SAN FRANCISCO—IPC, a global trade group that represents printed circuit board manufacturers and other electronics firms, launched a survey Thursday (May 3) to measure the impact of "on-shoring"—the migration of electronics manufacturing operations back to the U.S. from overseas.
IPC (Bannockburn, Ill.) said the survey would compile data to quantify on-shoring in terms of both location of operations and sourcing. Companies and suppliers in the electronics manufacturing industry based in the Americas can participate in the survey on IPC's website through May 25, the trade group said.
Electronics firms have for years been shifting manufacturing operations to emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere where wages are lower and labor laws less rigorous. In recent years, some companies have returned manufacturing to the U.S., saying that logistics difficulties and other issues make it more cost effective to build their products in the U.S. But while there is anecdotal evidence of the trend of returning manufacturing jobs to the U.S., no hard numbers exist to suggest that those returning jobs outpace the flood of continued manufacturing migration off shore.
But IPC maintains that it put data behind the anecdotes four years ago with a survey that confirmed some limited on-shoring was indeed taking place in North America. Since then, drivers of the supposed trend, including rising labor costs in China, hidden costs of overseas manufacturing and technology developers' need to protect their intellectual property, have been gaining momentum, according to IPC.
IPC said its new study looks at on-shoring from three perspectives: electronics manufacturing operations moving back to the Americas, new operations that companies choose to build in the Americas, and whether electronics companies are changing suppliers in order to source more materials from their home region.
The study is designed to measure the changes that have taken place since 2008, identify where and in what product segments on-shoring is occurring and explain why on-shoring is occurring, IPC said. The study is also designed to quantify the impact on revenue and jobs in the Americas and assess the current business environment as well as the future outlook of on-shoring, the trade group said.
IPC plans to publish the results of the new survey in June.
The offshoring of technology jobs has been an ongoing concern of EE Times and its readers for years. Over the past few months, EE Times has published several articles on the topic in an ongoing series entitled, "Rebuilding America." Most recently, EE Times reported in March on a panel discussion at the Design West conference that attempted to tackle the question of how innovation could continue in order for the U.S. amid the migration of technology manufacturing jobs to elsewhere in the world.
These study results should be quite interesting. Keep in mind there is a big difference between U.S. companies building products that will largely be sold in the U.S. vs. those building products that will largely be sold in Asia. Don't expect much on-shoring from the latter group.
All electronics manufacturers in the Americas are invited to participate in IPC's new study about the impact of on-shoring. Participants will receive the complete report on the results. To take the survey by May 25, please go to www.ipc.org/on-shoring
The community colleges have become centers for IT and mobile apps. I do not think manufacturing jobs are coming to U.S. because U.S. is not even prepared for manufacturing. Until we see data and balance it out with those that are being shipped to China, we cannot make sense of this trend. But from my understanding, the skill sets today are biased for Facebook, Google, Twitter jobs than bolts and nuts in Caterpillar or John Deere.
I don't know if wages are falling in the U.S., but I think there is ample evidence that they have been stagnant for a long time.
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the results of this survey. We've all heard about companies that moved manufacturing to China, then eventually came back because it didn't work out for logistics reasons, they didn't save as much as they thought they would, or they found the work force lacking, etc. Everyone who is afraid of the U.S. losing manufacturing altogether shouts from the rooftops when this happens. But is it really a trend? Net-net, is the U.S. actually regaining manufacturing jobs? I would need to see some data on that to be persuaded.