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Articles from 2018 In January

Toray Plastics (America) launches third generation of Torayfan polypropylene packaging films

Toray Plastics (America) launches third generation of Torayfan polypropylene packaging films

Torayfan CB3Consumer demand for fresh, shelf-stable food in transparent packaging and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies’ preference for a PVDC-free, high-barrier film have driven the development of a third generation of Torayfan film by Toray Plastics (America). A subsidiary of Tokyo-based Toray Industries, the company is headquartered in North Kingstown, RI.

The new Torayfan CB3 portfolio is manufactured with Toray’s proprietary formulation and a patented PVDC-free coating. The films feature oxygen- and moisture-barrier protection and are available in sealable and non-sealable versions. The robust 70- and 80-gauge CB3 films are an alternative to thicker OPP films and enable source reduction, yield and economic benefits.

The films are sufficiently strong to withstand the rigors of laminating and converting processes without any degradation to barrier performance. All CB3 films are manufactured at Toray’s world-class site in North Kingstown, RI. Applications include bags, pouches and stand-up pouches containing nuts, seeds, salted snacks, cookies, dried fruit and confectionery items.

“These are very sophisticated films that combine a modified base film and complex coating to achieve impressive barrier properties,” said Tammy Williamson, Associate Product Manager of the Torayfan Polypropylene Films Division. “In addition, consumers today want to see the item they are purchasing; it helps them feel confident that the food and ingredients are fresh. CB3 films offer the transparency and freshness protection they expect.”

Williamson added that Toray’s new CB3 technology has an oxygen transmission rate of 0.06 cc/100 in²/day at 73°F, 0% RH, without any compromise to moisture-barrier properties. The previous generation of CB films has an O2TR value of 0.25. In cases where end users are using a lamination made with PVDC-coated PET and a sealant web, the CB3 OPP films offer a significant improvement in both moisture and oxygen barrier.

“Also important is CPG companies’ preference that PVDC be eliminated from packaging because of environmental concerns. They appreciate Toray’s commitment to sustainability,” Williamson said. “Now manufacturers are able to specify a transparent package with even greater shelf stability, without PVDC issues.”

Williamson noted that the CB3 films are also an alternative to acrylic-coated and AlOx-coated films, EVOH sealant web films and metalized BOPP films. They run on vertical and horizontal form, fill and seal equipment.


Vecoplan calls for a greater acceptance of recycled plastics

Vecoplan calls for a greater acceptance of recycled plastics

VecopnanVecoplan AG (Bad Marienberg, Germany) produces machinery and plants for shredding, conveying and processing primary and secondary raw materials captured in recycling processes. The manager of its recycling division, Stefan Kaiser, recently shared his views on the recycling economy and how it can be improved. “The recycling economy is one of the greatest challenges of the future,” said Kaiser. “It will help to improve the overall image of the plastics industry, from the producer and processor to the recycler. We must learn to appreciate that we need to deal with plastics more sustainably.”

While Kaiser acknowledges that plastics recycling lags behind recovery of other materials such as glass, metal and paper, he cites the wide variety of plastic materials that go into the recycling stream. “We have a broad mix of plastics that are put into circulation,” he said. These are often materials which are not made from a monopolymer but from several plastics, such as multi-layer films.

“At the same time, different plastics are mixed in one product. The more compounds one creates, the more difficult it is to separate these from one another. Recycling is then correspondingly laborious and expensive. Therefore, it is important to think about the recycling capability right at the product design stage. One possibility, for example, would be to produce a film from only one plastic and, in return, make it somewhat thicker.”

While this might make the product more expensive, Kaiser notes that costs have to be considered “over the whole life cycle of a product. It then becomes clear that even if a company produces highly economically, it is only efficient if recycling is not too laborious. Those who market plastic products should think about how sustainably their products can be used,” said Kaiser.

While getting government involved through legislation and regulation processes has some benefits, Kaiser believes it is up to industry to “emphasize the advantages” of plastic and to “show where it is used and what benefits it brings.” It will also require education in recycling “to demonstrate what is possible with recycling and how recycled materials can be used.”

