Selected quotes from our second quarter earnings call.
Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Second Quarter 2016 Results
In Q2 2016, Rogers achieved net sales of $157.5 million, in line with our stated guidance. Net sales declined 3.4% in comparison to Q2 2015. We experienced slower than expected growth in certain key markets, but we maintain confidence in the long-term growth prospects for our core markets and will continue to execute our growth strategy to capitalize on the opportunities ahead.
Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Growth
Our roadmap has enabled us to deliver solid results and positions us for the projected growth in our megatrend markets. Rogers is a market-driven organization and we leverage our deep understanding of the link between our markets and technology to develop solutions that fill unmet needs in the marketplace. We recently hosted a day-long innovation event where we brought together Rogers engineers and a key customer’s top technologists. These events deepen our customer partnerships so together we can develop a roadmap to meet their future technology needs.
In the area of innovation leadership, we are very pleased with the advancements we are making in our innovation centers, as well as in the operating units where our R&D teams are focused on next-generation solutions. Our approach to partnering with local universities in the US and Asia is yielding results. We are filing for new patents in record numbers and we are evaluating a robust pipeline of groundbreaking new technology platforms at our innovation centers.
Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Megatrends
The longer-term outlook and corresponding growth expectations for our key markets remains positive over the next two to three years. For example, consumer demand for mobile video content is expected to drive a 45% compounded annual growth rate in mobile data traffic over the next five years. To support that explosive growth, the FCC recently voted to open high-frequency spectrum for 5G networks in the US. Such actions bode well for Rogers since our core strengths in advanced antenna technology, power amps, and other wireless telecommunication components should enable us to capitalize on that growth.
Other areas of importance to Rogers are energy efficiency and safety, which continue to be at the forefront of technology advancements across many markets. In particular, we expect to see solid growth for EV/HEV and automotive safety system applications going forward.
We are confident that the strategic investments we are making will drive greater agility and flexibility in the face of market uncertainty.
Advanced Connectivity Solutions delivered net sales of $67.2 million during Q2 2016, which is an increase of 1.2% over Q2 2015. Results were driven by demand in applications for high-frequency circuit materials used in automotive safety and other high-reliability applications.
Demand for wireless telecom applications was up slightly, but lower than expected, due to delayed spending in both India and China, which we expect to occur now in 2017. This resulted in a gradual softening of demand as we moved through the quarter. Growth in ACS was partially offset by lower demand in satellite TV dish applications.
We are executing on our strategy to deliver growth in ACS. In the near term, we expect to maintain our leadership position in 4G LTE wireless infrastructure, as well as in automotive safety systems where manufacturers are offering more of these features across luxury and mass-market models. We are well positioned to capitalize on the growth we expect to see with the buildout of the 5G networks.
Elastomeric Material Solutions achieved second-quarter net sales of $45.8 million, a decrease of 2.6% from Q2 2015. During the quarter, EMS results were driven by an increase in demand for portable electronics and automotive applications. This demand was offset by lower demand for general industrial, mass transit, and consumer applications. Softness in the general industrial market was a result of reduced capital expenditures in North America, due in part to the decline in energy-related infrastructure investments. EMS’s consumer category was affected by lower demand for protective footwear, due to slowdowns in the mining and construction categories.
Our strategy to drive growth in EMS through geographic expansion was evident during the quarter, as the European region delivered another quarter of double-digit revenue growth. In addition, our R&D efforts are helping us to expand our portfolio of opportunities. For example, we are pleased with the traction we are gaining for our new back pad materials, which eliminate the ripple effect that can appear on the screens of certain portable electronic devices.
Power Electronics Solutions net sales were $38.4 million, essentially flat compared to Q2 2015. Overall, we saw increased demand for energy-efficient motor drives, due to strong results at one of our key customers. In addition, certain renewable energy and vehicle electrification applications also posted solid growth during the quarter. Demand for EV/HEV was essentially flat, due to a slower than expected ramp-up rate at a key customer in Q2, but we expect to see improvement in Q3. The positive results in these segments was more than offset by weaker demand in mass transit, where rail demand was much lower due to declines in energy and mining markets.
