Short discription: The production of electronics components and products is a strategic issue that has been neglected for a long time. Companies in Sweden and other high-cost countries in the West have adopted the strategy to outsource as much as possible to low-cost countries. The rationality of this decision is usually that the labor cost is too high. The labor cost is a product of salary level and work content. If the work content can be lowered, the possibility to profitably produce electronics products in high cost countries will increase. Traditionally, the industry has not prioritized this question and instead they have strived to make the designs independent of the production in order to be able to source it to an arbitrary supplier. By this behavior the industry has neglected the opportunity to compete through efficient production of products that are designed for rational manufacture and assembly.
The proposed project will focus on the possibilities to lower the work content from a systems perspective. The problem will be approached from two directions: from an electronics design point-of-view and from a production point-of-view. Concrete work tasks will be analyzed in chosen parts of the production facilities of the participating companies and the design decisions that have resulted in high manual work content will be tracked through the development process. New technology will be developed in the project with the purpose of minimizing manual work content and the effect of these technologies will be analyzed throughout the development process.
The most effective way of lowering the manual work content is to design the products with that in mind from the start. Within the frame of the project new technologies will be developed with the purpose of rationalising the production, foremost by reducing the number of components and by packing the circuits more efficiently. Two technologies will be developed to improve the heat dissipation at the systems level. Thermal interface materials (TIMs) will be developed based on composites containing metals and polymer nanofibers doped with carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Other solutions based on CNTs, including using CNTs as cooling fins or fillers of thermal vias, will also be studied to further improve the overall thermal dissipation. Both technologies have high potential for automation. New technology at circuit level will also be developed. There is a great potential of decreasing the number of components by creating more functionality in software with reconfigurable ICs. The problem with the present reconfigurable ICs is low energy efficiency. The ongoing FlexSoC project has lead to a processor core, whose behavior can be changed at run-time, allowing for software-driven reconfiguration. This project will further develop this technology and the heat dissipation technologies developed in the parallel subproject will be used to effectively cool and package the new circuits.
The analysis of design decisions throughout the development process will also result in a compilation of requirements on electronics product in order to make efficient to produce. Several companies are cooperating in the project based on their interest of the project’s overall vision and their individual interest in the technology development. The project involves research groups from three different departments at Chalmers University of Technology. The constellation is new for this project and is formed to create the necessary breadth and depth.