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Keeping the electronics industry moving forward

Karen Mascarenhas, MASCARENHAS PR speaks with Debbie Wade, Managing Director, Advanced Rework Technology about its IPC certification programme – the most widely usedspecification for the electronics

debbie wade receives an award on behalf of advanced rework technology

Interview Section 1

Having visited your company in Witham, I am interested to know the history behind it.

It is going to sound cliché when I say the company started from humble beginnings but with Advanced Rework Technology that is the case. The company was started by my father, Barry Morris nearly 35 years ago. He had many years of experience within the electronics industry, especially as a lecturer at Marconi College. Barry started his career as an apprentice wireman/assembler before progressing to training apprentices at Marconi, Basildon. With this teaching experience Barry moved to Marconi Collage in Chelmsford where he trained people from around the world in the principles and techniques of repairing printed circuit boards. During this time Barry was the first instructor to present a hands-on course for Surface Mount Rework within the UK. When the college closed, Barry and another Marconi lecturer started Advanced Rework Technology.

The work that you undertake is so vital and yet highly specialised so what led you towards this career path?

I have always had an interest in how things worked and could be built better. As a child I would always take my electronic toys and games apart. Due to this intrinsic interest, I studied mechanical and manufacturing engineering at college specialising in electronics, but it was my father who encouraged me into the instructor field. After the completion of my studies, I worked within electronics manufacturing and spent many years working for a class 3 military manufacturer. I returned to the area where I was raised, local to Advanced Rework Technology and started working for my father’s company, a little over 22 years ago.

Interview Section 2

Debbie, year after year, I see you continue to win key awards within the electronics industry, so I am keen to know how you achieve this with such regularity?

Karen, I think that is a question you should ask my customers, colleagues, and peers! It is always a great honour to be nominated, it always takes me by surprise to hear my name or company read out as winners and I am so grateful for the recognition and support from the industry. I have a great passion for the industry, and for teaching and that can be seen during my presentations. I have satisfaction knowing this rubs off on those I teach, giving them the knowledge and skills to pass on and providing them with the confidence to use this information. I cannot take all the credit myself, as I owe a lot to the great team at ART, without them many of our achievements would not be possible.

Having written for companies within the defence, space, aerospace, and oil & gas sectors, I have come to realise that catastrophic disasters can emanate from the smallest errors or component failures – bringing entire systems down. Do companies realise the importance of your training facilities?

Yes, I believe most companies understand the importance of training and skill enhancement, whether internal training or using an external training provider. Over many years, we have seen a large increase in training needs from large OEMs to smaller CEMs as they appreciate having recognised training puts them head and shoulders above the rest. It indicates that all companies, big and small, are investing in the quality of their products and personnel.

I am so impressed with your commitment in terms of time and expense given to the voluntary aspect of your IPC contributions and would like you to expand on this aspect of your work and its impact, internationally.

My IPC committee work started back in 2002 at my first IPC standards development and training meetings held in New Orleans. My reasons for working on these committees far outweighs the cost implications on my company. One of these reasons goes back to your second question and I answered that I have an interest in how things work and how things can be built better. Working with experts within their particular field in these committees helps me gain all of the information I need to learn how processes can be improved and to impart during my training sessions.

Interview Section 3

ART is highly active within the IPC training committees. This allows us to work with the IPC training development staff to release the best possible training courses to the industry.

I was honoured to be bestowed the IPC Presidents Award in 2017.

Being an active committee member can place a large strain on company resources, for this reason I worked with IPC many years ago to develop regional committees for standards development, standards steering and training. Not only do we have these regional committees in Europe but also Nordic, China, and beyond.

Bergamo in Italy is associated with the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, yet it is now the leading centre for training facilities, I understand, to implement and facilitate the latest IPC protocols. Would you like to expand on this?

Bergamo only really became well known due to the global COVID pandemic but many of our customers were familiar with the name for a while as ART Europe, Leading Edge Training centre officially opened January 2019.

The reasons to expand into Europe were purely for workload and addressing the needs of our customer in mainland Europe. We had to make provisions for Brexit, too, as no one was fully aware of the implications of leaving the EU, visas,
free travel etc, so we made the decision to open a site in mainland Europe to assist our customers and having two sites now allows for us to also offer more courses, training dates, and locations to cater for current and new customer needs.

Our highly experienced trainers at our Bergamo site specialise in the IPC design qualifications and conduct the Certified Interconnect Design and Enhanced Interconnect Design classes at both training sites. We are aware that IPC certification may not be a requirement for each production facility, so we pride ourselves in the bespoke training syllabuses to suit the needs of the company or individual job role.

Both of our training facilities can offer the following IPC training at all levels of training: Certified IPC Trainer (CIT), Certified IPC Specialist (CIS), and Certified Standards Expert (CSE).

Interview Section 4

I asked about ART’s competitors and was really astonished to learn that you trained two of your competitors … why?

This is a great question Karen, and the answer will always be the same. Every company has competition and there is nothing I can do to prevent that, but I am confident the training that my competitors then go on to present to others will be the best possible training, as they were
originally trained by our highly skilled and experienced trainers at ART. One great benefit of the trainers at ART being active IPC committee members, as they don’t only know that there has been a change to an IPC document or standard, but they also know why the change was made. This makes the training provided by ART, whether it’s to our competitors or customers, more in-depth.

Given the current interest in AI, can you suggest if it has impacted or can influence training – both = positively and negatively? Do you envisage any precautions that we need to undertake to ensure safety?

A computer is only as good as the person that programmed it. This should be a point of concern for the entire industry, but I feel, if used correctly within manufacturing that there is scope for advantage with the use of AI. Precautions I would like to address would be quality assurance as the human eye is generally better than that of a machine.

Climate change is our greatest existential crisis so are you able to say if energy companies are using your resources to optimise their operational equipment – even if it is via OEMs and not directly?

Controlling the process to bring down the need for rework, repairs, and modifications is vital when it comes to energy efficiency. This is where I would always recommend consultancy services alongside training to assist with setting up and controlling the process. This will ensure that the process is accurate and will stay in control bringing down production costs, reducing waste, and decreasing man hours used for scrap, rework, and repair. Training and consultancy will assist each company with their environment controls.

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