For the PES business, we maintain a positive outlook for the mid- to long term. We expect government mandates and climate change agreements to continue to drive demand for energy-efficient motor drives, renewable energy applications, and EV/HEV content.
Q2 2016 Earnings Call Full Transcript: http://rogerscorp.com/documents/8792/investor-relations/Rogers-Corporation-Second-Quarter-2016-Conference-Call.pdf
Q2 2016 Financials Press Release: http://rogerscorp.com/news/7466/Rogers-Corporation-Reports-Second-Quarter-2016-Results.aspx
Safety is an integral part of Rogers Cultural Behaviors:
- Life Safely
- Speak Openly
- Just Decide
- Simply Improve
- Deliver Results
A very successful Safety Day event, sponsored by Rogers’ R&D Safety Committee and Innovation Center team, was held at corporate headquarters in Rogers CT on May 25, 2016. Safety not only is taken seriously at our manufacturing sites, but also by our R&D and corporate office colleagues who believe a strong safety program requires all employees to be actively involved.
The event was attended by ~85 R&D and Innovation Center employees and 30 employees from the corporate office. The day was broken into one-hour courses so participants had a selection of topics to choose from. The topics included:
- First aid training by the American Red Cross
- Diet and Fitness by a local Certified Personal Trainer
- Home fire safety by the local Deputy Fire Chief
- Ergonomics by our WorkWell Certified Physical Therapist
- Home Safety by a Honeywell expert
- Ladder safety for home and work by KB Ladder
- Safety gloves and hand protection for home and work
There was also a scavenger hunt, which was the hit of the day. Many people had the opportunity to pair up with colleagues they do not normally work with and learn about safety items they were not familiar with in the R&D building. Random prize triggers throughout the day helped keep everyone interested and involved.
While Rogers holds a variety of safety activities, this was our first Safety Day event initiated, produced, and executed at corporate headquarters for lab and office employees. The R&D and Innovation Center team, lead by Shawn Williams and Loni Decelles did a spectacular job with this event.
A big thank you to the R&D and Innovation Center Safety Committee and R&D leadership for promoting and supporting safe workplace and home safety.
The Rogers Corp. Safety Committee Members are:
Kurt Frisch, Tom Kneeland, Mike Lunt, Bryan Tworzydlo, Loni Decelles, Lisa Langelier, Selina Han, Brian Litke, Chuck Weatherbee, John Kaczowski, Steve Chviek, Betti Sheldon, Craig Clark, and Mark St. Jean.
Solder mask is an often-overlooked component of an RF/microwave printed-circuit board (PCB). It provides protection for a circuit but can also have an effect on final performance, especially at higher frequencies. Solder mask may not always be used in RF/microwave circuits but, when it is part of a circuit, it should be accounted for electrically as well, for the most accurate modeling and simulation. Knowing more about the material properties of solder mask can help boost an understanding of how these circuit layers can impact performance at RF/microwave frequencies.
A solder mask is essentially a thin polymer layer that protects copper conductors from oxidation and helps to minimize the creation of short circuits by means of bridges formed by excess solder.
Solder mask provides protection for areas of a PCB that do not require any final plating finish. Traditionally, solder masks have provided their green color to PCBs but solder masks are now available in many other colors as well as in lead-free versions. The requirements for a particular solder mask will be determined by PCB conductor thickness, circuit density, viaholes, and types of components to be attached to the PCB, such as surface-mount-technology (SMT) components.
