Every two weeks Electronics Supply & Manufacturing posts a question on our Web site (www.my-esm.com) inviting our readers to weigh in on an important issue of the day. It's one of the ways we stay focused on what matters most to you.
The question that we posted through mid-April asked you to identify the No. 1 challenge your company faces in 2004. The most popular answer, chosen by 28 percent of the respondents, was "Managing shortages of compo-
nents." As the market heats up, shortages, allocation and pricing pressures are a prime concern for engineering, supply chain, manufacturing and corporate managers. Electronics Supply & Manufacturing covered these topics in our April issue, and we will continue to cover them in coming months. Arguably, they are the defining issues of 2004.
However, what caught my eye in the survey is your concern with the accuracy of customer demand information. I won't bore you with a history lesson of why this is an important topic--the memories (and wounds) are still fresh. But I will ask you two questions:
1. Since 2001, have you implemented any meaningful, systematic changes in what you communicate to your supply chain partners? (For example, are you more rigorous in what you are gathering from your customers? Are you sharing more information, both quantitative and qualitative?)
2. Have you implemented any meaningful, systematic changes in the way you communicate demand information with your supply chain partners since 2001? (For example, do you communicate the same information to your EMS providers, distributors and component suppliers? Have you automated the communications process? Is it a two-way process?)
If you answered "no" to both questions, then the industry is destined to repeat the costly mistakes of 2001-2002.
If you answered "yes," then pat yourself on the back and be confident that your chances for survival are good. If you answered somewhere in the middle, then there's still a lot of work ahead.
My guess is most of you are somewhere in the middle. That's where we come in. Electronics Supply & Manufacturing is committed to providing insight into how to improve your predicament. Got other concerns? Drop me a line.
Bruce Rayner is editor-in-chief of Electronics Supply & Manufacturing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.