Q&A with Joel Scutchfield, General Manager and head of SMT sales, Koh Young America
Q: Before we dig into your plans and expectations for the future, let’s just touch base on 2021, a difficult year for many as we all worked hard to recover from the ravages of the pandemic. How was the year for Koh Young America?
A: 2021 turned out to be a record year for Koh Young America, both in terms of sales and machines. Of course, this can be partially attributed to the backlog and latent demand created by the shutdowns and slowdown in 2020, but the increased demand from key market sectors that use our systems really drove the growth. Markets like EV Automotive, Mil Aero, and Industrial, plus demand for systems that support the fight against COVID, like contactless solutions helped us reach a record year. Another big sector this year has been server and 5G infrastructure, as the demand for data and connectivity grows. Many of these sectors have huge growth potential going forward as well.
This is a good point to thank my predecessor, Juan Arango, who led us through the pandemic and into this record year. It was a joy to co-pilot Koh Young America with him. We all thank him and wish him the very best in his next adventure.
Q: You mentioned some sectors of growth for 2022. What are your overall expectations for the year to come?
A: Our outlook for 2022 is very positive at this point. We see continued strength in those markets I already mentioned. And we hold a very prominent, one might even say dominant, position in those markets. We have numerous interesting projects already underway in each one of those sectors.
I specifically mentioned EVs earlier. We’re also anticipating growth from the traditional automotive sector once the component shortages subside, allowing production to ramp to meet demand. It is hard to predict exactly when that might be, but I am hoping to see greater component availability by the fourth quarter of 2022. Regarding the deployment of our systems, we are seeing a growing trend and desire for pre-reflow inspection, as many of our customers look to use the data provided by their inspection solutions to improve processes and their overall production performance. This holistic approach of using SPI, Pre-Reflow AOI, and Post-Reflow AOI inspection data is part of many manufacturers’ drive to the smart factory.
We’ve been more than delighted with the industry’s response to the launch of the Neptune C+, dispensed process inspection system. In fact, the innovative measurement concept has already won three different awards from three different industry groups. Because of its inherent capabilities, customers are using the Neptune to inspect conformal coating, including thickness, underfill, epoxy, flux, as well as other materials like potting. In other applications, the system includes an integrated inverter or flipper inside our machine for applications where a double-sided inspection in a single machine is needed.
I can’t help being optimistic about 2022. We have market-leading systems that are under constant development to keep us ahead of the pack. We have a customer base that is really embracing the way we operate, from the exceptional solutions to the high levels of service and support. We see a market that is growing in size, in its use of inspection, and in its application of inspection data to drive towards ever smarter manufacturing and better business outcomes.
Q: Now you’ve got us excited about 2022, what about the first show of the year? What can we expect from Koh Young at apex 2022 in San Diego when the doors open on January 25th?
A: It’s been a strange time without trade shows and we are loving the chance to spend some quality face-to-face time with our customers, partners and prospects. We’ve fully committed to the show as its Premier Sponsor and our booth will be just as impressive as in 2020, with a similar number of machines and a keen focus on our KSMART software.
We’ll be showing how our unique and exclusive data set from KSMART and KPO (Koh Young Printer Optimizer) help manufacturers achieve a smart factory. We see data as a key differentiator between inspection system providers going forward. We’ve talked repeatedly about data being the currency for the smart factory, but you must have a certain data set to be able to achieve a truly smart solution. We feel strongly that Koh Young is the only provider that can generate the “right kind” of measurement-based, parametric, objective data. We collect it in the right way with very accurate and repeatable subsystems that gather the necessary amount of data to be useful for AI, which makes the automatic adjustments to create a self-healing SMT line.
REGARDING THE DEPLOYMENT OF OUR SYSTEMS, WE ARE SEEING A GROWING TREND AND DESIRE FOR PRE-REFLOW INSPECTION, AS MANY OF OUR CUSTOMERS LOOK TO USE THE DATA PROVIDED BY THEIR INSPECTION SOLUTIONS TO IMPROVE PROCESSES AND THEIR OVERALL PRODUCTION PERFORMANCE.
We will also be promoting our new Neptune C+, DPI (Dispensed Process Inspection) system, for 3D inspection of conformal coating, underfill and other dispensed materials, all at production rates.
Our KY-P3 pin and terminal inspection machine will be at APEX showing how we can inspect all kinds of pins and terminals in true 3D form, including the gap on fork terminals. We also inspect pins inside a connector shroud for length, pin-to-pin distance, and perpendicularity. We see this as a growing need on the backend of PCB assembly, especially as the server, communication and automotive sectors continue their growth trends.
WE’VE BEEN MORE THAN DELIGHTED WITH INDUSTRY’S RESPONSE TO THE LAUNCH OF THE NEPTUNE C+, DISPENSED PROCESS INSPECTION SYSTEM. IN FACT, THE INNOVATIVE MEASUREMENT CONCEPT HAS ALREADY WON THREE DIFFERENT AWARDS FROM THREE DIFFERENT INDUSTRY GROUPS.
Another growth area is pre-reflow AOI. As we all continue the drive toward a smart factory, we need additional inspection points in the line to provide comprehensive, accurate feedback to help the line make the adjustments needed to become self-healing. Having pre-reflow AOI allows us to provide real-time feedback to the manufacturer regarding component absence, polarity, and more. Yet, the pre-reflow AOI really helps with feedback to the mounter for positional adjustments and issues related to a specific feeder, spindle, or nozzle. These are anomalies that you don’t want to adjust using results from a post reflow AOI, because of the possibility of movement of parts in the reflow process. Pre-reflow AOI is ideal to minimize repair and scrap.
And of course, along with our standard market leading AOI systems, we’ll also be highlighting our award-winning 8030-3 SPI with integrated dispenser for automated repair capability. We will also feature the KPO Printer in conjunction with an MPM Momentum printer and Iljin conveyor set to demonstrate an automated print process.
The last two featured systems in our booth this year are the premium Zenith 2 AOI with side cameras and the Meister D for semiconductor and highly-reflective silicon die applications.
Q: That’s a lot for visitors to explore. What are your expectations of the show?
A: We are very optimistic about the turnout at APEX this year. It’s been two years, and we think people are ready to get out and see all that’s new. We saw a reduction in the number of visitors to SMTA International compared to previous years. I’d suggest that some people had to make a choice for which show to visit because they are so close together, just from November to January. So, I’m expecting that those who opted not to visit SMTAi, will come to APEX instead.
For some, SMTAi might have just been too soon to get back out there. We have heard from a good number of customers that they plan to attend, so assuming we stay on the right downward COVID trajectory, we’re expecting good show traffic at this point.
APEX is an important show for us, so we’ll be there in force. We’ll have plenty happening on the booth as well as engaging with all the attending media. What’s more, we have co- authored and will be presenting a paper about securely exchanging data between design and manufacturing using IPC-2581 (DPMX) and IPC-2591 (CFX) standards with the committee leaders. Building on that paper, we are also presenting a poster session about leveraging the IPC-CFX Qualified Product List (QPL) for a smart factory. In fact, we also have a feature position in the Factory of the Future pavilion across the aisle from our booth. We are proud to be a premium sponsor for the show, so, as you can see, we’re all in! We have continued to gain even more market share through the pandemic, and that will be crystal clear at the show.