One of the challenges in recycling is the quality of the recycled materials, which has “improved considerably” in recent years, commented Kaiser. With the latest processing techniques, higher quality of recycled plastics is possible. However, Kaiser noted that he thinks the main problem lies in creating acceptance of these materials by the consumer. Recycled plastics may be the better option, but it is also necessary for recycled materials to comply with the necessary standards required for end-use products.

Injection molders have told Kaiser that the properties of the processed recycled material must be equal to that of virgin resin. “Many companies still believe that secondary plastics are difficult to handle and jeopardize reliable production,” said Kaiser, who acknowledged that recycled plastics are not the same as virgin resin. “For each product, the processor should ask whether new material is necessary or whether recycled material is sufficient. What is necessary to achieve acceptance by the consumer, by the processors and their customers?

“Only [acceptance of] these recycled plastics will drive manufacturers to produce higher quality products from recycled materials,” Kaiser added. “The quantities will then be sufficiently large to make it worthwhile—the greater the acceptance, the lower the price.”

Kaiser also explained how bio-materials might affect recycling. Biobased plastics are produced organically, for example, from corn starch. Bio-plastics can be divided into biobased and biologically degradable plastics. “I think their use is critical; in the case of biobased plastics, I can definitely see a possibility, particularly when fossil materials have been used up and sustainable raw materials increase in importance,” Kaiser commented.

"The end product has the same properties as a product made from refined oil, and requires a similarly long time to decompose,” said Kaiser. “In recycling, the material is treated in exactly the same way as any other plastic. On the other hand, degradable plastics only have the basic form and behave like a plastic. To process them so that they can be recycled is more difficult. But, in return, they can decompose—not as quickly as a banana, but still faster than a normal plastic bag, which needs approximately 450 years to do so.

“When composting bio-plastics, higher temperatures and moisture can accelerate the decomposition process. In spite of this, consumers should not be fooled into thinking that bio-plastics are the answer.” 


Varian to Acquire Embattled Sirtex for $1.3B

RK008/ Varian to Acquire Embattled Sirtex for $1.3B

Varian Medical Systems has revealed plans to acquire interventional oncology specialist Sirtex Medical for $1.3 billion. The proposed acquisition comes about a year after the New South Wales, Australia-based company fired CEO Gilman Wong, following an investigation into his share trading.

In January 2017, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Wong was terminated after an investigation revealed he received $2.1 million from the sale of shares in Sirtex about one day after he told investors at the company’s annual general meeting that the company expected “double-digit” dose sales in 2017.

Wong was replaced in June 2017 by 20-year industry veteran Andrew McLean.

Sirtex is still facing two class action lawsuits stemming from improper trading.

In addition to its woes with its former CEO, Sirtex also failed to meet endpoints for several of its clinical trials in 2017, costing the company millions in R&D. As a result, Sirtex cut 15% of its workforce.

“Clearly the company has had a lot of distractions over the last year and half,” Varian CEO Dow Wilson said during a conference call Tuesday. “I think the [new] CEO and commercial team are very focused right now. It has been a large period of turmoil for them. The company has a very good plan…”

Sirtex’s lead product is the SIR-Spheres, a targeted internal radiation therapy for certain liver cancers. The microspheres have PMA approval, CE mark, and a nod from the Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration, but the approvals limit the use of the technology to a subset of patients and chemotherapeutic agents.

Varian specializes in cancer treatment devices, such as linear accelerators, simulators, and afterloaders, so the acquisition would be perfect fit, Wilson said.

“This acquisition is the latest step in Varian's long-term strategy to become a global leader in multi-disciplinary integrated cancer care solutions,” Wilson said. “The combination of the two companies will expand the reach of the Sirtex platform by making it more broadly available to the clinical community.”

Sirtex brought in about $234 million in sales and has about 300 employees worldwide.

