One World, One Industry: Navigating Around the Future

Predicting the future is always dangerous. Happily, those predictions are rarely held to much scrutiny—perhaps because we all know that whatever is shared will, at least in some aspect, be wrong. There is much value in an ever-evolving conversation, enabling us to see and observe trends as well as the data that points to those trends. There are some paths that seem very likely, but the tricky bit is the timing. That being said, let me dip my toe into the world of prognostication for a little bit, but know that I realize that nothing is certain.

There are several very exciting, game-changing electronics industry technologies at the forefront. Any one of these would merit days of exploration, but out of necessity, I will just barely scratch the surface of each. As Dr. Humphries, my EE professor, used to say, “I will leave the details of that problem up to the interested and dedicated student.”

The development of true 5G communications, additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, new materials (graphene and other nanomaterials), quantum computing, and others is happening right now as you read this. Any one of these areas individually has the potential to greatly impact the future of electronics, the economy, and how we live our daily lives. However, the combination of two or more of these technologies could have awe-inspiring, and potentially fundamental, shifts in the way electronics are not only used but also made.

As much as I am sure all of us would like to spend some time geeking out over what some of those potentials are, I only have so many words available, and we also have to discuss some business shifts that will have as great an impact on our industry as upcoming technological advances.

The global marketplace is changing. How much or how drastically it will change remains to be seen. But let me share one scenario that I feel is likely. There is a great degree of distrust that has risen up between countries and regions (e.g., Brexit and various tariff disputes). This unrest and distrust will likely result in more regional and national approaches to the building of electronics.

What might this look like? As more regional resiliency is desired, at a minimum, I expect a deeper expectation from the large component distributors to have more vast stores available regionally. A more costly approach may also be to create a local version of the total supply chain, so if something breaks down with a partner, local options might be expanded as required.

Given the tensions between nations, I expect this regional trend to last through the 2020s. After some time has passed and trust has been developed or enforced, the costliness of a heavy regional and local approach to manufacturing will become less tolerable, and a purer globalized supply chain will begin to advance once more. As a global association, we work closely with our international partners to maintain awareness of international events that affect the electronics industry.

As I mentioned earlier, the danger of predicting the future is that there are so many potential variables to consider. Think back to just last year. Those who thought 2020 would have the economic performance we’ve seen would have likely pointed to a tariff war or perhaps even actual war as the impetus that might cause such a shift. I don’t know of anyone who predicted that we should watch out for a killer virus.

Because none of us can see into the future, we need a deep knowledge of our own industry and how it changes rapidly, and how it reflects the upheaval in the world. When holding a roadmap that points to excessive change and disruption, we can more easily deal with those difficult situations as they arise.

Dr. John Mitchell is president and CEO of IPC. To read past columns or contact him, click here.

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2020

One World, One Industry: Navigating Around the Future

10-21-2020

Predicting the future is always dangerous. Happily, those predictions are rarely held to much scrutiny—perhaps because we all know that whatever is shared will, at least in some aspect, be wrong. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell dips his toe into the world of prognostication for a little bit, realizing that nothing is certain.

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One World, One Industry: 3 Tools That Should Be in Your Leadership Toolbox

08-24-2020

There can be a lot of weight given to the abilities of the leader of an organization. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell shares three tools that should be in your leadership toolbox and a couple of themes to keep in mind.

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One World, One Industry: A Lasting COVID-19 Lesson—Resilient Regional Manufacturing Networks

07-24-2020

Sophisticated global supply chains are generally efficient in meeting societal demands, but the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates that—in times of crisis—these supply chains can break down. IPC's Dr. John Mitchell emphasizes the need for resilient regional manufacturing networks across North America.

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One World, One Industry: Problem Solving While Innovating

06-15-2020

There is a saying that true character is revealed by the choices we make under pressure, and this is certainly true of this very uncertain time. John Mitchell shares ways those in the electronics manufacturing industry are working together to find solutions.

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One World, One Industry: Separating Hype From Reality—What’s Next for the Future of Electronics?

05-19-2020

Matt Kelly, a familiar face in IPC standards development and widely recognized in the global electronics industry as a thought leader and an innovator, was recently hired as IPC’s chief technologist. Dr. John Mitchell sat down with Matt to ask him about his new role, as well as industry trends.

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One World, One Industry: The Future of the Electronics Industry

03-15-2020

When I speak to experts in the field, what strikes me most about our conversations is the accelerating pace of change and opportunity on so many fronts. This industry knows all about change. We are disruptors, and we are used to being disrupted ourselves. From smart factories to artificial intelligence and additive manufacturing, this industry will see its share of change in the coming years. IPC will be at the forefront of that change.

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One World, One Industry: Three Workforce Lessons From Manufacturing Plants Around the World 

02-15-2020

During Dr. John Mitchell's latest international listening tour of manufacturing plants, he saw how workforce challenges in the U.S. extend globally. The good news is that, through shared experience, we can develop shared insights and solutions. John offers the conclusions he has drawn from meetings with operators and managers across the electronics industry about the current labor environment.

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One World, One Industry: IPC APEX EXPO 2020—A Special Anniversary Year

02-03-2020

This year marks the 20th anniversary of IPC APEX EXPO, and IPC is thrilled to celebrate this event milestone with attendees, exhibitors, and presenters. Their dedication to and involvement in IPC APEX EXPO is directly responsible for its success, and their efforts clearly illustrate how the entire electronics manufacturing industry comes together to “Elevate the Excellence of Electronics”—this year’s theme.

