What Really Counts?

How do you do it today?

What really counts in this age of digitization, dehumanization and automation? Is the lowest “price” always the lowest cost? How do you define “customer relations” in the digital age? Does management know how to measure value in this world where variables are occasionally beyond actual or affordable control? What happens when custom products are priced as commodities? Does your supplier (who really is NOT your partner) promise you anything, then apologize later? Does your the new buyer/manager at one of your major customers suddenly ask for all of your quality-shipping records back to day 1 because years after nearly perfect performance you were short a few boards on a 1,000 piece delivery while he places the next release with a competitor of yours? (They are really NOT your “partner” either!)

Is there any loyalty left in the digital age? What do the new screen watchers, bloggers, and social media members value? Are we all scrambling for pennies while the dollars end up in the coffers of a few very large corporations?

Does EIT’s chapter 11 filing coupled with the announcement of negotiations to buy its remains signal the end of whatever American high-tech volume PWB leadership remains in America? It joins the long-gone leading domestic innovative volume board makers: Methode, Burroughs, IBM, Collins Radio, UNIVAC, DEC, Autonetics, Hewlett-Packard, Photocircuits, AT&T/Western Electric, Bureau of Engraving, Stromberg Carlson, and others.

Semiconductor forecasts for the next 1-2 years are strong (20+%), but how will they affect the PWB industries? Will advanced fabricators, such as AT&S and Unimicron, start making 2.5D packaging substrates? Will the other packaging companies follow Amkor’s lead? Will CAMEST help keep all informed of the seemingly endless choices and gaps that face the assembly and packaging service providers? How will new materials fit in? The biggest  increases will be in China, Europe, and Korea. Korea declined more than 20% in capital spending for chip production equipment  in 2012. Taiwan will remain the biggest buyer of new equipment at with a spend of more than $10 billion according to SEMI. This bodes well for those still building substrates and PWBs in 2014.*

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.
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