By modernizing the supply chain, printed circuit board makers can improve efficiency, quickly adopt new technologies, and capture lower costs.
The printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication industry is older than most of us still working. It is overdue for modernization. We have not seen any transformational manufacturing changes in the PCB bare board boards industry during the last 15 years.
What we have seen is the installed capacity moved to China. (It has been reported that 91% of global board fabrication now comes from Asia, with the vast majority from China.) This China move created a forced shift in how boards are purchased, and consequently created new demands in communication and logistics. Specifically, language, time zone, and cultural considerations. Bigger companies with China based feet on the ground could adapt easily, the rest of us had to learn new skills.
I am suggesting that the rest of us modernize and re-think our supply line strategy.
Some may remember the evolution of the electronic component industry. First the component manufacturers sold directly to OEMs, gradually customers and component manufacturers found that a better path was through a local distributor. Arrow, Avnet, Future, Digikey, and many others were born out of this efficiency. Today, it is an exception to buy directly from a component manufacturer.
PCB fabrication is difficult for distributors because every board is custom. Repeat: every board is custom. Custom equals high potential for error which equals close technical review is required.
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