IAA Weekly Report – News & Services

IAA Weekly Report – News & Services
IAA presents weekly updates on the latest industry news and market stories in an mobile text only format.

Fully automated packaging
Autobagging Tool for wafers in FOSBs

Burgkirchen, a universal service provider for process and factory automation, presents a fully automated packaging system for FOSBs. The system increases efficiency and quality, reduces the error rate and takes the strain off staff.

Preparing wafers for transportation to a semiconductor production facility is a complex process and is subject to the strictest quality criteria. The sensitive products are placed in special containers known as front opening shipping boxes (FOSBs). These must be carefully packed in absolutely leak-proof plastic bags under cleanroom conditions.


“Packaging is always a uniform process, but it has to be absolutely reliable – after all, the contents are sensitive and expensive,” explains Alfred Pammer, Head of Sales and Marketing at cts. “If it is carried out manually, errors are inevitable simply because of the monotonous nature of the work – and qualified applicants for such a job are rare. It therefore made sense to automate the entire process. And here at cts we have found a very efficient and reliable solution.”

The new autobagging tool combines the packaging machine, test chamber, handling robot and all other components in one complete cell. All packaging and testing processes take place here without manual assistance.

Fully automated packaging, labeling and testing

The unpackaged FOSBs with the wafers are first placed on a conveyor belt by OHT, AMR or operator and from there enter the system. A cross-slot check and add-on part check are then used to determine whether processing is possible with the current configuration. The FOSBs are then packed first in an inner bag and then in an outer bag filled with desiccant. After gluing, the tightness of the packaging is determined for each unit individually using a test gas. The FOSB and wrapping are given a label, the quality and correct positioning of which is also checked. The finished packaged products then leave the system via an outfeed conveyor. If the system detects any faults, the affected units are automatically removed for visual inspection. The throughput is 3,000 to 8,000 FOSBs per month, which corresponds to around 75,000 to 200,000 wafers.

A semi-automated version of the autobagging tool is also available for companies with a lower throughput. In this case, employees feed and remove the FOSBs from the packaging unit and the test chamber.

Can be combined with other cts automation solutions

“With our autobagging tool, we have automated another important production step,” summarizes Pammer. “Our solution avoids all too human errors, it works more efficiently and better than conventional manual workflows. In most cases, no set-up time is required. It also noticeably reduces dust pollution. The new system fits harmoniously into our portfolio. Both the transfer of the FOSBs to the infeed conveyor and the collection from the outfeed conveyor do not have to be done manually. The cts Smart Logistics material logistics solutions enable a completely autonomous, automated transport process without the need for time-consuming conversion work in the production environment. And with our Smart Warehouse, we even offer a suitable and also fully automated interim storage solution.”

YOFC acquires RFS Germany and RFS Suzhou, expanding presence in the international cable market

Yangtze Optical Fibre and Cable Joint Stock Limited Company (YOFC) recently completed the acquisition of RFS Germany and RFS Suzhou(RFS, Radio Frequency Systems), a landmark event in its strategy for global expansion. The transaction was celebrated with a handover ceremony featuring a video address by Dan Zhuang, Executive Director and President of YOFC. Senior Vice President Lijing Zhou, Vice President Lei Nie, and Senior Human Resources Director Xing Fan were among the key attendees. The takeover represents another crucial step in YOFC’s global expansion, poised to significantly enhance its overseas production capacity and drive forward the development of the international cable market.


YOFC is recognized globally as a leading supplier of optical fibre preforms, fibres, and cables, as well as offering comprehensive integrated solutions. YOFC’s extensive catalog features a variety of optical fibres and cables that are crucial to the communications industry, with the company also providing custom-made optical transceivers, specialty fibres, active optical cables, submarine cables, radio-frequency (RF) coaxial cables and accessories to meet the unique needs of its customers. Recent efforts to expand its presence have led YOFC into new territories such as rail transportation and the development of base station cables and devices, along with power cables, reinforcing its status as an industry frontrunner.
YOFC has recently expanded its portfolio through the strategic acquisition of RFS Germany and RFS Suzhou, collectively known for their substantial international brand presence and strong customer base. The two entities excel in the R&D, manufacturing, and distribution of specialized RF cables, leakage cables, hybrid cables, and other related telecommunications infrastructure products. Their offerings are critical to a broad spectrum of industries, notably in rail transportation and base station infrastructure. The integration of these acquisitions into YOFC’s operations is set to create a synergistic boost in production capabilities and market outreach, enhancing the company’s competitive edge.
Committed to the mission of “Smart Link, Better Life”, YOFC remains steadfast in implementing its diversification and globalization roadmap. The approach is aimed at fostering industry leadership, market expansion, and the realization of its vision for sustainable long-term growth.

