadmap, as computer-aided engineering and design components are a core part of Nano Dimension’s design-through-manufacturing product strategy. Simulation algorithms and optimization capabilities are particularly crucial for leveraging the advantages of additive manufacturing. Additive Flow’s AI and GPU accelerated software will enhance the ability of Nano Dimension customers to replicate, design, and augment AME electronic components’ prototypical layouts, in a rapid and cost-effective manner. Additive Flow’s core technology will be integrated into Nano Dimension’s proprietary design package suite, FLIGHT.
“The Additive Flow team is thrilled to join Nano Dimension. Our solution was born out of real engineering challenges we faced to harness the capability of advanced manufacturing,” said Alexander Pluke, CEO, Additive Flow. “Our platform is built from the ground up to handle all the complex data and decisions of digital engineering, so teams can focus on their key goals. We are fortunate to have found a great partner in Nano Dimension where our innovation can be leveraged to its maximum potential. We look forward to building on our impressive track record and continuing to develop Additive Flow’s software and enhance Nano Dimension’s leading AM and AME product offerings.”
“We have been looking at the software market for simulation and optimization offerings for some time,” said Nano Dimension senior chief technology officer Nick Geddes. “There are many strong solutions in the market that do certain elements of those complicated tasks, but it is Additive Flow’s product that stood out in terms of the functionality we needed for a holistic solution, especially in the context of our requirements across AME and multi-dimensional polymer, metal and ceramic AM. The acquisition will add considerable firepower to the ability of our customers to leverage our leading digital manufacturing solutions.”
KingClean Electric Takes Major Stake in PCB Maker
SUZHOU, CHINA – Chinese home appliance maker KingClean Electric plans to acquire a 96.5% stake in PCB maker Suzhou Lihua Technology for 272.5 million yuan ($37.4 million).
Kingclean will buy the stake from Lake Electric Investment Group and RayVal Holding. Suzhou Lihua Technology, established in August 2003, also produces computer and peripheral products.
KingClean said it has decided to acquire Lihua as it is bullish on the global market for electronic products.
Würth Elektronik Completes APPLAUSE Research Project
NIEDERNHALL, GERMANY – Würth Elektronik Circuit Board Technology, along with 31 European partners, have completed the three-year Advanced Packaging for Photonics, Optics, and Electronics for Low-Cost Manufacturing in Europe (APPLAUSE) project, which looked to strengthen the semiconductor value chain for the medical sector in Europe by developing new tools, methods, and processes for volume production.
The project partners consisted of competence leaders from the fields of electronics packaging, optics, and photonics, together with leading equipment manufacturers and medical technology experts. The €34 million ($37 million) project was funded by ECSEL JU (Electronics Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Undertaking) as part of the Horizon 2020 EU funding program.
Würth Elektronik Circuit Board Technology participated in the following three use cases:
- Low-cost thermal imaging systems. A hybrid panel-level packaging process was developed for use in a thermal imaging camera here. Printed circuit boards formed the basis for the assembly and connection technology of the system-in-package (SiP). The main areas of development were printed circuit board technology, wire bonding and encapsulation of large optical chips.
- Minimally invasive cardiac implants. A catheter was equipped with accelerometers to measure contractions of the heart in this context. Würth was involved in the design of the circuit boards and production of the substrates. To this end, novel ultra-flexible and rigid-flexible stackups were designed with the project partner OSYPKA AG, and the printed circuit boards were manufactured on the basis of skin-friendly substrates.
- Cardiac monitoring systems. Würth participated in the development of an intelligent patch (smart patch) for cardiac monitoring. Two systems – a minipatch (three electrodes, short-term monitoring) and a maxi-patch (six electrodes, longer, steady-state monitoring) were set up. Würth focused on designing the layout of the stretchable substrates and manufacturing them. A completely new approach to integration was developed in this work. It was based on a stretchable printed circuit board made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). It was possible to make this using standard PCB production techniques, which brought many of the advantages of conventional PCB technology, such as assembly of components using pick-and-place machines. This advantage was exploited by integrating the electrical functions into a dual system-in-package (SiP) design that could be mounted directly on the flexible/stretchable PCB. Printing the electrodes directly on the flexible printed circuit board and integrating all the electronics into a textile substrate represent crucial advances in the development of medical patches for monitoring bodily functions. The high degree of miniaturization and tight integration resulted in a very unobtrusive form factor, while the stretchable PCB provided a very pliable, biocompatible substrate. In addition to Würth, other partners, including Fraunhofer IZM, Fraunhofer ENAS, Interuniversitair Micro-Electronica Centrum (IMEC) and Precordior OY played an important part in the implementation of this use case.
