3 July 2006
Technological Expansion(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 03,2006)
Leadway Technology Corp Ltd
|Leadway Technology Corp Co Ltd has reshaped itself as a one-stop shop for miniaturised IC packages in addition to more traditional lines|
One way to ensure success is to help meet your clients' needs as broadly as possible, which is why Leadway Technology Corp Ltd has reshaped itself as a one-stop shop for miniaturised IC packages for use in mobile phones and other hand-held electronic devices, in addition to its traditional PCB lines.
For example, apart from IC design, Leadway also offers OEM/ODM services, contract manufacturing arrangements, electronic product design, mould design and manufacturing, smart card system design and PCB manufacturing.
Established in Hong Kong in 1993, Leadway began business trading in electronic products and components and offering sourcing services. "A year later, we established a production facility on the Chinese mainland and commenced its PCB and LED business," recalls director Eddy Tsoi.
Further expansion was rapid. "In 1996," he says, "we lined up alongside a publicly-listed company involved in the design and building of moulds and product marketing. Then, in 1997, we launched our first smart card product, expanded our PCB manufacturing operations and established the capability to produce multilayer boards."
Another significant step was made in 1999, when Leadway acquired ISA Corp. "This acquisition enabled us to provide innovative semiconductor assembly and consultancy services that were quite removed from our original, rather straightforward PCB manufacturing," Tsoi explains.
"We thus had the capability to produce high-quality IC lines, and quickly brought on-stream COB, COG and Flip Chip technologies. Later, in 2000, we set up a dedicated IC design company in Beijing."
Interestingly, Leadway has not forgotten its roots and still produces traditional PCBs. "The PCB is the backbone of the industry and we want to support our long-term customers," says Tsoi. "The difference today is that we own our factory and in addition make various types of PCBs - many of which are for use in the surface mount technology sector."
Tsoi explains that to stay ahead of competitors and up-to-date with the latest technology, the firm moved into high-end assembly.
"We are presently focussing on high-end, high-precision assembly services - such as Chip-on-Film [COF] - offered via ISA Micro-Electronics (KunShan) Co Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary in Jiangsu Province on the Chinese mainland," he says.
Tsoi also explains that the COF process refers to a semiconductor package especially designed for LCD applications. "This procedure should not be confused with Chip-on-Flex (flexible circuit). While the two look similar, they are totally different in performance."
He notes that COF is a two-layer structure, whereas flexible circuits require three layers. "COF is suitable for small hand-held electronic devices and is one of several ways to connect the LCD driver IC to the LCD glass," he explains. "COF is also much thinner than flex, and also more pliant."
The ability to handle complex miniaturisation is increasingly important. "With the immense popularity of the mobile phone, producers are looking for ways to create new models and add new features by cramming more functions into even smaller containers," says Tsoi. "For example, a three-inch LCD with all those functions means the driver IC is that much more complex. In addition to lots of connectors, it means very fine pitch assembly work that has to be quick, accurate and precise."
In concert with honing its assembly skills, Tsoi states that maintaining quality is a major focus for Leadway. "OEM clients want consistent quality and reliability, possibly more than price, and those factors keep them coming back to us," he says. "Furthermore, our one-stop-shop services plus our experience in product marketing means we can work closely with customers to develop new ideas."
Japan and the US are Leadway's major markets, while the company is fully primed to meet European RoHS requirements. Leadway also divides its resources and capabilities.
"Our ISO 9001-certified plant in Dongguan handles the assembly and support services for general products, the factory on the eastern Chinese mainland handles more complex items, while the Beijing operation is a highly specialised IC design house," Tsoi says.
"Most of the machinery enabling precision manufacturing was brought in from Japan, and we use optical alignment techniques to ensure precise machining," Tsoi adds.
Leadway clearly has its sights set on continuing success, and intends to stay up to date with the latest technology and techniques.
WRITTEN BY TONY HENDERSON
Leadway Technology Corp Ltd