Better Together: How HDP User Group Showcases the Industry’s Best Side


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Matties: That's nice, because you just mentioned the global aspect of this too. You get a nice viewpoint from all the different regions of the world that have their own issues, I guess.

Morgan: They do, but a lot in common. We have membership across the world, of course. I mentioned North American companies, but we have people from companies like Huawei in China, we have Panasonic, we have Hitachi, we have Shikoku, and we have Japanese manufacturers. We have European ones as well, in fact it started in Europe with Ericsson. That was the first member and we try to make sure that we go around the world with this. We try to involve people. Of course many companies, many members have organizations in all the regions of the world anyway, but some are unique to certain regions. Some have specific topics they want to discuss. Some test houses want to be involved in this perhaps. Some material suppliers may be interacting in one region. Solder manufacturers maybe or assemblers, so we have a really broad range of activities.

Matties: So for a material supplier, this is a great opportunity for them to come in and really introduce their materials into a solution and create a market.

Morgan: It's a kind of showcase sometimes for this, and secondly, it’s interesting that people don't think about it so much, but occasionally we get materials that are in beta phase, or late alpha in some cases, to put them through the methodology. Just to get a broad spectrum of testing that we do on a standardized method rather than local methods from the manufacturer. We often get materials that go through the testing phase and actually drop out at some stage. Then the manufacturer actually goes back, he refines the product and then brings it back later on into the process.

Matties: It's a nice proving ground.

Morgan: Exactly, and you're doing it against a standardized methodology that we've been using for probably over 10 years now. We have a really good database of knowledge and we know exactly how materials perform against each other.

Matties: Now the results from your efforts, how are those shared?

Morgan: Well, they're shared to the members primarily. They’re for the members and the members pay for activities, so they're shared with the members.

Matties: So they have the advantage?

Morgan: Yes, they do, but we publish lots of information. We did yesterday in fact. We published results on the high-frequency surface finishes or alternative oxidized finishes on materials. When we publish them, we tend to anonymize the data. We don't tell you which product behaved better than another one. We don't give that information, but we do share the general trends. So I could say, for example on the materials reliability projects, we have shown over time a move towards greater reliability in terms of thermal stress testing. So that's something that we've observed over the years. If we go back to the early days of lead-free, there were some failures going on. Now there are very, very few failures for thermal reasons.

On the other hand, we've seen an increase in failures on reliability testing, for example CAF testing. With features becoming smaller, these tests are becoming more aggressive. We've slightly increased in that area, so we publish that kind of data. In fact, I'm really pleased to say we've won a number of best paper awards. The last two years we've won the best paper award from our projects presented by one of our members at IPC APEX EXPO. So we do well, the papers are of high quality and  the information is eventually disseminated.

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Matties: The material suppliers are taking it to the open market.

Morgan: They do. Obviously the information is there for people to share. Members can also share information. It's at their discretion. We obviously don't receive any confidential information, by the way. We're very clear on that. The groups that we have are sharing data. If you want to make anything public to the group, then it's public at that point. It's entirely their choice, if they want to share their IP they can do that. Once they've shared it though, it's no longer confidential.

Everyone understands that, and it works well. We focus on things that aren't proprietary or aren't company IP related, but industry common problems that we can all benefit from. Every meeting we have, we start with that discussion just to make it clear to the members so they understand that. It works really well. I have to say, I'm very impressed with the way it runs.

Matties: Over the 26 years that HDP User Group has been around, what's been the greatest success? What's the crown jewel?

Morgan: Well, I'm biased on that. I would say it's probably materials and reliability testing, because that's been my career line.

Matties: How do you measure it though? Because you're talking about lowering costs in your mission statement.

Morgan: Well yes, we do.

Matties: Do you have any metrics that say...?

Morgan: We do. In fact, you'll see in our annual report we actually publish a chart of the leverage. And the leverage is massive, we're talking an average of around 20x on the dollar and some projects up to 40x, so that is really impressive. We take the testing we've done. We value the testing. We then divide that into the cost of the membership and you can come to that figure. We know what each member spends individually. We know what we've committed in terms of resources for the project. So we do measure that. But in the end, I think probably the best thing the group has done is bring the industry together. It's brought people together from all aspects, from the materials supplier to the manufacturers, to the OEMs, to the users, and actually formed a very nice group of very effective working teams whereby we can cover the whole supply chain and actually drive costs down. The whole thing.

I think if we were to quantify that in the way I've just mentioned, you'd probably find that we have really huge savings that have been made over the last 25 or so years.

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