“Through the work on the APPLAUSE project, we have taken significant steps forward in the development of complete medical systems and, in particular, close-to-body applications,” said Dr. Alina Schreivogel, head of the research center at Würth Elektronik Circuit Board Technology. “This is down to the synergies and excellent collaboration between the partners within the consortium. Discussions are currently being held with some of the project partners on finalizing the development after the project has been completed with the clear aim of moving on to industrial production.”
APCT Now Offering Full Turnkey Solutions
SANTA CLARA, CA – Following the acquisitions of Advanced Circuits and San Diego PCB Design earlier this year, APCT has become the second-largest printed circuit manufacturer in North America offering design, fabrication and assembly.
The company’s design team can offer its expertise in a number of design layout services, including standard through-hole, high density interconnect (HDI), signal/power integrity design, dense high-speed digital, and RF & rigid-flex.
The assembly operation is located within the ACI headquarters in Aurora, CO, and is currently only offered as a “value add” to APCT’s customer base. Offerings include both through-hole and surface mount capabilities, supporting prototype quantities of standard technology, with all assembly being completed in-house.
PE Firm to Acquire Humiseal Parent for $1.3B
WESTWOOD, MA – Chase Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial coatings and tapes, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of investment funds managed by investment firm KKR for an all-cash transaction of around $1.3 billion. Chase supplies the Humiseal brand of conformal coatings.
Under the terms of the agreement, KKR will acquire all outstanding shares of Chase common stock for $127.50 per share in cash.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023, subject to the receipt of approval from the company’s shareholders and certain required regulatory approvals, as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
“At Chase, we have always been deeply committed to continuously improving our operating performance while providing an outstanding customer experience,” said president and CEO Adam P. Chase. “In KKR, Chase has found the right strategic partner with strong cultural alignment combined with the experience and resources to help support our mission and drive future growth.”
“Over its nearly 80-year history, Chase has established itself as a leader in highly engineered protective materials and built a portfolio of trusted brands, while delivering outstanding customer service,” said Josh Weisenbeck, a KKR partner who leads the firm’s Industrials investment team. “We look forward to supporting Chase on its next phase of growth through developing exciting new products, executing upon strategic acquisitions, and serving customers in growing end-markets, including critical applications in electronics, fiber optics and electric grid infrastructure.”
ECIA’s GIPC Publishes Cyber Security Guidance Document
ATLANTA – ECIA members face a broad spectrum of cyber risks that could potentially impact their business operations. These risks can be more complex and challenging due to their international scope. In response to these concerns, ECIA’s Global Industry Practices Committee (GIPC) has published a guidance document, prepared as the result of a cooperative effort between electronic component manufacturers and their authorized distributors.
The document outlines key areas that executives need to consider:
- Cyber threats when operating internationally
- International laws impacting cybersecurity
- An international response plan and scheduled tests
- Allocating resources to protect international operations.
The report reveals that approximately 60% of incidents were discovered within days, but 20% could take months or more before organizations realized something was amiss.
“Spending more money on cyber security doesn’t necessarily make you more secure,” the report cautions. “It’s crucial to ensure that the money is spent effectively on measures that genuinely improve your cyber security posture. This might include hiring skilled personnel, investing in advanced security tools, and regular staff training.”
ECIA members can access the report here.
Additive Manufacturing Continues to Flourish, Jabil Finds
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – The adoption of 3-D printing continues to increase in production environments despite ongoing roadblocks with the cost and availability of additive materials, according to a survey by Jabil.
Jabil has conducted a biennial survey since 2017 to trace the trajectory of additive manufacturing while identifying the most promising opportunities and lingering challenges facing decision makers.
“The results of our latest manufacturing survey confirm our experiences in helping customers leverage the speed and agility of 3-D printing to transform different manufacturing steps-from prototyping to production,” said Luke Rodgers, Jabil’s senior director of R&D for additive manufacturing. “In particular, this survey underscores how increased adoption of additive manufacturing is driving demand for differentiated additive materials with improved physical properties to deliver greater functionality, increased sustainability, and economies of scale.”
Jabil commissioned SIS International Research to conduct the 3-D Printing Technology Trends Survey with participation from 200 additive manufacturing stakeholders worldwide. Questions were designed to offer a better understanding of decisions concerning 3-D printing and additive manufacturing materials based on current opportunities, challenges, and industry developments. More than half of the top executives surveyed regard additive manufacturing as a strategic opportunity to enhance their organizations, while 40% consider 3-D printing as a viable alternative to designing and/or producing products.