“Our view is this interventional oncology market is a new and emerging pillar in cancer therapy and is going to be an important one in all of its flavors,” Wilson said. “This gives us a very good platform position to be entering into our market that’s very closely related to our radiation strategy.”

The acquisition has been unanimously approved by the boards of each company. Sirtex said it would appoint an independent expert to determine if the transaction is in the best interests of shareholders.

Varian’s price of $22.5 for each Sirtex share represents a 49% mark-up on the January 29 closing price of $15.51 and a 60% premium to the average price over January.

Sirtex said that although its board had not put the company up for sale, it had received a number of unsolicited takeover proposals from credible parties late in 2017.

The deal is set to close in May.

Can New CEO Save Zimmer Biomet?

Zimmer Biomet Can New CEO Save Zimmer Biomet?
Bryan Hanson is the new president and CEO of Zimmer Biomet. The position became vacant last July when David Dvorak resigned amid investor frustration. 

Bryan Hanson knew when he accepted the job of CEO of Zimmer Biomet in December that he had a tall order to fill. The company has struggled with quality control and supply chain problems since December 2016, which has created investor frustration that ultimately led to former CEO David Dvorak's resignation last July.

In his six weeks on the job, Hanson said he has come to realize that the company's current challenges are even more complex than he had anticipated. But during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call this week, MD+DI identified five reasons that Zimmer Biomet could make a comeback under Hanson's leadership.

1. Trust Matters

Hanson said he has spent "as much time as I possibly can with the commercial team so far," including time in the field working one-on-one with sales staff, visiting customers, going to cases, and essentially trying to spend a day walking in their shoes. 

"I've had really good exposure early on to the organization," he said, according to Seeking Alpha transcripts of the call.

That time on the ground could go a long way toward rebuilding the trust that was lost over the past year.

"There's just a lack of trust right now from the sales organization for corporate," Hanson said. "We have given them timelines that we have failed on and they've gone out, through the information they have received from us, approached the customer, only to have to pull back again."

That lack of trust between the sales team and the management team is going to create a situation where even when the company has the supply available, the sales force is going to wait until they feel confident enough in what they are being told to relay the information to the customers.

"I've been in sales and I understand the process, it isn't a light switch that occurs," Hanson said.

That said, Hanson said he is "very confident" in the company's sales organization based on his interactions in the field over the past six weeks.

"But what I see inside of it though, and what I'm hearing from the organization is there has been what I would define as a lack of focus from senior leadership and engagement with the sales organization," Hanson said. "They felt a little orphaned if you will, and that’s going to change. It's changed already."

2. Realistic Expectations

Previously, Zimmer Biomet told investors to anticipate full resolution of the company's manufacturing and supply issues during the second quarter of 2018. That could still happen, but Hanson cautioned that things like this don't always go according to plan and that he sees "more risk than opportunity" with the current recovery timeline. He did say he is confident that the company now has the right overall strategy in place to turn things around.

Long term, a leader that values transparency and sets realistic expectations for complex projects is better for an organization than an overly confident leader who sets unrealistic expectations.

Hanson promised to provide more details on the company's recovery progress during the first-quarter earnings call when the company provides its full-year guidance. He did hint, however, that a full recovery is likely to roll into next year.

"I see this as a gradual revenue recovery into 2019," Hanson said. "As we get smarter on the topic and burn down some of these risks through the milestones, we'll give you more insight, but that's where my thinking is right now."

3. Smarter Spending

Smart business leaders understand that you have to spend money to make money.

"We've got to have investment," Hanson said. "As an organization, we've been chasing the bottom line because we've had top line misses."

He said the company would concentrate on investing for growth as a primary vehicle for growth. That means earmarking money for R&D as well as investing in the commercial structure to support the existing portfolio.

"We've got to spend more on research and development and bring on innovations that don't just help us in the near term, but also help us in the longer term," Hanson said.

On the commercial side, he said he sees room for broader investments to "be able to have more feet on the street," to drive the portfolio that Zimmer Biomet already has and take advantage of the new products already in the pipeline.

4. Closing the Culture Gap

Hanson got on a soapbox when one analyst referred to the company as "Zimmer."