Source : YOFC

Shifting Attack Landscapes and Sectors in Q1 2024 with a 28% increase in cyber attacks globally

• Recurring increase in cyber attacks: Q1 2024 saw a marked 28% increase in the average number of cyber attacks per organisation from the last quarter of 2023, though a 5% increase in Q1 YoY
• Sustained Industry Attacks focus: The Hardware Vendor industry saw a substantial rise of 37% cyber attacks YoY, as the Education/Research, Government/Military and Healthcare sector maintained their leads as the most heavily attacked sectors in Q1 2024
• Contrasting Regional Variances: The Africa region saw a notable 20% increase in cyber attacks, as opposed to Latin America, which reported a 20% decrease YoY
• Ransomware continues to surge: Europe saw a YoY 64% surge in ransomware attacks followed by Africa (18%), though North America emerged as the region most impacted by ransomware attacks with 59% out of close to 1000 published ransomware attacks from ransomware ‘shame sites’
The realm of cyber security is an ever-evolving battlefield. As we step into 2024, the shadows of 2023’s massive cyber threats still loomed, setting a precedent for what was to come. The first quarter of 2024 has seen an intriguing shift in the landscape of cyber attacks, both in frequency and in the nature of threats.

Global Cyber Security Trends for Q1 2024
In Q1 2024, Check Point Research (CPR) witnessed a notable increase in the average number of cyber attacks per organisation per week, reaching 1,308, marking a 5% increase from Q1 2023 and a 28% increase from the last quarter of 2023. This escalation is not just a number but a stark reminder of the persistent and evolving threat landscape, and the substantial increase from Q4 2023 accentuates a worrying trend of rapid escalation in cyber threats.

Global Attacks Per Industry
The Education/Research sector experienced a significant blow with an average of 2,454 attacks per organisation weekly, leading the chart in targeted industries, followed by the Government/Military (1,692 attacks per week) and Healthcare (1,605 attacks per organisation) sectors, signalling an alarming vulnerability in sectors that are pivotal to societal function.
However, it is the substantial year-on-year increase in attacks on the Hardware Vendor industry, rising by 37%, which underlines a strategic shift in target preference by cybercriminals. This industry’s increasing reliance on hardware for IoT and smart devices makes these vendors lucrative targets for cybercriminals.

Regional Analysis of Overall Attacks
Regionally, Africa surged to the forefront with an average of 2,373 attacks per week per organisation, a 20% jump from the same period in 2023. In contrast, Latin America showed a 20% decline, perhaps indicating a shift in focus or improved defensive measures in the region; another reason could be a temporary shift in focus by cybercriminals on other more vulnerable regions across the world. The data also revealed a nuanced picture of varying intensities and types of cyber threats in different regions, underscoring the complex and dynamic nature of cyber warfare.

Ransomware Attack Insights per Region and Industry
In Q1 2024, North America was the region most impacted by Ransomware attacks, accounting for 59% out of close to 1,000 published ransomware attacks*, followed by Europe (24%) and APAC (12%). The largest increase in reported attacks compared to Q1 2023 was seen in Europe, with a significant 64% increase. This significant increase could be attributed to factors such as increased digitisation of services and regulatory environments that may make organisations more vulnerable or visible targets. In contrast, the North America saw a 16% increase, indicating a sustained focus by attackers on this region.
The most impacted Industry globally was the Manufacturing sector, accounting for 29% of published ransomware attacks and having almost double the amount of reported attacked YoY, followed by the Healthcare industry with 11% of the attacks (and 63% increase YoY), and Retail/Wholesale with 8% of the attacks.
The Communications sector saw the highest increase YoY in ransomware attacks with 177%, though it constituted only 4% of the published attacks in the quarter. The Communications sector’s surge in cyberattacks YOY could have been fueled by rapid digital transformation, integrating technologies like 5G and IoT, which expand vulnerabilities, while its critical role and handling of sensitive data make it a prime target for diverse threats, including state-sponsored espionage and data theft. The Manufacturing sector had the second highest increase in ransomware attacks with 96% YoY, and is a common prime target due to its heavy reliance on interconnected technology and weakened security capabilities due to the usage of legacy industrial technologies.
(*) This section features information derived from ransomware “shame sites” operated by double-extortion ransomware groups which posted the names and information of victims. The data from these shame sites carries its own biases, but still provides valuable insights into the ransomware ecosystem.

