Engineering Tomorrow, Today: An interview with Thilo Sack, Principal Engineer, Celestica

  • Celestica  |
  • 2019-09-17
Thilo Sack with 25 logo

The past quarter of a century has brought the Internet of Things, cloud computing and other tremendous technological advancements that have connected the world and transformed the global economy. It’s been an inspiring 25 years and we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next as we work with our customers to unlock the potential of the future.

Over the remainder of this year, we will be highlighting the perspective of some of our engineers and you can see first-hand how they are engineering tomorrow, today.  First up, is Thilo Sack, Principal Engineer from Celestica’s Global Technology & Operations Group. Thilo is based in Toronto and has been with the company for more than three decades.

What is your role and the role of the broader engineering team at Celestica? 
I’m a Principal Engineer on an incredible team that has the exciting job of identifying new technologies that our customers can use to drive innovation in developing their next-gen products.

We keep our ears to the ground to help determine what is next. As part of that effort, Celestica is committed to working with consortia and partners, which has proven time and again to be invaluable. In fact, we’re active participants in the High Density Packaging (HDP) User Group, which is focused on driving innovations in the electronics industry through collaboration. I’ve been on the Board of Directors for this consortia and served twice as the Chairman of the Board. We’re also part of iNEMI (International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative) and Universal Instruments Consortia.

This is the first step in developing and delivering new technologies. Being part of the right groups helps us to see around corners and anticipate where markets are going. We need to be ahead of what our customers need to help them differentiate.

How do you work with our customers to help them anticipate the technology of the future?  
It’s imperative that Celestica be at the forefront of technology in order to meet our customers’ needs. Roadmapping the future with our customers means that we are not looking at the next technology in the pipeline. Rather, it means we are projecting two to three years out and ensuring that by the time our customers’ products reach our manufacturing floor that we can execute flawlessly and at high yield. 

Our customers trust us to bring the best solutions forward. The acceleration of technology innovation has made roadmapping with our customers essential to designing and building the  future technology that will shape our world.

What are some of the new technologies or trends that excite you most?
1.  5G will enable smarter smart cars:
As smart cars become more common, the data exchange between vehicles on the road will happen at the local level vs. going to remote cloud computing server farms for processing. A car will “talk” to a neighboring car in real-time. 5G will play a major role in making this type of connectivity and communication possible – both in terms of data processing and speed. We should all expect to see a lot more intelligence built into the vehicles that will allow them to converse with one another.

2. Predictive maintenance vs panic maintenance:
We’re going to see companies make better use of production data and develop models to deliver more accurate analysis, faster to support the maintenance of machines. 

Predictive maintenance is becoming a greater focus for companies, instead of waiting until something breaks and going into panic maintenance mode. Currently, machine maintenance programs are prescribed by the manufacturer, but the machines on the floor provide us with reams of real-time performance data. 50 GB per machine, per month to be specific. The key is leveraging this big data and analytics to better manage, predict and avoid potential down time before it occurs.

We know that before a machine ultimately fails it provides warnings.  An anomaly that may go unnoticed to the eye of the operator, but not to the data being collected.  Employing the right computer modeling algorithm to capture the anomalies, we will then be able to ensure maintenance practices are planned in advance and are set to optimize performance, avoid prolonged downtime and increase safety with real-time specific data.

3. The circuit board of the future:
Currently, data signals are transferred electrically on a circuit board via the copper traces. The problem: copper is proving to be insufficient as data loads become increasingly larger. It simply cannot transfer data fast enough.
The solution will be to switch from copper to fiber optics and transfer data at the speed of light via photons instead of electrons. The possibilities of embedding optics directly into the circuit board will enable a dramatic new way in how computing is done.

Looking back at your 30 years at Celestica, what is most memorable?
Throughout the past three decades, our industry has gone through several significant shifts that have changed the way we work. Whether it was the transition from pin through hole to surface mount technology or the industry shift to lead-free, we were at the center of the change - understanding the technology and helping our customers navigate the new environment.

We have always been proud of our technology leadership and committed to extending this know-how to enable our customers’ success. What is most memorable to me? It’s our commitment to excellence and constant drive to work together to help our customers find the way. This is in our DNA and makes me proud to work at Celestica.