"This is Zimmer Biomet, not Zimmer," Hanson said. "I think it's important because one of the key things that I'm going to be concentrating on is the culture in this organization."

In a way, he said, the company just hasn't become a fully integrated new organization since the 2015 merger of Zimmer and Biomet, which were formally two rivals that both called Warsaw, IN home.

"There are still camps of Zimmer and Biomet and we need to create Zimmer Biomet, forget the legacy companies," Hanson said.

A more subtle distinction was made in the way Hanson referred to the manufacturing facility where the quality control issues occurred. During earnings calls last year the management team often referred to it as "the legacy Biomet facility." During Tuesday's call, that facility was referred to as "the North Campus."

5. Right Leader, Right Time

Finally, it may sound corny, but Tuesday's call really seemed to provide a sense of reassurance that Hanson is the type of leader that Zimmer Biomet needs right now. 

He joined the company from Medtronic where he was an executive vice president and head of the minimally invasive therapies group. Before that he was a group vice president of Covidien's medical device arm, so he probably knows a thing or two about mega-mergers and that is, perhaps, the reason he is a stickler for closing that culture gap and truly integrating the company into one "Zimmer Biomet."

From the sounds of it, the sales organization has also responded positively to Hanson's willingness to pound the pavement with them, so to speak, and other efforts he has made to engage with them.

Dan Florin, the company's CFO who also served as the interim president and CEO after Dvorak resigned last year, said he noticed a difference at a recent sales kickoff meeting where Hanson spoke to a room full of sales team members.

"Having been to a number of these sales meetings before, I can tell you the energy, the enthusiasm, and excitement of our sales team is off the charts compared to where it's been," Florin said. "Bryan did a terrific job and really connected with the sales team."

Plastics can help make Trump’s infrastructure plan truly great

Plastics can help make Trump’s infrastructure plan truly great

The plastics industry has a constructive role to play in the infrastructure plan mentioned by President Trump in his State of the Union speech last night, a point made by William Carteaux, President and CEO of the PLASTICS Industry Association (PLASTICS; Washington, DC). 

“Plastic materials and products should be allowed to compete on a level playing field for the improvement projects that will eventually form the president’s infrastructure plan,” said Carteaux in a statement issued following the address. “Plastic materials can perform as well, or better, than more traditional materials, and often at a fraction of the cost to the American taxpayer.”

Living in the Los Angeles area, I confess that I am as concerned with the state of our roads as I am of the state of the union, and Carteaux's statement reminded me of a project in the Netherlands that has some relevance.

Those “gleaming new roads” that the President wants to build “across our land?” I have just one word for him: Plastics. Back in 2015, I wrote about a pilot project in Rotterdam that would pave new roads with recycled plastic bottles. There are numerous advantages to replacing asphalt with plastic, according to Dutch construction firm VolkerWessels (Amersfoort) , which is spearheading the project: Reduced maintenance, increased temperature resistance and accelerated road laying, which would take weeks instead of months. The surface lasts three times longer than asphalt, adds the company, and it is lighter and hollow, making it easier to install cables and pipelines below the surface.

The sections can be prefabricated in a factory and transported to the construction site, shortening construction time and reducing congestion caused by roadwork.

The PlasticRoad consortium claims that its roadways last three times longer than conventional paved roads and reduce construction time by as much as 70%. Image courtesy PlasticRoad.

Since we published that article, VolkerWessels has teamed up with recycler Wavin, which has its headquarters in Zwolle, Netherlands, and French petrochemicals company Total (Courbevoie) to form PlasticRoad, a consortium that is developing a business case and building a prototype of the road of the future.

Yes, this is not shovel-ready and would require R&D resources, but the technology has immense potential and helps to solve several problems in one fell swoop. Worth a look, no?

In his statement, Carteaux also urged policymakers not to overlook the nation’s recycling facilities when it comes to upgrades. “This push to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure presents a unique opportunity to increase the amount of plastic our country recycles and to facilitate growth in the market. A national effort to upgrade these facilities would both support business and employment growth in recycled plastics while simultaneously reducing waste.”

