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  • Episode 145: Designing Electronics to be Reliable in Harsh Environments

    11 JUN 2024 · The challenging world of electronics becomes even more challenging when the end product is destined for harsh environments. For high reliability products operating in a harsh environment, the quest for reliability is not just a goal—it's an imperative. These are not your everyday gadgets; often they're critical components of systems designed to operate under extreme conditions, where failure is not an option. From the scorching heat of desert landscapes to the unyielding cold of arctic tundras, from the high-pressure depths of our oceans to the radiation-filled expanse of space, the demands on these electronic products are as varied as the environments themselves. While ocean depths, outer space, and frozen tundras are arguably harsh environments, we don’t have to look too far for examples of product failures in less harsh environments. One example that comes to mind is the state of public EV charging stations. Government reports have concluded that up to 25% of public EV chargers are inoperative at any given time.  While there are many reasons for this, one may conclude they are not designed and manufactured for the intended in climactic operating environment.  On this episode, we'll uncover the numerous challenges that designers and engineers face in their quest for reliability, durability, and functionality of the final product. As we navigate through this complex landscape, we'll highlight the strategies that enable these products to not just survive, but excel in unforgiving conditions.  Our navigator for this episode is my guest, Dr. Andre Kleyner. Dr. Kleyner has 30 years of engineering, research, consulting, and managerial experience specializing in reliability of electronic and mechanical systems designed to operate in severe environments. He received a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Business Administration from Ball State University. Dr. Kleyner is a Global Reliability Engineering Leader with Delphi Electronics & Safety and an adjunct professor at Purdue University. He is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ), a Certified Reliability Engineer, Certified Quality Engineer, and a Six Sigma Black Belt. He also holds several US and foreign patents and authored multiple professional publications including two books on the topics of reliability, statistics, warranty management, and lifecycle cost analysis.
    1h 5m 57s
  • Episode 144: A Conversation with Indium's Rick Short about Education-Based Marketing

    28 MAY 2024 · We’re the best, we’re number one, we’re better than them, we’ve won more awards than our competitors, we’ve all seen those ads. While this form of advertising isn’t unique, when’s the last time it caused you to buy a product based on the ad. I think we all know that answer. There was a time when we relied heavily on print advertising to determine what products were available and from whom. The two primary methods to gain product awareness were print advertising and trade shows. While advertising and trade shows still exist, they are no longer the primary method of product awareness. 31 years ago, beginning on April 30, 1993, all of that began to change. What happened on April 30, 1993? Public access to the Internet was born. Over the past 31 years, Internet technology propelled us into an age of self discovery. The older generation accuses the younger generation of always having their face in a screen. While that may be true, it’s not always TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. People today, particularly younger people, research products, technologies, and a host of other things online. Consumers today are far more educated on the products they wish to purchase them at any time in history. In what I find to be an exceptional irony, much of the industry responsible for building the technology behind Internet connectivity continues to advertise their products in a pre-Internet style. You may ask, what does this have to do with reliability? Building reliable products requires a net sum of a vast amount of best practices. One of those practices is insuring the right products, procedures, specifications, designs, and so many other factors are implemented. This goal cannot be accomplished by just reading advertisements from sellers. Frequently, engineers struggle to solve problems without a complete knowledge of the root cause of the problem. Particularly today, with so many in-house subject matter experts retiring, advertisements boasting the number of customers, time and business, and where they place in the hierarchy of competitive products do not assist the engineer and understanding the root cause of a potential problem, and certainly not the solution. Over the past several years, several companies in our industry have begun to change their advertising strategies from transactional, to transformational. That is to say they help to connect problems to solutions, more than merely hyping products. My guest today fully understands the value and effectiveness of what I like to call “Conscious Marketing “. Rick Short is Corporate Associate Vice President for Indium Corporation. Rick has been with the company since 1984 in capacities including Technical Service Manager, Marketing Director, International Sales Director, head of Technical Support, and head of Environmental, Health & Safety, in addition to his current role. He has an MBA from Ren-Se-Lere Polytechnic Institute, a bachelor’s degree in business management from Utica College, and an associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College. I talk with Rick about his company’s unique approach to education and how that has helped to transform their customer base.
    59m 40s
  • Episode 143: A Candid Conversation with Industry Icon Doug Pauls

