No New Lessons for 2014

Here we go again! It is 2014 and I have read the obligatory half dozen or so 2013 reviews about our industry. I searched for something unique, something significant, and something that would provide me with lessons learned that would indicate a direction to better face the future. I found none.

I then proceeded to read the rash of standard prognosticator “forecasts.” And I discovered what may be the treasure among the, well, I won’t say trash, but will say banal vague sameness. It is Dr. Jennie Hwang’s “New Year Outlook.” Hwang provides a broad look at the global and local economic impacts on our industry, notes (what I consider to be) a monumental event in the IC industry, provides a valuable perspective on China today – and tomorrow, itemizes important points to consider in hardware manufacturing, touches on print and optoelectronics, forecasts a PV market upturn, touches on regulatory environments, and proposes an interesting definition for “advanced manufacturing.”

My job is done. I no longer feel the compunction to generate a forecast. Instead, I will focus on assisting innovators to commercialize their products, solving business and marketing problems, helping companies to grow globally – and locally, and building a successful future for select participants in our industry. This includes evaluating existing and future supply chain strategies.

One must remember that China may not be the lowest cost source for various global markets, but it is certainly the best positioned site for providing products to its burgeoning domestic consumer market — the world’s largest — for automotive and wireless electronics. One must also consider what the renewed interest in regionalization may mean in terms of electronic manufacturing. It may be that another adjacent or nearby location would provide the best option in terms of regulation, taxes, labor, stability and infrastructure to serve the target market. It appears to me that if this were not so, then China would not be investing in operations in Europe and Latin America.

Do you remember when drilling services thrived in America to provide low-cost accurate drilling for PTH circuit boards? One would think that some astute businessman would create something similar to help companies get into the production of HDI boards. Well, it has been done — in South Korea. In 2013 Daewon Innovation started a laser drilling service for HDI boards with eight Sumitomo systems. Daewon is also a distributor of MacDermid’s specialty chemicals used in making holes conductive and filling vias.

Can America’s spirit and ability to develop an assembly line for high tech multidiscipline manufacturing be rejuvenated? Turn on your sound and watch the complete production of a complex system with over a million parts at the rate of one every 55 minutes – in early 1941!