Hitting on another theme of the State of the Union address, Carteaux said that the plastics industry shared the president’s support for strong, mutually beneficial trade agreements. “The North American plastics industry has been in lockstep when it comes to enhancing the benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and we look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure that this and other trade agreements are as strong as they can possibly be.”

It should be noted, however, that as recently as earlier this month in Davos, Switzerland, Trump told CBS News: “I may terminate NAFTA. I may not. We’ll see what happens.” Pulling out of NAFTA would be consequential for the U.S. plastics industry, which “ran a surplus of $10.7 billion with Mexico and $719 million with Canada in 2016,” said Carteaux during a December 2017 webcast. “That would not have been possible without NAFTA,” he added.


The Countdown to Implementing ISO 13485:2016

freeGraphicToday/ The Countdown to Implementing ISO 13485:2016

Have you started implementing ISO 13485:2016 yet?

If not, I’m afraid I have to tell you that you’re lagging behind at this point. You have one year to go before compliance is an absolute requirement.

Did you just break out in a cold sweat? Not to worry. You do have time to act, but you need to do so now. Here’s what you need to know with one year left to go…

Jon Speer will present on this topic, “Have You Made the Leap: Implementing ISO 13485,” at the 2018 MD&M West conference. Greenlight Guru will also be exhibiting at the MD&M West Expo (Booth #520). Use promo code "MDDI" for 20% off conference registration and free expo access

The Time to Act on ISO 13485:2016 Is Now

ISO 13485 was revised back in March 2016 and has a three-year adoption period. If you were certified under the previous version, you must be recertified by March 2019.

Many people still seem to think that they have plenty of time to get this sorted out, but I’m here to present the case that you really do not. The time to get moving is now.

A lot will be dependent on your registrar, the ISO-authorized auditor that comes in to inspect your company. Expect them to have a heavy workload and busy timelines with the changes happening. It may take them six to nine months before they can come in to do a recertification.

For your business, this means you only really have about three months to get some important things rolling that need to be done to prepare for certification. If you don’t yet have a copy of the ISO 13485:2016 standard, please make that your first order of business. There are quite a number of differences between it and the old standard, all of which you’ll need to familiarize yourself with.

These are not trivial changes. Once you get a copy, read the standard, but I’d encourage you to go to Annex A, near the end of the document, first. This compares the clauses of the 2003 version to the 2016 version to help paint a picture for you of what is different. Some might seem trivial or just a simple re-wording, but there are plenty of changes that are actually significant. Get the lay of the land by turning to Annex A first to understand what you’re up against.

Assess Your Current State

Now, assuming you have a quality system in place, you’re going to need to dive in, assess your current quality system and conduct a GAP analysis, a form of audit that helps you to analyze the differences between what you have and the 2016 standard. We have a checklist to make a full comparison. You can download that free from the box link in this article.

Procrastination: Could it Pay Off?

There is a caveat you should know about. At this point, your procrastination over preparing for ISO 13485:2016 may not have been without merit. There’s another new international initiative coming in to affect companies, particularly those looking to go into Canada or other markets, and that’s the Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP). This is mandatory for Health Canada and effective about a year from now also.

What does this mean? If you’re conducting a GAP analysis for the 2016 version of the 13485 standard, I’d encourage you to look at MDSAP at the same time if it will impact your company. Look for the gaps that you need to fix in order to meet both.

Document a Plan

Once you go through the GAP analysis, it will identify the processes and procedures that need updating. You’ll then know how big a job you have ahead of you, and it’s a good idea to prepare a plan to take you through these quality system updates. Somewhere along the way, you should be in communication with your registrar and have a timeline for when you can expect to be audited, so that you know what you need to have done and by when to meet expectations.