    14 MAY 2024 · We’ve discussed the silver tsunami on the show numerous times, the unprecedented rate of which employees are retiring. When engineers and other employees retire from companies, they take with them more than a set of gold cufflinks or an engraved plaque. In many cases, they also take with them wisdom and knowledge. Perhaps this is never more true than in the case of my guest today. And who is that? My friend and colleague Doug Pauls. Doug Pauls holds a B.A. in chemistry and physics from Carthage College, Kenosha, Wisconsin, and a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He worked nine years for the Navy, eight years as technical director of Contamination Studies Labs, and more than 20 years at Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace), in the Advanced Operations Engineering group where he is a technical fellow and, a principal materials and process engineer. Doug was awarded the Rockwell Collins Arthur A. Collins Engineer of the Year Award in 2004 as well as numerous other awards. Doug is a long-time (and when I say long time I mean well over 30 years) IPC chairman and was awarded the IPC’s Hall of Fame Award in 2017. Most notably, he is known for his expertise in surface insulation resistance testing, cleaning and cleanliness assessment, conformal coatings, and how to investigate and qualify manufacturing processes. He has been a U.S. representative to ISO and IEC working groups on SIR, electromigration, and cleanliness reliability standards. He has participated in numerous national and international consortia on electronics manufacturing materials and processes. He recently led a team of SMEs to redefine the cleanliness provisions of J-STD-001, culminating in what is presently J-STD-001H. To take liberties with a famous Mark Twain quote “rumors of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated”. For several years now, I’ve heard rumors of Doug Pauls retirement. Well, that day has finally come. I’ll talk with Doug about his Long career within the electronic assembly industry. We’ll talk about his triumphs and challenges, and his journey in this ever changing, dynamic, and challenging industry. If you’re new to this industry, stick around because I plan on asking Doug for his advice to young people entering our world, the world of electronic assembly.
    1h 16m 28s
  • Episode 142: Live from SMTA's Pan Pacific Strategic Electronics Symposium (PanPac)

    23 APR 2024 · This episode was recorded at SMTA's Pan Pacific Strategic Electronics Symposium on the big island of Hawaii. My guests on this episode are Dr. Chuck Bower, founder of PanPac, Keith Bryant, and Dr. Ron Lasky. We discussed the history of PanPac, technologies introduced at PanPac, and what makes PanPac so unique. We also discuss Dartmouth College's unique engineering innovations program.
    38m 25s
  • Episode 141: Component Tape Splicing Best Practices with Larry (The Professor) Welk

    9 APR 2024 · Optimization has become an important goal within the electronic assembly industry. While modern electronic assembly techniques utilize a variety of equipment, one specific type of equipment often consumes a disproportionate percentage of the overall equipment budget, that is the place machine. The cost of the machine, associated conveyors and feeders, require that the machine is running as often as possible. The airline Industry refers to this as “wheels up” time. Airlines make money when the aircraft is in the air “wheels up”. On the other hand, anytime the wheels are down, the aircraft is not making money for the airline. I listened to an interview a few years ago with the CEO of Southwest Airlines, a US discount carrier. Unlike most other airlines, Southwest does not charge its customers to check bags. The CEO was asked by the reporter why they have not joined the rest of the industry in charging for checked bags. The CEOs answer was genius. If Southwest Airlines began charging for check bags, it would actually slow down the boarding process as more and more passengers would drag their bags onto the aircraft most likely resulting in a number of those bags having to be checked at the gate. Southwest Airlines is famous for having the fastest aircraft gate turns in the industry, frequently under 30 minutes. Yes Southwest airlines charged for checked baggage, it would require more time at the gate before the next flight would be ready to depart. That would result in fewer flight segments per aircraft per day. In other words, allowing customers to check bags for free equates to more “wheels up” time and, subsequently, more profit for the airline. The same principal can apply to pick and place machines. When Pick and machines are running product, they are making presumably making money. When they sit idle, they are arguably costing money. What can assemblers do to improve the optimization or “wheels up” time on their pick and place machines? My guest today, Larry Welk believes he has an answer. Larry Welk, a.k.a. Professor spice is the co-owner of Smart Splice, a manufacturer of tape splicing tools. Larry will review tape splicing best practices and explain how tape splicing, when performed correctly, can lead to higher pick and place machine optimization. So, buckle your seatbelt this podcast episode is officially wheels up! Larry's Contact Information: Larry Welk
    57m 4s
  • Episode 140: Circuit Board Design and Acquisition Best Practices

