The NPI Awards consist of four categories: Equipment, Materials, Software and Process Innovation.


Automation tools (conveyors, feeders, etc.)
Cleaning equipment
Component placement - high-speed
Component placement - multifunction
Component placement - accessory technologies
Component storage
Device programming
Dispensing equipment
Labeling equipment
Process control tools
Rework and repair tools
Screen/stencil printing
Screen/Stencil Printing Peripherals/Consumables
Soldering - reflow (convection)
Soldering - wave
Soldering - selective
Selective soldering tools and accessories
Soldering - alternative (vapor phase, hot bar, laser, etc.)
Soldering - hand tools
Test and inspection - AOI
Test and inspection - AXI
Test and inspection - ICT
Test and inspection - SPI
Test and inspection - functional test
First Article Inspection
Curing Ovens (for non-solder materials)

Cleaning materials
Thermal Interface Materials
Soldering materials (paste, bar, wire, core, etc.)
Cored Wire

Software - process control
Software - production
Software - management (ERP, MRP, etc.)

Training Materials

Process Innovation

The Process Innovation category recognizes engineering work done at the assembly (OEM or EMS) level.
What qualifies? An innovation that represents an enhancement to existing equipment or process capabilities. It could be something as simple as making workers pass an ESD check before entering the factory. (This is now commonplace, but when introduced it was an elegant solution for cutting down on ESD issues.)
These innovations should have measurable cost-reduction metrics and/or quality yield improvement metrics.
How would we define process start? The year of introduction of the process is defined by the date the process innovation was first approved by the first assembler using it or by the date a patent application was filed. (It should be recognized that not all companies will choose to patent their innovation, of course.)

To avoid any IP disclosure issues, a company senior executive must authorize release of the information. Authorization shall be made to Mike Buetow, UPMG, at

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