Your documented plan to meet the requirements of the new standard is an excellent thing to have to serve as a body of evidence for an auditor. It shows that you’ve done your homework and put some thought into how your company will comply. I’ve heard of plenty of companies that already went through the 2016 update followed this exact approach and commented that the ISO auditor actually spent a lot of time reviewing their GAP analysis and quality plans. These went a long way toward the successful outcome of their 2016 certification process.

Prioritize the Key Things

As you start to identify gaps and capture this information in a quality plan, there will be things that you need to update. You probably don’t have infinite resources available, so you’re going to need to prioritize. Put the high time, effort, and attention items at the top of the pile and allocate resources to them.

You need to elevate the priority of preparing for ISO 13485:2016. This is now an imminent need. Even if this means you need to put some development on hold, it’s important that you do what is required to get it done. If you do not, you may not get your certification on time and this will preclude you from participating in certain markets. You got your certification to begin with in order to gain market entry, right? This could have a serious bottom-line impact on your business.

Set up a schedule, be realistic, but be as aggressive with it as possible. Ideally, you want to be able to verify that any changes you make are effective prior to having your ISO certification visit.

There are a couple of areas I encourage you to dive into in more detail, largely because (as you will probably recognize) these often get a lot of focus at audits. One of those is supplier management. This is especially as it relates to identifying risk-based processes with your suppliers.

Another area is CAPA. These are consistently the number one reason why companies registered with FDA get warning letters or observations. Spend some time looking at your complaints and customer feedback because these are often a focus. Do you have good, sound risk-based processes?

Key Takeaways

The time to prepare for implementation of ISO 13485:2016 is now. Further delays will risk that you don’t have recertification on time (by March 2019).

Take the following key steps if you haven’t yet started:

  • Get a copy of ISO 13485:2016 and familiarize yourself with it
  • Pay particular attention to Annex A where key differences are outlined
  • Look also at the new MDSAP if you’re planning on being in the Canadian market
  • Make contact with your ISO registrar and establish a timeline
  • Conduct a GAP analysis of your quality systems
  • Write a quality plan for making any required updates
  • Prioritize tasks—devote resources to getting these things done so that you can obtain your certification on time

Remember, your ISO registrar can also be a good source of information. Try to work with them and develop a clear understanding of what they’ll be looking for. You’re more likely to do well with a well-documented, clearly structured plan rather than trying to scramble through at the last minute!

SI, PI, and EMI Have a Simpler, More Integrated Future

 SI, PI, and EMI Have a Simpler, More Integrated Future

If you want to think about where signal integrity (SI), power integrity (PI), and electromagnetic integrity (EMI) are going in the next five years, the first thing you need to do is stop thinking about them separately.

“SI, PI, and EMI won't be three technologies anymore. We're going to have to deal with them all simultaneously,” Steve Sandler, Managing Director at Picotest, told the DesignCon 2018 audience at a keynote panel, “SI/PI & EMI Challenges: Looking Ahead Through 2023.”

Sandler and a group of panelists that included Istvan Novak, Senior Principal Engineer at Oracle; Eric Bogatin, an Adjunct Professor at University of Colorado's Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering; Alfred Neves, Chief Technologist at Wild River Technology; and Kenneth Wyatt, Senior EMC Engineer at Wyatt Technical Services, all concluded that the proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, coupled with new forms of computing and emerging technologies like autonomous vehicles, is going to conflate signal, power, and electromagnetism concerns in ways that will present brand new challenges for engineers and force experts in one area to gain experience in the others, as well.

Panelists at the DesignCon 2018 keynote,“SI/PI & EMI Challenges: Looking Ahead Through 2023" agreed SI, PI, and EMI will become integrated disciplines by 2023. (L to R) Steve Sandler, Istvan Novak, Kenneth Wyatt, Alfred Neves, and Eric Bogatin.
 (Image source: Design News) 

“The electromagnetic environment in hospitals, homes, vehicles, and what we carry on our bodies is becoming increasingly crowded and interconnected.” Wyatt said. “As these system proliferate they need to be compatible and will tax the available RF spectrum. Increasing spectrum allocation for things such as 5G and vehicle systems will present challenges to product designers, spectrum managers, and EMC engineers.”

