The NTI $100 Million Club Print E-mail
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Written by Dr. Hayao Nakahara   
Sunday, 31 August 2008 19:00

Today, 84% of bare PWBs are built in Asia, and there’s no end in sight.

Global Sourcing Of the 98 fabricators with revenues of $100 million or more in 2007, 31 are from Japan, 27 from Taiwan, 10 from the U.S. and nine from South Korea. This reflects each fabricator’s global output, although some companies may not be identified with specific nationalities. Of the 98 fabricators, 82 are Asian companies. It is no coincidence that, of the $51 billion in PCBs produced in 2007, 83.7% were made in Asia.

ImageAnother interesting observation is Japanese manufacturers either in Japan or overseas made 32% of them. Likewise, Taiwanese made 25%; U.S.-based fabricators made 13%, and South Koreans made 11%. However, although North America’s “domestic” production was only $4.45 billion (8.7%), North American-based companies produced about $2.23 billion worth of PWBs overseas.

(Volatile exchange rates make it difficult to rank international PWB fabricators accurately. Non-US fabricators that have facilities overseas account for that output in local currencies and then convert the value into U.S. dollars. The author then converts the consolidated output data into U.S. dollars using an average exchange rate. When the gap is only a few million dollars between two closely contested fabricators, this procedure can place one company over another simply based on currency exchange. Also, currency exchange rates have changed drastically since the beginning of 2007 due to the weakening US dollar.)

Several fabricators that were previously ranked failed to make this year’s cut. Some (Daisho-Microline, Marua Manufacturing) were ranked inadvertently as a result of the author’s errors. Others shuttered or sold plants (Innovex, Casio Micronics, Aspocomp, Sanyang Electro-Mechanics) or saw revenues nosedive.

Others were inadvertently omitted: DAP of South Korea and Brain Power of Taiwan among them. A “true” new member of the over $100 million club is Sun Wei Circuit Industry of Taiwan (with plants only in China). Sun Wei Circuits is probably one of the largest makers of silver-through-hole boards. Also, Jiangsu Suhang Electronics and Shennan Circuits of China had sales over $100 million in 2007.

Ibiden has held the top spot for the last three consecutive years and is likely to maintain its position for the foreseeable future. Given its capacity additions, a target of $2.5 billion will be attainable in a few years. The most likely contender for Ibiden’s throne is Unimicron. Compeq and Wus encountered a bit of a problem in 2007 because of the poor performance of Motorola, their major customer. According to Compeq, operating in China gets tougher every year. Unlike other Taiwanese fabricators aiming toward Vietnam for their next potential investment, Compeq believes Vietnam sooner or later will encounter the same problems faced in China today. Therefore, its plan may be to invest more in Taiwan. M-Flex at one point depended on Motorola for 83% of its revenue. Now its dependence is less than half, and it has started to experience solid growth again.

Sanmina-SCI shut down its Phoenix, AZ, and Germany plants last year, and its Costa Mesa, CA, facility earlier this year. What was once the world’s largest fabricator now has only two PCB manufacturing plants in North America: Owego, NY, and San Jose. Its plant in Kuching, Malaysia will be a central part of the Sanmina-SCI PCB division.

Meiko Electronics of Japan has been investing “Taiwan” style in Japan and China. It is building a $350 million complex west of Hanoi to produce PCBs and assemblies. It has two gigantic plants in China, one in Guangzhou, the other in Wuhan. There is a reasonably good chance Meiko will achieve $1 billion revenue within a few years.

Dr. Hayao Nakahara is president of NT Information and a consulting editor to PCD&F; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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