Foxconn Moves Intriguing

There is a lot of speculation regarding Apple’s stated intent to build a manufacturing site in the US. This is not a major move. Only 200 jobs will be created. I cannot help but wonder if this is related to Foxconn’s (Apple’s major supply-chain device manufacturer) recent offer to help train Americans in manufacturing technologies. Is there a greater strategy about to be implemented? Is it the precursor to a potentially much larger move as costs continue to rise in China? America is still the major market for Apple where new products are introduced. Do Tim Cook and Terry Gou have a larger strategic plan? As Sherlock might say to Watson, “Methinks a new game is afoot.”

The November contraction of the US manufacturing sector does not bode well for the domestic electronics industry. According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), the index declined to the lowest level in three years, as national factory activity fell to 49.5% in November from 51.7% in October. Expectations had been for a level of 51.3%. Levels below 50% indicate a contraction. These figures are reflected in recent IPC book-to-bill ratios. The news in Japan is also discouraging for that nation’s interconnect industries. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed negative growth for the country’s electronic industry in September. Not only is board production dropping, but so are board prices. Panasonic and Sharp have lost market share and are experiencing heavy losses, according to DKN Research. JX Nippon Oil & Energy (a major metal and oil supplier) has decided to close its PV silicon wafer business due to extreme global price competition. Uncertainty seems to reign everywhere. Many strategists are now working on improving efficiencies, finding new markets, and a resumption of growth in 2013.

For Americans, too? More cooperative activities reducing redundancy is needed between the IPC and the EIPC.

The EIPC made following announcement on Dec. 3: The EIPC has made an effort to provide the latest information on Standards for PCBs from Japan. The 4th edition was released at the JPCA Show in June 2011. The EIPC is encouraging the specialists in the European Electronic Industry to learn the knowledge that has been accumulated by the Japan Electronics Packaging and Circuits Association (JPCA) and documented in the Standard on Device Embedded Substrate Terminology Reliability Test/Design Guide Edition 4.0- JPCA-EB01 (2011) The English version of the document is on stock at the EIPC office in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

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About Gene

Gene Weiner has spent his entire career -- spanning more than 50 years -- in the printed circuit and semiconductor industries. He spent the early part of his career in R&D as a student technician at MIT Lincoln Laboratories, then became employee no. 4 at Shipley, and later vice president of sales and marketing at Dynachem and president of New England Laminates. He has been a consultant to leading materials, circuit board and semiconductor companies for several years, and sits on the board of Wong’s Kong King International and the MBA advisory board of the Malcolm Baldridge School of Business at Post University. He was inducted to the IPC Hall of Fame in 2006.