Another decade is coming to an end, so, forward thinkers, let's take this time to review the past, evaluate past decisions, and hopefully make prudent decisions to move forward in the ever-changing marketplace in which we exist. There has never been a Magic 8 Ball to predict what is going to happen, so we all do our best to calculate, look over the fences, and aim to remain in this competitive meat grinder we call “the market.” One thing I have learned in my 33 years in the electronics field is that you have to go to bed hungry. Tomorrow is a new day and possibly the beginning of a new era, so you will need to be sharp and eager when the sun rises.
We exist and compete in dynamic markets both abroad and in the Americas, and we see some of the same challenges in both theatres. For some perspective, I talked with Masayuki Komatsu, director of operations in our Japanese market. We discussed some of the challenges the Asian markets are facing. It’s not surprising that the same trials and tribulations are being felt there.
A strong opener is the increased trade friction between the U.S. and Chinese markets. This is having an impact on the Japanese market as well. Japanese OEMs are pulling some development back to Japan, while relocation to Southeast Asia is still increasing by others. As in the Americas, competition is fierce. Company closures, acquisitions, and takeovers increase the stress on the markets. Labor shortages are problematic in Japan, and manufacturers are recruiting foreign workers to fill the gaps. Unfortunately, the language barriers come into play, and effective communication becomes troublesome. This is not so different in North America. Unemployment is historically low, and many manufacturers struggle for skilled labor as the time to market is crucial, and the grooming time for new employees has to be accelerated to keep them competitive.
To read this entire column, which appeared in the November 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.