Practical Organisation Strategies
Businesses must adopt a multi-faceted approach to cyber security, encompassing robust data backups, frequent cyber awareness training, timely security patches, strong user authentication, and advanced anti-ransomware solutions. Proactive engagement with AI-powered defences can significantly bolster an organisation’s resilience against these threats.
In response to these escalating threats which are becoming more sophisticated, advancements in defence techniques especially in threat detection and analysis and spotting anomalies and new attack patterns early, particularly in AI, have become pivotal. For instance, Check Point’s ThreatCloud AI, which underpins all its solutions, leverages AI and big data to counter sophisticated threats while minimising false positives. It processes vast amounts of data and indicators of compromise daily. A practical example of its effectiveness is in handling zero-day attacks: a malicious link identified in the US is instantly blocked and this intelligence is shared globally, allowing a similar attack in Australia to be thwarted within seconds, averting potential harm.
The Drive to Defend Continues
The first quarter of 2024 has underscored the need for adaptive cybersecurity strategies to combat the evolving threat landscape. The increased attacks on specific industries and regions, coupled with the complexity of ransomware tactics, highlight the necessity for comprehensive and prevention-first approaches to cybersecurity. As we continue to navigate this challenging terrain, awareness, preparedness, and innovation in defence strategies remain our strongest allies

Process Reliability in Tube Production: How PackSys Global Optimizes Production Using SIKO Technology

PackSys Global relies on monitored changeovers with digital position indicators from SIKO in tube welding machines

Image 1) The FlexSeamer tube welding machine from Packsys Global offers high speed and reliable operation. Image: © PackSys Global

Large tubes, small tubes, long tubes, thick tubes, flat tubes, miniature tubes—tubes are produced in countless sizes and formats for oral care, cosmetics, and in the pharmaceutical industry. The machines that produce the packaging for toothpaste and cosmetic products come from PackSys Global AG in Rüti, Switzerland. The company’s focus is on efficient processes, high output, and ease of use for its customers. This is achieved through increased digitization, automation, and streamlining of process steps. An important aspect that significantly influences process reliability is the proper changeover of machines, specifically the adaptation of settings to accommodate various tube formats. PackSys has integrated a monitored changeover solution from SIKO GmbH, the German specialist for sensors and positioning systems, in order to increase the ease of use of its tube welding machines and ensure the safe adjustment of the various units.

PackSys Global AG, which belongs to the Brückner Group, is specialized in systems for the production of plastic tubes. PackSys Global also supplies hot stamping machines for applying decorative metallized coatings, roll cutting and folding machines for plastic closures, as well as packaging machines for cans, tubes, and closures to transport them from the manufacturer to the filler.

Monitored Changeover in New Tube Welding Machine
Many of the company’s machines require regular changeovers. The most common method to accomplish this is to use mechanical position indicators that are manually set to a position value stored in the documentation. This has a high potential for error, as values may be read and set incorrectly. Especially in the case of frequent adjustments for different tube variants at several positions, the integration of digital position indicators for monitored changeovers is worthwhile as an alternative. The switch to digital position indicators was tested during the development of a new tube welding machine, the FlexSeamer.

The choice for the digital AP05 position indicator with IO-Link interface from SIKO was made for several reasons: It stood out due to its compactness, universal applicability regardless of the axis orientation (vertically or horizontally), and intuitive readability thanks to two LED lights. The displays are used at approximately ten positions throughout the system, for example, to check settings like the thickness or length of the plastic laminates or a varying print image. Another SIKO position indicator, the AP10S, is used to monitor the positioning during linear movements.

From Laminate to Tube
The FlexSeamer is used to unwind a flat belt material, a plastic laminate, from a large roll of material. Depending on the product requirements, the plastics processed are usually material blends that must have good barrier properties in order to minimize the amount of oxygen reaching the product inside and limit the diffusion of aromatic substances out of the tube.

The plastic sheet is folded lengthwise, formed into a tube, and then provided with a longitudinal weld seam, transforming the flat material into an endless tube. The plastic tube is cut into individual sections by a rotary blade. This is the actual body of the tube into which the cosmetic, toothpaste, or pharmaceutical product will later be filled. In a subsequent machine, known as the “Header & Capper,” a so-called shoulder with threaded and capped ends is placed on one of the two sides. The other side is left open so that the contents can be inserted through this opening during filling process and a final transverse weld seam can be applied.