A vast majority of the participants (97%) currently are using 3-D printing to produce functional or end-use parts. Nearly three-quarters of participants produced at least 10,000 3-D-printed parts over the past year, and more than a third printed up to 100,000 parts. Overall, participants anticipate an uptick in the use of 3-D printing for production parts or goods in the next three-to-five years, despite being less bullish about overall 3-D printing industry growth than previous participants of additive manufacturing surveys.
Other key findings include:
- The top three use cases for 3-D printing are prototyping (97%), research and development (75%), and production parts (59%)
- 3-D printing use for bridge production (moving from prototyping to initial production) grew from 23% in 2017 to 59% in 2023, while 3-D-printing jigs, fixtures, and tooling nearly doubled from 2017 (30%) to 2023 (58%)
- Prototyping is widely recognized for delivering the most significant impact to product lifecycles by 95% of the participants, followed by product designs (52%) and small-scale production (27%).
Additive manufacturing benefits have remained consistent since 2019, with the ability to deliver parts faster, decrease production costs, respond to issues on production lines, as well as enable production of personalized and customized goods.
Materials were identified as the primary financial or cost burden to adopting 3-D printing by 79% of participants, up from 18% just two years prior. Moreover, nine in 10 of those surveyed assert that the biggest challenge is the unavailability of desired materials.
Two-thirds of this year’s participants say they utilize custom-engineered materials as part of their overall additive manufacturing strategies. This finding may be in response to ongoing materials shortages, along with increased demands to produce parts with superior performance characteristics. Increased use of engineered materials with value-added attributes also reflects continued innovations in additive materials to improve the physical properties of end-use parts for greater utilization at lower costs, as well as faster delivery and less waste.
Overall, the use of plastics/polymers has been consistently pervasive among survey respondents since 2019. The use of metals, however, has greatly increased, from 39% in 2019 to 92% in this year’s survey. More than 96% expressed a preference for using metal materials under the right conditions, up from 63% in the 2019 survey.
TT Electronics Expanding Footprint in Mexico and Malaysia
WOKING, UK – TT Electronics has announced that its Global Manufacturing Solutions business is expanding its footprint in the Americas by opening a new facility in Mexicali, Mexico, and is investing in its Asia Pacific operations to increase capabilities at its existing Kuantan, Malaysia, facility.
“As a strategic manufacturing partner, we have built a solid reputation for delivering agile solutions and excellent customer service,” said Michael Leahan, COO, TT Electronics. “We continue to invest in our global facilities and supply chain resources to directly support customer growth, and we are excited to announce significant expansion to our footprint in our GMS division.”
The new 75,000 sq. ft. Mexicali facility will employ around 250 people with capacity for up to six highly automated SMT lines and will complement the company’s 125,000 sq. ft. operation in Cleveland, OH, by offering fully integrated electronics manufacturing solutions, including PCB assembly, system integration and testing. The facility is on track to be operational in early 2024, the company said.
The 26,000 sq. ft. Kuantan, Malaysia, plant expansion includes the installation of a new high-speed SMT line to support customer demand and increase production capacity. The facility is currently delivering first article systems for the healthcare and semiconductor equipment industries.
“Whether customers are seeking best-value-geographies for their product, risk mitigation against geopolitical uncertainties, or looking to reduce their carbon footprint by manufacturing locally to the end market – TT is well-positioned to support their needs,” said Leahan.
Jabil Breaks Ground on Croatian Plant
OSIJEK, CROATIA – Jabil in early August announced that it has begun construction on a production facility here.
The factory will span some 48,000 sq. m. (516,667 sq. ft.) and is scheduled to be completed in July 2024. The finished factory will eventually employ 1,500 workers.
“This project is very important for Osijek, Slavonia and the regional development and will offer numerous opportunities for economic growth and progress,” Victor Morales, head of works, Jabil, in a statement.
“This expansion is a strategic move that aligns with Jabil’s focus on long-term secular trends and growth in renewable energy, electric vehicles, healthcare, 5G, and cloud,” said Gerald JJ Creadon, executive vice president in charge of operations, Jabil.
Osijek is the fourth-largest city in Croatia, with a population of 96,848 in 2021. It is located in the eastern Croatian region of Slavonia.
Scanfil to Pump $22M into New Poland EMS Facility
SIERADZ, POLAND – Scanfil will invest €20 million ($22 million) in a new 14,000 sq. m. electronics manufacturing factory here, which will be ready for production in mid-2025.