    26 MAR 2024 · This episode is a little different from our usual episodes. First of all, it’s a dual-branded episode. It’s both a Reliability Matters Podcast and an Ecosystem podcast episode. The Ecosystem podcast host Judy Warner will join me for an unusual topic, at least for The Reliability Matters Podcast. Most of my audience are assemblers of circuit assemblies. Our world begins with a bare board. I reminded of the biblical passage “the Wiseman built his house upon the rock”. Circuit boards are the foundation from which we build our products upon. There’s so much that goes into the design and fabrication of a bare circuit board. Who designs these boards, what criteria were they given, what materials did they choose, where are they made, how much do they cost, and, perhaps most importantly in our world, how easy are they to assemble? To help answer these and so many other questions, Judy and I have assembled an expert panel of board designers. Our expert panel consists of Gerry Partida, Vice President of Technology at Summit Interconnect and Julie Ellis, Field applications engineering manager for TTM Technologies. Contact Information: Judy Warner EEcosystem Podcast Julie Ellis TTM Technologies Gerry Partida Summit Interconnect
    1h 10m 27s
  • Episode 139: Environmentally Responsible Alternatives to Traditional PCB Fabrication

    12 MAR 2024 · Today, we delve into an increasingly critical aspect of technology and electronics manufacturing - the pursuit of environmentally responsible electronics manufacturing. Our industry has witnessed many environmental revolutions.   The elimination of popular cleaning solvents brought on by the Montreal protocol in 1989, soon followed by strict VOC regulations pertaining to cleaning chemicals. The switch from lead-based solders to lead free alloys, led by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive, known as RoHS implemented within the EU in 2003 and adopted nearly worldwide, regulations regarding the disposal of electronic waste (e-waste) resulting in many countries mandating regulations and programs for the safe recycling and disposal of electronic products, and more. These regulations and others have inspired some companies to seek eco-friendly alternatives to traditional Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabrication. The combination of numerous environmental regulations has resulted in many companies’ implementation of sustainability programs. As our world becomes more connected, the demand for electronic devices continues to rise, and with it, the importance of mitigating the environmental impact of their production. On this episode of The Reliability Matters Podcast, I’ll speak with Mark Edwards. Mark wrote an article entitled “Environmentally Responsible Alternatives to Traditional PCB Fabrication”, which of course, spurred my interest. Mark works as a Strategic Account Manager within MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions, on the global Business Development team for Circuitry Solutions. Mark has been involved in electronics manufacturing since the late 1980’s and brings a passion for process automation, circuit assembly, solders/fluxes, adhesives, coatings and PCB fabrication – all with a focus on repeatability and reliability. Mark holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Oklahoma State University and began his career at a defense electronics company in Dallas, Texas (that was later acquired by Raytheon). Mark has uncovered trends and synthesized customer needs for electronic hardware in the telecommunications, defense, automotive, industrial controls segments in the Americas, and now globally, in his newest role. Join me as we explore new materials and methodologies, and innovations that are shaping the electronic assembly industry towards a more eco-conscious future. Mark's Contact Information Mark Edwards
    55m 11s
  • Episode 138: Hand Soldering and Rework Best Practices with Debbie Wade

