mobile | classic
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology Magazine





Follow us on:
Follow us on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn


Search...

Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


 

Set-top boxes see light of day after a year of gestation
12 August 2015, This Week's Editor's Pick, News, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services

Almost a year has passed since the boss of one of South Africa’s largest contract electronics manufacturers took a trip to China to investigate the capabilities required, and the challenges to expect, for manufacturing a complete set-top box for SA’s eventual rollout of digital terrestrial television (DTT) broadcasts. Now Mike Goodyer, the CEO of Microtronix, has shared exclusively with Dataweek the news that the company has achieved that goal.

Mike Goodyer.
Mike Goodyer.

“Microtronix is currently producing a fully tested and functional set-top box (STB) ready for distribution to consumers,” he says. “Our plan was to start a low-volume rollout in January 2015 as a test and setup phase to ready the factory and train our staff for lager volume production. However, almost six months later we are only now starting our first production runs.”

The obstacles that led to this delay have been largely regulatory and political – the long-running DTT migration débâcle, largely the responsibility of the Department of Communications, has become the stuff of legend and something of a running joke – but Goodyer admits that the technical challenges have been far from trivial, and the learning curve steep.

Careful what you wish for

“My advice to anyone planning to make STBs for the upcoming USAASA (Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa) tender is not to underestimate the steps and setups required to get to this stage,” warns Goodyer. “Manufacturing these boxes at any reasonable rate does require a fair amount of automation and I would say this has been our biggest challenge.

“I know that there are a number of very good, small subcontractors in SA who are very capable of producing hundreds and even a few thousand printed circuit boards (PCB) on a daily or weekly basis by building in batches. Historically this has been the nature of Microtronix’ business in SA and, except for a very small number of contract manufacturers, the balance of the small companies have focused on high-quality, lower-volume runs. Every business owner dreams of that one big order requiring thousands or even tens of thousands of PCBs – but as the age old saying goes: ‘be careful what you wish for’.”

The wait is over

Goodyer acknowledges feeling a great deal of personal satisfaction while witnessing, in late July, the first STBs rolling off the company’s shiny new production lines dedicated to these products. “Although throughput started at a modest rate of about 28 seconds per box, the amount of planning, investment and hard work that it took us to get to that point cannot be overstated,” he explains.

“However, I am confident that Microtronix will be in line to get a substantial number of the government subsidised boxes for the upcoming rollout (due to be announced shortly) and therefore we hope the effort will pay off in the next year or two. The fact that we are currently producing boxes will give us a good head start when the volumes pick up.”

The manufacturer has set up four continuous assembly production lines in anticipation of the upcoming volume requirements, and plans to bring lines 2, 3 and 4 online within the next two months. “This will give us the capability to produce two different models of STB concurrently,” Goodyer reveals. “Microtronix has tendered together with its BEE partners – BUA Africa Telecommunications – and we expect to keep our own lines busy at around the 50% to 60% capacity mark. We have also made plans to offer at least 50% of our available capacity to smaller players who we are sure will also be successful in the STB tender process despite not having factories yet.”

It’s about more than just STB production runs

According to Goodyer, one of Microtronix’ objectives is to empower and help smaller manufactures to establish a footing in the industry, and help them to grow their plants during the course of the STB rollout. “Initially Microtronix will do all the SMD insertion and PCB assembly as well as testing of the PCBs. Later we will help our smaller partners to set up assembly lines, and then incorporate testing and wave soldering processes.”

Microtronix has very strong SMD capabilities and Goodyer envisages doing most of this type of assembly for its partners going forward. “This will effectively mitigate their risk and obviate the need to invest in huge SMD lines that could easily stand idle after the initial wave of boxes is complete. Microtronix currently runs four high-speed SMD production lines for STB and TV board production, in addition to four medium-volume lines for our customers in the industrial electronics sector.

“Our plan is to invest in at least two to three more high-speed SMD production lines and at least two more axial and radial machines to handle the through-hole insertion requirements on these PCBs. Microtronix is also in the process of building a new 6000 m2 factory to accommodate the new production requirements – we hope to be set up and running by December this year. My usual thanks go out to all our loyal customers and suppliers for their excellent support and service,” he concludes.

