Busting Constraints

I had the pleasure of attending InForum’s quarterly meeting yesterday, and wanted to share my experience.

InForum, of course, picked up the Quarterly Forum electronics industry research arm that once was operated by Technology Forecasters under the name TFI Quarterly Forum. When TFI founder Pam Gordon decided to concentrate on environmental issues surrounding the electronics supply chain, she turned over the more traditional market research arm to Kathleen Geraghty and Doug Kent.

Having attended several Quarterly Forum meetings in the past, they typically could be described as a combination of research reports and “group-think” breakout sessions.

I found the research both in-depth and pretty darn accurate. The group-think sessions have been more problematic. They tended, in practice if not by design, to be too oriented toward complaints than solutions. During the meeting, EMS companies would beat up OEMs for past sins (primarily, for asking for too much while paying too little), and OEMs would appear properly contrite, but nothing ever was truly solved.

What I liked this time around is that the participants encompassed more of the entire supply chain, from foundry to OEM. TMSC was there, as were several members of the disty community (thanks in no small part to meeting host Avnet), several OEMs and some Tier IV EMS firms. Moreover, the nature of the presentations and subsequent discussion, at least this time, was more specifically targeted at fixing a specific problem, in this case, capacity constraints (read: component availability). While many of the recommendations centered on individual company solutions (how to get yours, even while other companies can’t) as opposed to systemic ones, in my opinion this approach nevertheless was better than the persistent pricing whines that never got us anywhere.

I’ll save the revelations of the discussions for another day, but suffice it to say, I like where InForum is headed.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association (pcea.net). He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow