CADY developed solution for automatic PCB design inspection in the planning phase

Israel-based start-up CADY, the developer of AI-based technology for PCB inspection, completed a $3M funding round. The current round is led by Teramips Technologies and Udi Peless, the founder and former CEO of Friendly Robotics, which developed robotic lawn mower s. Friendly Robotics acquired by the American MDT in 2017 for $45 million, and Peless currently holds the position of CADY’s Chairman of the Board. Teramips Technologies is managed by Pavel Radziviovsky and Vadim Zlotnik, former founders of Visionmap, which was awarded the Israel Defense Prize and later acquired by Rafael in 2013. Other participants in the current round are TAU Ventures – Tel-Aviv University’s Venture Capital, which also invested in CADY at earlier stages – as well as Today Ventures, Aristagora VC, Tal Ventures, Atooro, Amit Gilon, Rafi Gidron and additional private investors. 

CADY was founded in 2020 by Gilad Shapira, CEO of the company, Tal Ben Porath, CTO, and Or Shabtai, Head of Research, who met during their joint service in the intelligence unit of the IDF. Including the current funding round, a total of $4M raised by the company since it was founded.

CADY operates in the emerging market of PCB (Printed Circuit Board) planning. As chips are being more and more complex, it’s been more complex to plan the electric circuits connecting the PCB’s components. As opposed to the chips’ planning area, where powerful verification and testing tools are highly available, the engineer planning the PCB is required to perform most of the tests manually or use colleagues. As a result, most of the electrical failures are coming to light only at the physical stage of the product, that is – at the prototype stage. When such failure is detected in the prototype, the engineer is forced to go back to the sketch table, locate the fault and re-send the modified design to reproduce the prototype. The process is a cumbersome, prolonged and costly process, adding the fact the PCB development processes require multiple prototypes production (re-spin) before mass production. 

Gilad Shapira, CADY CEO says to Techtime that his company’s solution is designed to meet the lack of automatic PCB inspection tools. “At present, there and no comprehensive automatic tools to assist the engineer at the planning stage’s inspections, and those processes are have to be carried out manually. This is a highly time consuming process and usually, not all failures will be detected by the engineer. Studies showed that at every planning contains at least several errors, a fact that requires issuing a re-spinning process.

CADY’s solution makes it possible to perform this inspection early at the sketching stage. The company developed designated software for PCB planning automatic inspection, based on an AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology. Using machine learning algorithms, the software scans the technical specifications of chips and other components and “understands” the requirements and characteristics of each component, such as voltage requirements, temperature and connections. At the next phase, the software compares the insights against the sketch, in order to identify planning failures at the early planning stages, before producing the prototype. The platform provides a promptly feedback to the engineer”.  

Shapira: “Current solutions available in the market are trying to base the inspection on electricity principles basics; these solutions are insufficient as they don’t take into account the varied requirements of each components and each manufacturer. Our advantage is not coming of unique expertise in electricity, rather it is the ability to convert technical specifications, usually written in natural language and saved as PDF, to formal language that makes it possible of running an automatic inspection of the circuit against the planning. Our main goal is to provide a solution that will reduce the number of re-spins to minimum or even to totally eliminate it”.

POCs with Intel and defense companies

According to the company, detecting failures at early stages improve and accelerate the planning phase, significantly save resources, shorten delivery schedule and increase quality and reliability of final product. Shapira: “Together with the chips market, the PCB market also experiences a dramatic increase in the planning and inspection complexity. Circuit made for vehicles, computers, phones and other devices becomes more dense and complex, embedded with more components, and thus harder to inspect. Now, more than ever, there is an imminent need for an automatic inspection tool, based on AI technology, to inspect electrical schemes. 

CADY has conducted several successful pilots with multinational technology corporate business units and Israeli defense companies, in which it successfully detected errors at early stages of the design process. Furthermore, CADY was admitted to Intel’s startups program, Intel Ignite, batch #5 and already conducted fruitful pilots with three different Intel business units. The raised funds will allow the company to recruit additional employees and advance to a commercial phase with its clients, leaving the pilot stage behind. 

PCB Technologies to produce 1 mil PCBs

PCB Technologies from Migdal Ha’emek (North of Israel) is ready to begin the production of high density Printed Circuit Boards for its cotumers in Israel and abroad. During the last couple of years it had developed the capability to produce very thick conductor’s width and spacing , of up to just 25 microns (1 mil).  During the project, PCB Technologies has established its own research and development experise in this technology and purchased unique equipment modified to the company’s specifications, using about a 20 million shekel investment.

According to the Vice President Of Marketing, Arik Einhorn, this move will allow the company to provide production services for costumers in Israel, Europe and the US, and to get ready for the next level of its technology roadmap: placing chips directly on Printed Circuit BoardS (Chip on Board). Arik Einhorn: “We are not a regular High Mix Low Volume company – we are also a High Performance solutions provider.”

Gainig foothold in Europe and the US

“We have noticed that our technology is highly advanced compared with Europe, and therefore we decided to strengthen this advantage in order to gain more foothold in the European market and in the US. One of the components of this move is creating the capability to produce 1 mil PCBs, which does not exist in the US and almost doesn’t exist in Europe. In fact, we found out that it exists today mostly in China and Taiwan because of the cellphone manufacturing done there. Only now the US government has decided that it needs to invest in creating 1 mil capability in the US.

“In this sense, PCB Technology will be among the first companies in the West Hemisphare to have this technology”. He relayed that the decision was made following an in depth process of research and talking with customers. “Our technology roadmap was determined during a series of focused meetings that we held with select customers in order to understand their needs and expectations.”

The roadmap was defined by the costumers

“These customers manufacture elite technologies for advanced radar systems, UAVs, minimally invasive medical equipment and more. We presented them with different options for advancement of our technologies, and they provided us with feedback about their needs. We defined our top goals based on those meetings. Some of them are already starting to plan future products based on our capability to produce 1 mil PCBs”.

A horizontal cut of 1 mil test board, that was produced at PCB Technologies
A horizontal cut of 1 mil test board, that was produced at PCB Technologies

PCB Technologies is an All-in-One solution provider for the fabrication of high reliability, multi-layer printed circuit boards and top-level assemblies (PCBA), mainly for defense, aerospace, healthcare, RF/microwave and telecom sectors. Today they employ approximatly 750 people. The company is is traded in the Tel Aviv Stock Market at market value of about 360 million shekels. Its major shareholder (48%) is Tel Aviv based FIMI Opportunity Funds.

PCB Technologies is looking for EMS Acquisition

Above: Assembly floor at PCB Technologies

The sales of the Electronic Manufacturing Services provider from the Galilee, PCB Technologies, were not affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic. “We have experienced growth in demand from our core customers in the defense and medical industries,” said PCB’s CEO Oved Shapira. “They were not affected by the Global pandemic. We even increased our investments in capacity building in order to meet their needs.”

During the second quarter of 2020, revenues grew by approximately 24% compared to the second quarter 2019, amounting to approximately $31.3 million. The growth was felt in the company’s two main areas of operations: the production of printed circuit boards and the assembly of electronic boards.

PCB Technologies reported a 45% increase in gross income (approximately $3.6 million) following the implementation of a plan to improve productivity on the production floor and to reduce fixed production costs. Net income was approximately $1.9 million, compared to $365,000 in the second quarter of 2019. In the first half of the year, sales totaled at approximately $57.4 million, compared to $54 million in the first half of 2019.

Expansion through R&D and Acquisitions

Shapira: “We recently acquired an account that may generate an additional annual revenue of about $5-8 million. This acquisition brings us new customers. We are constantly exploring options to increase production capacity in several destinations in the Western markets through attractive acquisitions.”

PCB Technologies is controlled by the FIMI Opportunity Funds private equity firm (approximately 48%) and is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange at a value of approximately NIS 366.7 million ($108 million). It provides complex printed circuit board production services and electronic manufacturing services (EMS).

It currently employs roughly 750 people. During the first quarter of 2020, the company established a large research and development department, in order to develop proprietary new technologies to innovate the production of PCB’s and bring new products to the market.

Eltek Brings New Managers to Regain Profitability

Eltek Ltd. (NASDAQ: ELTK) from Petah-Tikva, Israel, is reinforcing its top management to turn the achieve turnaround and become profitable. Eltek manufactures advanced printed circuit boards (PCBs), specially complex and high quality PCBs, HDI, multilayered and flex-rigid boards for the high-end market in Israel and the US. The company is struggling with low margins. Revenues for the first six months of 2018 were $17.6 million compared to $16 million in the first six months of 2017. Gross profit was only $1 million and the company announced $1.3 million Operating loss.

This was the background for the current move: Eltek appointed four industry experts to help its newly arrived CEO, Eli Yaffe, to shake the company. Gil Riff joined the Company as its VP Quality Assurance and Continuous Improvement. Previously served as the Director of Process Engineering and Printed Circuits Boards of the aviation division of Elbit Systems and prior thereto he was a factory technologist in Elbit System’s printed circuits boards department.

Shmuel Wider was appointed as VP of Sales. Prior to joining Eltek Mr. Wider served as the COO and CBO of Bio-Nexus Ltd., and prior thereto he served as the Vice President of Sales of AudioCodes Ltd. The Director of Operations is Itzik Tzemach, former Director of Production and Logistics for at Kahane Group and VP Operations for Zikon and Director of Factory Production at Aladdin. The role of Procurement Officer and Chief Information Officer was given to Mr. Assi Bachar, until lately the the Chief Information Officer for Comtal Group.

Eli Yaffe, CEO, said the new management team has already begun working together in harmony. “The team is highly motivated and is working hard to increase customer satisfaction and bring Eltek back to profitability.”