The new building will increase the factory floor area by over 70%. The project will start this month and is expected to be ready for production in the second quarter of 2025.
The site includes a new building and will require additional investments in production and warehouse technology. Additional investments will be made gradually in line with production volume growth.
The new factory building will be powered by solar panels and the indoor climate will be heated and cooled by geothermal energy. The chosen solutions reduce CO2 emissions significantly compared to traditional alternatives.
“This investment will ensure our capacity to serve the growing manufacturing needs and volumes of our existing and new electronics customers in Europe. This is the second large investment in less than a year in Sieradz. In January, we decided to invest €6 million in the electronics manufacturing capacity that is now in use in August,” said Petteri Jokitalo, CEO, Scanfil.
IMI Sells STI to PE Firm
HOOK, UK – British private equity firm Rcapital has agreed to the purchase of STI Ltd. from Integrated Micro-Electronics for GBP2.2 million ($2.8 million).
After the closing of the acquisition, Rcapital will work on refinancing initiatives for STI that will enable the business to accelerate its growth strategy, at a time when STI’s core aerospace and defense markets are experiencing significant growth, STI said in a release.
STI provides electronics design and assembly primarily for the aerospace, defense and security sectors. It has two factories in the United Kingdom and one in Cebu. It also operates a design center in London. The current management team, led by Simon Best and Tony Best, will remain in place.
“This is fantastic news for STI. We would like to thank IMI for the past six years of their ownership and we wish them well in their new direction. We are delighted that ownership will pass back into the hands of a British company that has a track record of helping companies grow,” said Simon Best. “Our order books are stronger than they have ever been and we are anticipating significant new contract wins in the next few months. I’m excited by what the future holds in store for STI and look forward to guiding it through this next chapter in its history.”
“We were introduced to STI earlier this year and have been consistently impressed by STI’s people and capabilities,” said Chris Campbell of Rcapital. “Following a highly competitive sales process we have now exchanged contracts and look forward to completing the transaction later this year. It’s a great business in an industry that we know well through our portfolio businesses that have exposure to the aerospace and defense markets.
“With a highly experienced team, decades of experience in mission critical applications and very strong relationships with global blue-chip clients, we have absolutely no doubt that STI will prosper in the years ahead.”
Tempo Automation Outsources Manufacturing to Network PCB
SAN FRANCISCO – Financially strapped EMS Tempo Automation has established a manufacturing outsource agreement with Network PCB, a PCB manufacturing and assembly company located in San Jose, CA.
The company laid off 62 of its employees in mid-July, leaving only seven employees on its payroll, while CEO Joy Weiss and CTO Ralph Richart saw their base salaries cut by 50%.
In a filing with the SEC, Tempo said the layoffs and executive salary cuts come as a way of reducing corporate overhead to better position the company to fund its planned operations while meeting obligations as they come due. Tempo has “experienced negative cash flows since inception that raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue,” the filing said. The company’s revenue in the first quarter of 2023 was $2.8 million, while its net loss was $7.4 million.
Current Tempo customers have been given the option to move their account to Network PCB, purchase the inventory for an active job currently held at Tempo, have their consigned parts returned to them, or purchase additional inventory that they may have used as part of orders built by Tempo in the past.
Kaga Electronics Expanding Mexico Presence
TOKYO – Kaga Electronics will build a new factory in Mexico to meet customers’ growing needs in the US market.
In a release announcing the new construction, Kaga said the purchase of land and construction of the new facility is expected to total around 5 billion yen ($34.2 million) over the next five years. The new facility, which will be built in the Parque Industrial Millennium in San Luis Potosí, will feature 20,000 sq. m. (215,000 sq. ft.) of floor space and when in full operation, the company anticipates a need for 700 employees. Construction is planned to be completed in April 2024.
Taxan Mexico, the company’s EMS subsidiary in Mexico, was established in 2017, and has primarily focused on the assembly of lighting units used in vehicles in the US market. After seeing an increase in orders from those existing customers and expecting to gain new customers requiring the assembly of circuit boards to be used in air conditioning equipment, Kaga saw the need to expand beyond its existing 8,200 sq. m. (88,000 sq. ft.) Mexican facility, the company said.
In addition to unit assembly and circuit board assembly, Kaga plans to make the new factory into an integrated production base that includes component molding, sheet metal processing, and finished product assembly. The company said its aim is to capture local production demand for products intended for the US market, where opportunities are expected to increase in the future, and turn the Mexican operation into Kaga’s largest EMS business base, with net sales of 50 billion yen ($342 million) and approximately 2,000 jobs to be created within five years from the start of operation.
