Global SMT manufacturers eyeing Indian SMT market

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The consequences of recession are slowly surfacing in the electron­ics manufacturing segment. Most small and medium exterprises that had been contemplating investing in surface mount technology (SMT) machines have now become circumspect and are delaying the process or changing their minds altogether. SMT investments are exorbitant to say the least and since the last six to eight months have been low on profitability, most enterprises have become understandably tenacious about their money, while employing a wait and watch policy.

However, India has little to be anxious about. Since the US and the European markets have been the most severely hit by recession, almost all SMT manufacturers are now eyeing the Asian market, mainly China and India, to enhance their growth.

By Atanu Kumar Das

Saturday, May 16, 2009: Current scenario : Advanced 3-D technique helps users to identify critical information such as height, volume and shape of SMT struc­tures and also helps in distinguising aspects of SMT, which would be impos­sible to ascertain with 2-D technology. The hybrid inspection system is the future of SMT PCB inspection. It blends automatic optical inspection (AOI), as well as X-ray inspection methods in one machine. Almost 100 per cent of any board can be inspected with such machines, a feat difficult to achieve with regular AOI and X-ray inspection. By blending both processes, the board can be inspected entirely in one go. With this, the overall inspection process is reduced to just one (standard practice is AOI first and then X-ray), facilitating the saving of time and improved proc­ess control.

“The requirement for SMT testing and inspection equipment is growing constantly so we are doing fairly well. Of late, there have been fewer enquir­ ies regarding inspection systems, but the demand for testing systems has not been hampered so far,” reveals Suresh Nair, VP, Leaptech Corporation. L Sampath, CEO, EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd, says, “We deal in AOI and our principal is Shindenshi, Japan. Recession has definitely produced an impact in the last six months, as people are investing less on high-end prod­ucts now. In 2007-08, we witnessed a massive demand for medium-end products, where we have been doing well. I believe the second half of 2009 is going to be better as SMT has great potential in India.”

The future augurs well

A number of firms are eyeing India as their profit-making centre. In the last two years, dozens of SMT companies have made their way into the Indian market. Another concern that has re­cently made its entry into the country is ViTechnology, one of the biggest players in AOI business. The very fact that a company of ViTechnology’s magnitude and stature chose to enter India dur­ing recession, highlights the fact that the country has immense potential for growth in the SMT segment and also that global firms are well aware of this verity.

Rakesh Shetty, business develop­ment manager, ViTechnology India, says, “India and China are now looked at as destinations that can garner the maximum quantum of business. The finest way to attract more business is to offer the best possible solutions with extensive after-sales services. ViTechnology is known for high-end products in the AOI segment and we have received some solid queries for our products. Recession will definitely hurt India slightly, but I am sure that people will continue to invest in the country in hopes of future returns.”

Nair agrees that many manufactur­ers are deflecting from through-hole technology to SMT, heralding good times for SMT players. “As per our observations, many high-end products are being converted to SMT but con­sumer products continue to be made via through-hole technology only. CFL will be converted to SMT sooner or later due to the power factor issues imposed by the government, leaving CFL manu­facturers with no other choice but to obey,” says Nair.

Some of the players in this field are:

ViTechnology is a global supplier of equipment and services dedicated to the electronics industry. Its services include backend semiconductor packag­ing, through board assembly and final test. The company researches, develops, manufactures, markets and supports an extensive range of ingenious state­of-the-art equipment and software solutions, which increase productivity across electronics manufacturing lines while enhancing the quality of finished products. The 5K/7K series is powered with all the latest ViTechnology tools, offering flexibility for wider boards and dual lane applications. The 5K/7K and 7K-DL series’ innovative and modular concept allows companies requiring en­try-level or midange AOI systems to adopt a solution that can be upgraded onsite to meet both current and future requirements. The 5K/7K and 7K-DL series are equipped with heads of the P series: Plus, Perform or Premuim, to offer greater versatility. In order to ensure accuracy, repeatability and short technology chosen by industry leaders for zero defect line applications.

EMST Marketing Pvt Ltd is part of the Rs 2,500 million-Electronica Group of companies, a pioneer in the manu­facture of capital goods for different industry segments, like machine tools, plastics, electronics, metal-cutting, etc. EMST Marketing is a recently-formed company, conceived to focus on sales and support of both EMS Technologies’ (another one of Electronica Group’s sub­sidiaries) machinery, as well as traded products from leading manufacturers in the world. EMST has been in the arena of PCB assembly and cable processing equipment since the last 15 years. In the SMT inspection space, EMST Marketing has products from Shindenshi, Japan, which has a long history of over 30 years in original development of the latest technological products. The two products EMST Marketing provides to the Indian market are ESV 2240 and ESV 505.

Leaptech Corporation is an eminent supplier of PCB assembly automation and other automation solutions to the electronics and automotive industries in India. The company has its head office in Mumbai, with branch offices across Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai. Many of its domestic clients are using tangteck ovens, including Titan Timeproducts, Hical Technologies, Essae Electronics, Essae Teraoka, Kaynes Technology, etc. In the testing and measurement space, Leaptech represents principals like I-Pulse, Japan for SMT, AOI and hybrid (AOI & X-ray combined) inspection systems, Okano, Japan for in-circuit testers, Tecnicon, UK for solder paste thickness measurement systems and Acculogic, Canada for flying prober and functional testers.

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