    27 FEB 2024 · Today we're diving deep into the world of precision and craftsmanship—two crucial elements in the realm of hand soldering and rework of circuit assemblies. Whether you're a seasoned electronics enthusiast, a hobbyist, or just someone with a curious mind, this episode promises to demystify the art and science behind hand soldering and rework. We'll be exploring the latest tools, techniques, and trends that define this intricate process, shedding light on the unsung heroes who meticulously bring circuit assemblies to life, or in the case of rework, back to life. There is archaeological evidence that soldering was employed as early as 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. Soldering and brazing are thought to have originated very early in the history of metal-working, before 4000 BC. Sumerian swords from 3000 BC were assembled using hard soldering techniques. While soldering applications have morphed and expanded over the centuries, the basic “rules” of soldering have not. On this episode, we’re going to talk about an obvious soldering application, at least to my audience, and that’s soldering of electronic assemblies. From the evolution of hand soldering with numerous technological advancements to the challenges faced by DIYers and professionals alike, we've got it all covered, thanks to my subject matter expert guest, Debbie Wade. Debbie is the managing Director of ART A-R-T, Advanced Rework Technology, a fully independent training organization, which has been presenting various training courses for over thirty years. Debbie has been in the electronics industry for over 20 years with the last 15 of those years at Advanced Rework Technology. Debbie comes to us very well credentialed. She is the chairperson for the IPC-A-620 Training Committee and IPC European Training Committee, with her Master IPC Trainer status for IPC-A 600, 610, 620, 7711/21 and J-STD 001, she is an expert in the field of fabrication, assembly, process and acceptance of board and cable assemblies. Debbie has been presented with numerous awards from IPC in recognition of her contribution to IPC standards and training courses. So, grab your soldering iron (metaphorically speaking), get ready to dive into the flux, and join us as we unravel the secrets of successful hand soldering and rework. Stick around for valuable insights, practical tips, and maybe even a few stories from the trenches of hand soldering and re-work. Debbie's Contact Information: Debbie Wade Master IPC Trainer Advanced Rework Technology,
    1h 11m 2s
  • Episode 137: Building a Sustainable Career with a Sustainable Impact

    13 FEB 2024 · Today, we delve into the crucial aspects of maintaining well-being on this journey—how to sidestep the notorious burnout, and perhaps more importantly, how to fuel and maintain your motivation. Because, let's face it, the road to creating a meaningful impact can be demanding, and it's essential to navigate it with resilience and purpose. Join me for a conversation with Rick Coulson. Rick recently retired from a 34 year career at Intel, most recently as a Senior Fellow in the Intel Optane Group. Rick is a passionate advocate for career sustainability and for servant leadership. Rick was awarded the Intel Achievement Award four times for his and his team's work on storage subsystems and SSD technology. He holds more than 90 Patents. Rick received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Colorado and his master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. He is currently a board member at Co-Serve International, a non-profit dedicated to teaching Servant Leadership around the world. With Co-Serve he has been to Kazakhstan 8 times. He’s on the advisory board of Vooks, a company which produces award-winning books that are loved by parents and educators alike, and he’s part of an additional stealth mode start-up (sounds mysterious). He enjoys mentoring and coaching, and today, he’s my guest on the Reliability Matters podcast. Rick's Contact Information:
    1h 15m 40s
  • Episode 136: Environmentally Responsible/Sustainable Conformal Coating with Dr. Cassandra Zentner

    23 JAN 2024 · We covered the topic of ultrathin conformal coatings back in November. We covered various conformal coating materials from traditional acrylics and silicones to ultrathin parylene coatings. What other coating materials are available? Where do these types of coatings fit within specific applications? Where do health and safety, environmental concerns, and sustainability programs fit in with a coating process? To answer these other questions, I invited Dr. Cassandra Zentner, VP of Health and environment at Actnano, a manufacturer of coating materials onto the program. Cassandra earned a BA from Oberlin College and a PhD in organic materials chemistry from MIT. Cassandra's Contact Information: Dr. Cassandra Zentner VP of Health and Environment Actnano
    1h 4m 6s

Reliability Matters is a podcast on the subject of reliability of circuit assemblies. Reliability "best practices" and success stories are discussed. This podcast features interviews with experts in the electronic...

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Reliability Matters is a podcast on the subject of reliability of circuit assemblies. Reliability "best practices" and success stories are discussed. This podcast features interviews with experts in the electronic assembly industry.

All electronic production segments which effect product reliability are on the table. This includes contamination, coating, cleanliness assessment, inspection, building for harsh environments, reflow, printing, failure analysis, board fabrication, and much more.

Your Host:
Mike Konrad began his career in the electronic assembly equipment industry in 1985. Mike founded Aqueous Technologies in 1992 in response to the Montreal Protocol and the resulting international treaty banning most popular cleaning/defluxing solvents.

Mike is an internationally known speaker on the subject of increasing reliability through contamination removal and cleanliness quantification techniques and procedures. Mike was awarded “Distinguish Speaker Status” with SMTA in 2018 and received the “Rich Freiberger Best of Conference Award” in 2019.

Mike is a member of the SMTA Global Board of Directors where he is Vice President of Communications. Mike is also Vice President of Technical Programs for the Los Angeles / Orange County SMTA Chapter.

Visit the Reliability Matters Podcast Website:
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