StenTech Acquires Photo Etch Technology
WYLIE, TX – StenTech in August announced the acquisition of stencil manufacturer Photo Etch Technology, along with its affiliate Utz Technologies.
Photo Etch has four locations, with a headquarters in Lowell, MA, and operations in Santa Clara, CA, Clearwater, FL, and Montville, NJ, and the acquisition deepens StenTech’s existing footprint in Silicon Valley and New England while simultaneously extending its reach into Florida through Photo Etch’s Clearwater operation, the company said in a release announcing the acquisition.
“We were looking for a partner who could continue providing our customers with the quality of service they deserve,” said Lisa Guidi, owner and CFO, Photo Etch. “Having worked closely with StenTech’s leadership over the past several months, I am confident they will honor our company’s important legacy while providing our customers with access to additional resources through the StenTech platform.”
“I am thrilled to be joining forces with the team at Photo Etch,” said StenTech President and CEO Brent Nolan. “This acquisition represents StenTech’s continued growth and innovation, and we are excited by the opportunity to serve Photo Etch’s customers.”
Tide Rock Acquires Pro-Active Engineering
SAN DIEGO, CA – Tide Rock, an unlevered buyout firm, has announced the acquisition of Pro-Active Engineering, an EMS solutions provider for the military & defense, industrial, medical, renewable energy and aerospace sectors.
Pro-Active specializes in end-to-end solutions for printed circuit boards, encompassing electronics design, rapid prototyping, short-run and large-scale production, box builds, programming, testing, potting and conformal coating as well as software and firmware development.
“We are excited to add Pro-Active Engineering to Tide Rock’s growing group of manufacturing companies,” said Brooks Kincaid, president, Tide Rock. “Pro-Active expands Tide Rock’s EMS footprint adding complementary services and expertise. The company brings design engineering, quickturn prototyping and commercial-scale production capabilities as well as a valuable customer base. Pro-Active is poised for significant growth.”
Pro-Active vice president Paul Schwanbeck will continue to lead the team from its facility in Sun Prairie, WI. Toby Klusmeyer founded the business in 1996 and will retire by the end of the year.
“With over 27 years of leadership in the EMS industry, I am genuinely excited about the prospects this acquisition opens up for Pro-Active,” Schwanbeck said. “We are now primed to scale our operations and elevate the business to new heights, all while upholding our commitment to delivering exceptional service and top-tier quality to our valued customers.”
ITIDA, GIZ to Promote Egyptian Offshoring
CAIRO – The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) have signed a memorandum of understanding to promote Egypt’s offshoring sector and integrate Industry 4.0 digital technologies in local electronics manufacturing.
The focus will be on two pilot clusters, namely the Industry 4.0 Innovation Centre in the Knowledge City, and the Innovation Cluster at Borg El Arab City. The two parties hosted a round table meeting for local and foreign companies specializing in IT outsourcing and global business services to discuss the available growth opportunities, potential partnerships, and means to enhance their operations to help them expand their global delivery centers in Egypt.
ITIDA CEO Ahmed El Zaher said this was a step in the constructive cooperation between Egypt and Germany in the IT sector and is in line with ITIDA’s endeavors to drive growth and strengthen Egypt’s global position as a reliable offshoring hub for IT and business services, with great potential in the high-end, value-added services and electronics industry.
ITIDA and GIZ will work to strengthen offshoring activities in both Egypt and Germany, in addition to the EU at large, by attracting more German companies to establish global delivery centers in Egypt and will also promote digitization in Egypt through training programs and support for at least 50 Egyptian companies to enhance job creation and employment.
ECIA Publishes Results of Future Workforce Focus Groups
ATLANTA – Winning the race for talent has never been more critical as the entire tech industry faces alarming shortages of skilled workers. To address the challenge, in May and June of 2023, two focus groups were conducted by the Electronic Components Industry Association and its newly established Industry Recruiting Committee.
The objective of the ECIA’s research was to gain insights into what motivates individuals to enter the electronic components industry and to learn how to attract and retain talent, and the research will be used to create strategic marketing collateral for ECIA members to use in recruitment efforts and inform members on best recruitment tactics.
The focus groups consisted of 25 participants and a committee of six ECIA members. The participants had less than five years in the electronic components industry. Some participants were brand new, and others had been in the industry for only a few years. Age was not a determining factor. While many participants were considered the “next generation,” seasoned individuals that were new to the industry were able to participate as well.
Insights include which qualities candidates find attractive about the industry, those that help retain employees and how to keep talent motivated.
ECIA members can access the report here.