Nevermind that a device as common as a microwave can still interfere with Wi-Fi signals. The University of Colorado's Bogatin said that emerging and future technologies such as augmented reality, man-machine interfaces, quantum computing, and even the maker movement are bringing even more complex technologies to fruition that will only further crowd the RF spectrum and create new issues for engineers and product designers. “Think of technology as a yin and a yang, a blessing and curse. A killer app is the blessing, but it can also come with unintended consequences.”

“We can't really partition these three disciplines into three separate categories anymore,” Wyatt said. “As we approach data rates of 40 Ghz and higher it's true we need to consider the physics of the board but there's obvious intersections between the disciplines.”

For his own part, Neves of Wild River Technology, a signal integrity expert, advocated for simplification as the future of signal integrity. “We're going to have to get back to work and understand what's happening to power and energy flow in our systems.”

Neves touched on an issue that all the panelists agreed will be at the forefront as SI, PI, and EMI issues become more intertwined – the lack of practical, basic engineering education in these fields. “Most product designers don't understand the basics of how energy moves in transition lines,” Wyatt said. “...We need to ensure we're really focusing on the basics of all these disciplines and how we can empower product designers in the trenches.”

“Education is the key. It is quite obvious we will all have to learn about the other disciplines,” Oracle's Novak, a 20-year veteran of DesignCon, added. “I think each company has to do a better job integrating these things.” Bogatin echoed Novak's statements, noting that companies are often organized so that SI, PI, and EMI are separate disciplines that can easily come into conflict, particularly during product testing. “How do your organize for holistic approach?” he asked.

Neves shared an anecdote about John Coltrane with the audience. It was said that when Coltrane's friends came to visit they wouldn't even bother knocking if they didn't hear him playing the trumpet, because if Coltrane wasn't playing the trumpet, he wasn't home. Neves' point was to outline the importance of personal commitment for engineers to overcome challenges, and to step up and take initiative in places where formal education is lacking.

“I don't think [professors] are teaching the art of engineering, except in a few cases,” he said. “The reality is that professors aren't practitioners in most cases. They don't build things and make measurements. Personal commitment is really important.”

Wyatt agreed with Neves, but took a more measured approach, suggesting that more outreach to bridge the gap between education and real-world application will be necessary. “A lot of professors aren't practitioners; that's why it's really important for us as practicing engineers to partner with colleges and universities.”

Watch the full DesignCon 2018 keynote, “SI/PI & EMI Challenges: Looking Ahead Through 2023,” below and for more updates be sure to follow Design News on Facebook.  

Chris Wiltz is a Senior Editor at  Design News , covering emerging technologies including AI, VR/AR, and robotics.

Pacific Design and Manufacturing


Pacific Design & Manufacturing, North America’s premier conference that connects you with thousands of professionals across the advanced design & manufacturing spectrum, is back at the Anaheim Convention Center February 6-8, 2018! Over three days, OKuncover software innovation, hardware breakthroughs, fresh IoT trends, product demos and more that will change how you spend time and money on your next project.  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER TODAY!



Rigol Rolls New Spectrum Analyzer at DesignCon

Rigol Rolls New Spectrum Analyzer at DesignCon

Rigol Technologies will roll out a new spectrum analyzer for Internet of Things (IoT) applications at the DesignCon 2018 Expo in Santa Clara, CA this week.

The spectrum analyzer, known as the RSA5000, is said to combine swept-spectrum and real-time capabilities for a comparatively low price. “It brings two super-powerful capabilities to folks who are implementing Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, and all the other ISM-band hopping technologies,” noted Mike Rizzo, general manager of Rigol North America.

Rigol’s new RSA5000 spectrum analyzer incorporates swept-spectrum and real-time capabilities. (Source: Rigol Technologies)

The new product is targeted at engineers working on de-bugging of IoT-type applications. By incorporating swept-spectrum and real-time capabilities, it allows developers to target signals in an area of interest, and then flip to real-time mode to focus deeply on a more limited frequency span.