Solder mask can be applied in dry (film) or liquid forms. Because of the more complete coverage they provide on practical, three-dimensional (3D) surfaces, most solder mask is applied in liquid form. Liquid solder mask is typically formed from a two-component mixture of liquid photoimageable (LPI) polymers and solvents. The liquid components are mixed and used to form a thin coating that will adhere to the different surfaces and materials of a PCB, notably the conductive traces. An LPI solder mask provides protection for the PCB’s circuitry and dielectric materials, and the solder mask must be patterned to form openings (solder mask voids) for electrical connections of circuit components. When using LPI solder-resist inks, openings and other patterns can be formed in the solder mask by exposure to an ultraviolet (UV) light source, using either photolithography or direct laser imaging to create desired openings and patterns.
Most LPI solder mask is based on either an epoxy or acrylic formulation. Each solder mask approach brings its own contributions to a PCB, such as high dissipation factor and poor moisture absorption, that do not necessarily add to excellent high-frequency performance. For example, in contrast to circuit laminates intended for RF/microwave applications and often characterized at 10 GHz, the typical dissipation factor (Df) of an LPI solder mask is 0.025 at 1 GHz, with a dielectric constant (Dk) of around 3.3 to 3.8 at the same frequency, depending upon formulation.
The moisture absorption of an LPI solder mask also depends on the solder mask formulation, and is typically around 1% to 2%. Compare this to moisture absorption of less than 0.3% for most RF/microwave circuit laminates, and it is clear that both parameters of a PCB laminate will be affected by the contributions of an LPI solder mask. Because of the negative impact on RF/microwave performance, solder mask is often omitted from the RF/microwave portion of a PCB even if it can provide protection that enhances reliability.
In high-frequency circuits with microstrip or grounded-coplanar-waveguide (GCPW) transmission lines fabricated on low-loss circuit laminates, the addition of solder mask will increase the dielectric losses and the effective Dk of the circuit compared to a circuit without solder mask. Whether in double-copper-layer or multilayer designs, the characteristics of the solder mask must be included in any computer-aided-engineering (CAE) modeling and simulation performed to predict circuit performance, especially if a design goal is concerned with minimizing circuit losses.
Often, small patches of solder mask are used in RF/microwave circuit designs as “dams” for those areas where solder will be applied and SMT components assembled. In contrast to full circuit solder mask, these smaller patches or dams tends to have negligible impact on electrical performance. In general, if a solder mask patch is less than one-tenth wavelength of the operating frequency, it will not have a significant impact on the performance at that frequency. Provided that such solder mask patches are sufficiently small, they will have negligible effects on a high-frequency PCB. However, the use of multiple solder mask patches within a relatively small section of a PCB can result in a change in the material properties within that area that can have resulting electrical effects, such as higher loss.
In selecting solder mask for PCBs, a number of characteristics should be considered. These include long shelf life, high adhesion, high electrical insulation, good heat resistance, high plating resistance to all forms of plating, including with electroless nickel and gold, and compliant with halogen-free requirements. For applications where performance is critical, the choice of solder mask color can influence the material’s Df and Dk characteristics, where a difference in color can mean a difference, although slight, in both parameters. Proper cleaning and preparation of a PCB surface can also go a long way in ensuring that solder mask adheres strongly to the laminate surface when applied.
Additional information on solder mask is available from the global trade association, Association Connecting Electronics Industries, and its Institute of Printed Circuits (IPC), in the form of publication IPC-SM-840C, which reviews material types, adhesion characteristics, and other parameters of interest. By the nature of the LPI solder mask materials, and the need to form precise openings and other features typically by photolithography, they will be limited in terms of electrical performance compared to modern low-loss, high-performance circuit laminates. But when the protection of solder mask is needed for a design, and through proper planning and simulation with modern CAE circuit modeling software, solder mask can be added to RF/microwave double-copper-layer and multilayer circuits with minimal or no penalties in performance.
Download the ROG Mobile app to access Rogers’ calculators, including the popular Microwave Impedance simulation tool, literature, technical papers, and the ability to order samples of the company’s high performance printed circuit board materials.
Ask an Engineer
Do you have a design or fabrication question? Rogers Corporation’s experts are available to help. Log in to the Rogers Technology Support Hub and “Ask an Engineer” today.