For more information contact Mike Goodyer, Microtronix, +27 (0)11 792 5322, mike@microtronix.co.za, www.microtronix.co.za


Credit(s)
Supplied By: Microtronix Manufacturing
Tel: +27 11 792 5322/3
Fax: 086 645 3955
Email: info@microtronix.co.za
www: www.microtronix.co.za
  Share on Facebook Share via Twitter Share via LinkedIn    

Further reading:

  • Things are tough for electronics contract manufacturers in SA
    23 October 2019, Barracuda Holdings, Leratadima Tellumat Manufacturing, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services
    The contract manufacturing side of the South African electronics industry has been under enormous pressure for some time now, with some high-profile manufacturers having closed their doors or suffering serious financial trouble in recent years.
  • Quality management based on quality assurance
    23 October 2019, Quamba Technologies, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services
    To ensure consistently high product quality and ultimately achieve a zero-fault production stage, it is necessary to control all process steps.
  • 3D printing and electronics manufacturing
    23 October 2019, Omnigo, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services
    “The opportunities are endless and we are excited to see what the future holds for 3D printing and the electronics manufacturing industry.” – Christine Brindle, Omnigo
  • Hensoldt merges its SA subsidiaries
    25 September 2019, News
    The company has merged its two South African subsidiaries, GEW Technologies and Hensoldt Optronics South Africa, into the consolidated Hensoldt South Africa brand.
  • Q&A with iPulse Systems
    25 September 2019, iPulse Systems, News
    We asked Gary Chalmers, the CEO of local developer and manufacturer iPulse Systems, to tell us what new and exciting technologies the company has been working on lately.
  • What can sport teach us about MRO procurement?
    28 August 2019, RS Components (SA), News
    Just like triathlon transitions, if you don?t respect the details and aren?t supportive about making manufacturing flexible, as a supplier you aren?t contributing to your customers? success.
  • AREI hosts industry for business breakfast
    28 August 2019, News
    Attendees of a business breakfast hosted by AREI (Association of Representatives for the Electronics Industry) on 24 July were treated to an inspirational talk by computer scientist and entrepreneur Stafford Masie.
  • Rugged Interconnect and Pentek further cement partnership
    31 July 2019, Rugged Interconnect Technologies, News
    In May this year, Rugged Interconnect Technologies hosted the co-founder and vice president of Pentek, Rodger Hosking, for a week-long visit to reinforce the two companies’ partnership in the South African market.
  • SA security manufacturers going strong
    31 July 2019, News
    Dataweek spoke to two of the leaders in the local market about what they do, what they’ve been up to, and what their plans are for the future.
  • The only constant is change
    31 July 2019, Microtronix Manufacturing, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services
    Change means different things to different people and organisations. It can mean the challenging of paradigms, disrupting performances that are embedded in comfort zones, seeking a better way, constant learning and improvement, and much more.
  • All in space is not rocket science
    31 July 2019, Elmatica, Manufacturing / Production Technology, Hardware & Services
    Elmatica, a Norwegian printed circuit board (PCB) broker that established an office in South Africa last year, has assisted a newcomer to the space satellite scene to put its satellites into space.
  • AI on a chip
    26 June 2019, News, This Week's Editor's Pick
    Researchers have created a machine learning library programmed in C that can run on microcontrollers, and on other platforms such as PCs, Raspberry PI and Android.

 
 
         
Contact:
Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd
1st Floor, Stabilitas House
265 Kent Ave, Randburg, 2194
South Africa
Publications by Technews
Dataweek Electronics & Communications Technology
Electronics Buyers’ Guide (EBG)

Hi-Tech Security Solutions
Hi-Tech Security Business Directory

Motion Control in Southern Africa
Motion Control Buyers’ Guide (MCBG)

South African Instrumentation & Control
South African Instrumentation & Control Buyers’ Guide (IBG)
Other
Terms & conditions of use, including privacy policy
PAIA Manual





 

         
    Classic | Mobile

Copyright © Technews Publishing (Pty) Ltd. All rights reserved.