Rizzo said that test engineers are increasingly using both modes in their de-bug environments. “In order to deal with all the channel contention within the 2.4-GHz band, everyone is implementing these (frequency) hopping technologies,” Rizzo said. “And they can be really hard to see with a swept analyzer. But a real-time analyzer will let you see it.”

To date, spectrum analyzers combining both modes in a single box have typically cost more than $10,000, and sometimes over $15,000, Rizzo said. The RSA5000 will start at $7,999 for a 3.2-GHz model and $10,999 for 6.5-GHz unit.

The new product employs a QuadCore processor and is built atop a Linux operating system. It includes a 10.1-inch capacitive touch display.

Rizzo said the technology is aimed at a broad array of test engineers, but particularly those who need to do analysis of complex RF systems. “It’s best-suited for someone who needs a monitoring solution for RF-hopping technologies, especially in the IoT,” he said.

Rigol Technologies will demo the RSA5000 at booth #1135 at DesignCon.

Read More Articles on Electronics Technology

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Software Designers, Build Your Own

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 33 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.


DesignCon 2018 logoBy Engineers, For Engineers. Join our in-depth conference program with over 100 technical paper sessions, panels, and tutorials spanning 14 tracks. PLUS! New this year: Acquire an IEEE credit for every hour you spend at the conference. Learn more. DesignCon. Jan. 30-Feb. 1, 2018, in Santa Clara, CA. Register here for the event, hosted by Design News’ parent company UBM.

Call for Speakers Opens for The Battery Show in Novi, MI

Call for Speakers Opens for The Battery Show in Novi, MI

The advisors of The Battery Show (TBS) Conference, Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology (EVT) Conference, and Critical Power (CPE) Conference, invite presenters to submit speaking proposals for the event conferences, to be held September 11-13, 2018.

Track topics for this year’s conference will include but are not limited to:

  • Advanced Battery Technologies
  • Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technologies
  • Critical Power Technologies

Sample topic areas for each track can be seen here:

encouraging attendees to explore topics with greater depth and breadth. Workshops are held on the Monday before the Expo and Conferences begin and offer a more detailed and interactive learning experience on battery and E/HV topics.

PLENARY PANEL DISCUSSION – 1.5-HOUR analysis of broad industry trends from a variety of angles. Plenary topics appeal to interests of both battery and electric and hybrid vehicle experts and provide an opening discussion that sets the mood for the technical discussions that follow. When proposing a plenary panel discussion, please provide a list of your prospective speakers.

TECHNICAL DISCUSSION – 20-MINUTE solo sessions explaining a new technology and its implications. Individual technical discussions are grouped by topic within either the battery or electric/hybrid vehicle tracks. Following a grouping of technical discussions, the four to five speakers gather in a panel discussion to answer questions. Please present your submission as a solo session. The conference director will then group solo sessions by cohesive topics.

OPEN TECH FORUM PRESENTATION – 30-MINUTE interactive presentations on the Expo floor that are open to all event attendees. These sessions can include teardowns, demos, and discussions of applications or trends.

We encourage talks that reveal new ways of thinking about and applying battery, power, and energy technologies. Real-world examples that show a novel application of technology or illustrate a solution to a technical challenge in an end product, including a detailed discussion of the trade-offs and choices made.

In general, we look for speakers who are willing to share their knowledge to help design and innovation continue and grow. Proposals that decidedly aim to market a specific engineer, company, or product will not be considered.

Proposals must be submitted by February 28, 2018, through the electronic portal.

For more information about attending any of the events, please visit:

If you have any questions, please contact Naomi Price, Conference Content Director.


Medtech Supplier Innovation on Tour at MD&M West in Anaheim

Our Medtech Innovation Tour of these five innovative companies will take place at MD&M West 2018 on February 6 from 3 pm to 4 pm. To join the tour, please meet Editor Daphne Allen at Booth #313, where you'll be given a headset and tour map. Please arrive at least 5 minutes before the tour starts.[Image source CoolKengzz/Shutterstock]