FlexSeamer: High Speed and Reliable Operation
What sets the new welding machine apart is that it features a high speed of 250 tubes per minute, long

heating and cooling sections designed for modern laminate types, and intuitive, fast, and reliable operation thanks to the digital capture of most settings. While mechanical position indicators only display the actual value of a position, digital position indicators also show the target value of a setting. For example, the dimensions for a particular type of tube are stored as a recipe in the machine control system and are then transferred to the respective indicators via IO-Link. An operator must then adjust the setting to match the actual and target values. This is the only way to continue with the production process. Reliable indicators here include the two LED lights, which illuminate green only when the values match. As long as a red light remains illuminated on the system, the process must be stopped and readjusted.

For Aitor Henao, Head of Marketing & Communications at PackSys Global, the advantages of such a solution are obvious: “Formats can be quickly and easily adjusted. Any product can be reproduced at any time with exactly the same settings because the dimensions are stored as a recipe for each variant. This means a consistently high level of quality because the processes are stable and reliable at all times.”

Emanuel Heusser, Group Manager Automation Engineering in R&D, emphasizes another aspect that is relevant to quality: “It is often only when products are subjected to random destructive testing, which requires a great deal of effort, that the effects of an incorrect setting become apparent. However, if the digital position indicators ensure that the same settings are used throughout the production process, there is no need for downstream quality control. This is a significant added value of monitored changeovers.

Images 2) and 3) From the plasticlaminate to the finished tube: The FlexSeamer is easy tooperate and reliablethanks to monitored changeovers from SIKO (markings). Images: © PackSys Global


“Magic Fingers” Are Becoming More Rare
Increasingly, digitized solutions are providing support even in times of skilled labor shortages, says Aitor Henao: “Years ago, there was one skilled worker, who had been with the company for 20 or 30 years, that knew exactly where to make adjustments based on experience, and had ‘magic fingers’ when a setting no longer worked perfectly. However, today we have a very flexible labor market where skilled workers are rare. Intuitive operation that enables process-safe settings without in-depth knowledge of the machine helps companies address the shortage of skilled labor.”
There are many factors to consider when deciding on a monitored changeover. Positions requiring frequent adjustments are ideal for such an investment in digital monitoring. Another argument can be the costly downtime associated with format changeovers. Reducing setup times can be critical. For rare adjustments or situations where incorrect settings are immediately noticeable, PackSys Global continues to use mechanical position indicators from SIKO. These indicators allow for easily controlled position values. Another option from SIKO’s range of solutions are compact, fully automatic positioning drives. These allow size adjustment at the touch of a button. Furthermore, they are also easy to use in hard-to-reach areas of a machine.

Images 4) and 5) The AP05 (left) and AP10S (right) position indicators always guarantee reliable machine settings for the production of a wide range of tube variants. Image 4: © SIKO GmbH, Image 5: © SIKO GmbH / Istock.com

Example Settings for Print Mark Sensors
The added value of the monitored changeover can be illustrated using an example setting, the print mark sensor: To cut the tube section, the cut must be made in the correct position relative to the print image. This is done by applying printed marks to the laminate, which are detected by sensors. The mark is located in a different place on the circumference of the tube depending on the print image. Therefore, the position of the sensor on the circumference must always be slightly different in order to detect this print mark. The position of the print mark sensor can now be recorded in degrees and stored in the recipe thanks to the AP10S position indicator. This means that the operator does not have to go into the machine to position the sensor relative to the print mark. Instead, the target positioning values are stored for each print image.

Image 6) The modern FlexSeamer tube welding machine with positioning systems from SIKO for optimized changeovers. Image: © PackSys Global


Integration of the SIKO Position Indicators
For Emanuel Heusser, the universal applicability of the AP05 on both vertical and horizontal axes was a major plus: “The display is angled at 45 degrees and can be configured via the software in regard to how it should be positioned. This also makes it easier for us to stock different products for vertical and horizontal axes. The actual integration proved to be straightforward, both regarding the mechanical design and the electronic integration.” Heusser’s assessment of the cooperation with SIKO is also positive: “There has always been a great deal of goodwill. SIKO aims to make wishes and suggestions a reality.
For example the AP05 was specially designed with IO-Link for our FlexSeamer project.”

Looking ahead, Aitor Henao sees a clear trend towards digitization and automation of systems, especially in the area of changeovers: “These small details, such as the LED display, make all the difference. They improve the quality of our machines and services, helping customer companies to focus on their business.”

Image 7) Portrait of Aitor Henao, Head of Marketing & Communications at PackSys Global. Image: © PackSys Global
Image 8) Portrait of Emanuel Heusser, Group Leader Automation Engineering in R&D at PackSys Global. Image: © PackSys Global









Author: Michaela Wassenberg, Freelance Journalist






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