Rethinking Reshoring

The reshoring drumbeat continues to get louder, and has now attracted the attention of the trade groups. The IPC this week launched a survey in an attempt to quantify the trend.

I took a look and would admit to finding the way some of the questions are asked perplexing — click here to see for yourself — because I don’t think that the answers derived will necessarily show whether the trend is real or not.

Most of the survey is aimed at where manufacturers plan to locate their sites, as opposed to where buyers intend to source from. In my experience, manufacturers are the tail on the supply chain dog: They move to where they think they can land the most business.

Another potential problem I see is the way the questions are worded. For instance, one  asks, “Does your company plan to move existing operations to the Americas in the next three years?” If the respondents are primarily US-based companies with US-only operations, then the trend may well appear to be “no.”

The supply chain is very complicated, and the implications of reshoring a potential game-changer for many companies. I commend IPC for its attempt to generate some quantitative analysis, although I’m uncertain whether the questions as asked will get to the core of what’s really happening (or not happening).


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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( 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

One thought on “Rethinking Reshoring

  1. I agree, Mike. Although the survey asks where one’s business is headquartered in the world, the questions assume that you are a US company with US manufacturing.
    “Has your company moved any of its existing operations from overseas to the Americas in the past four years?”
    [overseas is the Americas to an Asia or Europe based company]

    “Has your company adopted a strategy or policy aiming for more domestic sourcing?”
    [I assume they are thinking of US based companies in this question, but ‘domestic’ is reletive]

    “What products does your company now purchase from suppliers in your region that were previously sourced overseas?”
    [this question is almost inpossible to answer. For example, we have sites in every region and source solder from the region in which our site i slocated. The question makes no sense]

    I agree that IPC should be commended for trying, but I ended up not submitting the survey because I just couldn’t answer the questions. Creations of survey’s is always felt to be simple, but in fact is a real science to do it right. Plus one of the rules for survey creation is to send it out before release to a cross section ‘test’ audience to get feedback. I would bet they didn’t do that. I fear that their results will get published, but may not mean too much.

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