Rogers Elastomeric Material Solutions sells PORON® and BISCO® materials through an exclusive network of Preferred Converters, a select group of partners who deliver an exceptional level of service and support for Rogers products in industrial, automotive, and mass transit applications. This global customer network utilizes Rogers’ products and manufactures them into final parts for end customers. The converters offer broad adhesive, lamination, cutting, and processing capabilities. They also create innovative solutions by combining materials or developing new manufacturing techniques to help their customers solve design challenges and create differentiation.
Preferred Converters maintain high standards of quality, technical capability, and customer service ensuring the best possible experience for our shared end users. Each partner gets involved in an interesting array of end use challenges. Here is a behind-the-scenes look at some of our partners and their customer projects.
An OEM of marine industry products needed a gasketing and cushioning system for an industrial-duty touch screen in a humid and wet environment. The primary challenge was the diverse set of functions needed: weather vibrations, physical shocks, temperature fluctuations, and provide a high degree of conformability. The end product required two levels of compression deflection resistance and durometer combined into one part, and four different gasket components be manufactured and assembled. CGR Products designed the assembly process and used highly resilient PORON® 40 and 50 Series polyurethane foams. Here’s how.
A global designer and manufacturer of electronic components and integrated systems for the automotive industry designed an HEV battery system. It included an enclosure the needed a group of seals and gaskets to protect the sensitive components inside from moisture, dust, and debris. The designed also required the seals and gaskets protect the system from failure due to vibration and/or impact. Marian engineers created a stable and aggressive bond between the foam and the enclosure housing using extra soft, slow rebound PORON® 4790-92 polyurethane materials. Here’s how.
Standard Rubber Products (SRP)
Workers who use portable gas detectors risk their lives and need durable and effective protection. A safety device OEM discovered that the closed-cell neoprene blend and PVC sponge gasket materials being used to seal out dust and moisture were failing. SRP’s design skill and customized processing made it possible to use PORON® 92 foam to replace the failing materials. The PORON 92 formulation combines the softness, sealing performance, and impact absorption properties needed to help the gas detectors withstand impacts from up to a 3.7 meter (12 foot) drop. Here’s how.
From talking refrigerators to implanted heart monitors to trains that report seat availability, sensors are a vital part of the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, you could make a good argument for calling it the “Internet of Sensors.” Most IoT devices include a sensor array, a microcontroller (MCU), Bluetooth or WiFi radio, and power management. Some devices also have a display or push-button inputs.
IoT devices are focused on physical interfaces that use sensors and actuators, as opposed to the human interfaces of most computing platforms. IoT devices receive input through sensors that are typically miniaturized through MEMS technology. They send out information through wired or wireless interfaces to mobile devices and cloud-based servers. Sensor types include pressure, chemical, strain, and temperature, each with varying measurement frequencies and triggers. Communication connectivity involves varying intervals, distances, data rates, packet sizes, etc.
Most industrial devices are now smart, connected products with built-in sensing, processing, and communications capabilities. Much of the equipment that is remotely located includes embedded sensors that identify equipment problems and report them back to manufacturers through cloud software over the Internet, thus making them IoT devices. Sensors generate data, data produces knowledge, and knowledge drives action. Therefore, making sense of the data that those devices generate creates productivity improvements through equipment maintenance, inventory optimization, energy savings, and labor efficiencies.
According to ABI Research, the increasing adoption of IoT within industrial settings will result in a substantial growth of the number of connected devices, in particular control devices like programmable controllers (PLCs). It is expected that the number of connected industrial controllers will triple by 2020. This will produce an enormous strain on the existing infrastructure, both wired and wireless.
IoT Constraints: Power and Miniaturization
Regardless of the application, IoT devices are often located without easy access to power. This makes low power consumption one of the most universal constraints across the IoT space. IoT devices also require long lifetimes, further constraining power consumption. Bigger systems can afford µW – mW average powers, but millimeter-size devices need to make do with nW powers.
According to a team of researchers at the University of Michigan, “In low duty cycle systems, the sensor will be mostly inactive, reducing active power consumption and making standby power the dominant component. On the other hand, systems with high bandwidth requirements will have significantly higher power budgets with the radio as the dominant factor.”
IoT device packaging requirements typically include miniaturization in the form of low-cost, good power dissipation (low power for the silicon portion), good RF shielding, and support for multiple RF standards, such as WiFi, ZigBee, or BTLE (Bluetooth low energy, aka Bluetooth Smart). As discussed in EDN, “Cavity-based solutions are popular when sensors are involved, especially when there are stimulus delivery requirements such as port holes in microphones. IoT packages must also be production ready, since waiting for a new custom package is often not an option due to time-to-market constraints. Finally, regardless of whether the solution is discrete or integrated, the footprint must be small.”
IoT Constraints: Bandwidth
The IoT is also constrained by the Internet’s available bandwidth. The demand for WiFi and the transmission of mass quantities of mobile data is predicted to grow exponentially. By 2019, more than ten billion mobile devices will exchange 35 quintillion bytes of information each month. Add to that the countless desktop computers and computer-based equipment located in households, schools, government facilities, and throughout industry.
McKinsey reports that the IoT has a total potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion a year by 2025. At the top end, that level of value—including the consumer surplus—would be equivalent to about 11 percent of the world economy.
Let’s start with the glut of IoT data, much of which is not used:
- On an oil rig with 30,000 sensors, only 1 percent of the data is examined. That’s because this information is used mostly to detect and control anomalies—not for optimization and prediction, which provide the greater value.
- A fleet of 100 modern rail cars produces between 100 to 200 billion data points annually. Siemens is working with railways to create data teams to monitor the data that a train sends out, including information about what parts of the train have broken, what spare parts have been used, what spare parts are still available, what geographic regions it has traveled through (is there a hill that is notorious for causing problems?), and whether it’s near a service depot that has capacity to provide maintenance.
- According to Deloitte, the primary challenge in chronic care is linking the devices so they can communicate reliably and securely. While in-home blood-glucose and heart-rate sensors, for instance, are widely available, they are rarely set up to export their data to a system that aggregates and shares information with all involved parties.
To handle the data, a network is needed that balances conflicting requirements, such as IoT device range, battery life, bandwidth, density, endpoint cost, and operational cost.
According to Gartner:
Low-power, short-range networks will dominate wireless IoT connectivity through 2025, far outnumbering connections using wide-area IoT networks. However, trade-offs mean that in many cases, network types will coexist.
For IoT applications that need wide-area coverage combined with relatively low bandwidth, good battery life, low hardware and operating costs, and high connection density, cellular networks don’t deliver. Wide-area IoT networks need to to deliver data rates from hundreds of bits per second (bps) to tens of kilobits per second (kbps) with nationwide coverage, a battery life of up to 10 years, an endpoint hardware cost of around $5, and support for hundreds of thousands of devices connected to a base station.
The first low-power wide-area networks (LPWANs) were based on proprietary technologies, but in the long term emerging standards such as Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) will likely dominate this space.
Industrial IoT applications present an additional challenge in that they often require high data rates in order to transmit and analyze data in real time. Systems creating tens of thousands of events per second are common, and millions of events per second can occur in some telecom and telemetry situations. To address such requirements, distributed stream computing platforms (DSCPs) have emerged.
Other new technologies are being created to help the IoT become a self-sustaining network of sensors and devices that deliver valuable insight obtained from massive amounts of data:
- High frequency circuit materials deliver the performance needed by IoT sensors, wireless base stations, satellite antennas, and network servers and storage.
- High temperature silicone materials serve as gaskets and seals, cushions, and thermal and acoustic insulation in demanding and remote environments.
- Laminated multilayer busbars provide efficient and compact connections for propulsion, auxiliary, and other IGBT based converters in connected car and connected rail systems.