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2019

One World, One Industry: Rising Tariffs Put a Painful Squeeze on Electronics Manufacturers

12-23-2019

IPC recognizes that you are greatly affected by the ongoing tariff dispute between China and the United States. To date, the two countries have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports in a tit for tat that could escalate further if an agreement is not reached soon. Dr. John Mitchell discusses IPC's recent survey of U.S. members and the organization's perspective.

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One World, One Industry: Opportunities Abound for Learning at IPC

11-13-2019

It’s fall, and students are heading back to school. Will you be joining them? IPC offers many opportunities for continuous learning, enabling you to enrich your career and increase your value to your company.

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One World, One Industry: Maintaining a Strong Economy Through Workforce Development

09-25-2019

As members of the electronics industry, we work in a quickly evolving technological field illustrated by continual change and advancement. We must have a workforce that is ready to meet these advancements. We are firmly committed to providing growth and opportunities for American workers as we plan for a future where we don’t know what the jobs will be.

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One World, One Industry: CFX and Hermes—Plug-and-Play IPC Standards Building Momentum for Industry 4.0

09-13-2019

IPC is removing barriers that hamper executives' ability to align their companies with Industry 4.0 by providing the building blocks for seamless machine-to-machine and machine-to-ERP communications. Released earlier this year. Two standards are released recently: the IPC-2591 (CFX), and the surface-mount equipment communication standard IPC-HERMES-9852, The Global Standard for Machine-to-Machine Communication in SMT Assembly.

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Emerging Engineer Program: A Unique Opportunity Offered by IPC

07-05-2019

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is being able to offer new engineers a leg up early in their career, and I am especially thrilled when I can do it personally. Often, this can be as simple as connecting them with an industry leader. Wonderfully, this was something I was able to do IPC APEX EXPO this past January.

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2018

One World, One Industry: IPC Legislative Victories Reached with Outstanding Member and Industry Support

11-27-2018

After months of working with legislators in the United States to ensure our industry is well represented, I am pleased to say that we have been successful in our efforts—particularly concerning defense electronics and workforce education.

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One World, One Industry: Back to School with IPC EDGE 2.0

11-05-2018

IPC spent the summer gearing up for new education and certification platforms, and has announced that IPC EDGE 2.0 is ready for all certification users. John Mitchell talked with David Hernandez, senior director of learning and professional development, and Kris Roberson, director of certification programs, to talk about what’s new in education and certification.

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One World, One Industry: Meet Nicolas Robin, IPC’s New Senior Director in Europe

11-02-2018

In May, IPC Europe welcomed new Senior Director Nicolas Robin. Based in Brussels, Nicolas will represent IPC and the electronics manufacturing industry in Europe. I recently sat down with Nicolas for a one-to-one conversation to get to know him better and introduce him to fellow electronics industry members.

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One World, One Industry: Automotive Electronics—Past / Present / Future

08-17-2018

As electronics play an increasingly important role in automotive manufacturing, tremendous change and great progress have been made worldwide. We are at the crossroads of incredible technological advancements, and it’s been exhilarating to watch. I am eager to see what happens next.

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IMPACT 2018: We Need Your Voice in Washington, D.C.!

07-23-2018

It’s that time of year again: IPC’s IMPACT Washington, D.C. 2018 is on the horizon. As a global, industry-driven organization, IPC exists to help its member companies innovate, compete, and succeed in the electronics industry.

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IPC Addresses Skills Gap

07-04-2018

A recent IPC global survey found that while the skills gap may vary depending on the job role and geographic location surveyed, many companies in the industry are struggling to find the talent they need, and the problem is expected to continue over the next decade.

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One World, One Industry: IPC’s Job Task Analysis Committee Needs Your Expertise and Experience to Address the Skills Gap

06-25-2018

IPC is investing in the future by supporting our members’ workforce and training needs to meet the demands of a continually changing and advancing industry. With the creation of our Job Task Analysis Committee (JTA), we are collaborating with a group of industry subject matter experts tasked with the responsibility of defining a competency model for the electronics industry.

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One World, One Industry: Meet IPC’s Vice President of Global Government Relations, Chris Mitchell

05-29-2018

In this new role, Chris will work closely with IPC’s Government Relations Steering Committee and its government relations team based in Washington, D.C. Chris will represent IPC and the electronics manufacturing industry before key policymakers globally and identify issues and other opportunities where IPC can demonstrate its leadership in government relations and public policy.

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One World, One Industry: Skilled Talent—Can We Meet Rising Demand?

04-02-2018

In 2018, the U.S. GDP is expected to continue its rise, while unemployment rates are expected to drop further. Experts agree that the global economy is also showing signs of strengthening.

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One World, One Industry: Electronics Industry Advocacy More Important than Ever

02-23-2018

From the Americas to Europe, Asia and beyond, the future of the electronics manufacturing industry is shaped in many ways by government policies. This will be true like never before in 2018, as legislators and regulators the world over are eyeing policy decisions on issues such as technology research and development, taxes, workforce skills, and the environment.

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2017

One World, One Industry: Connecting the Dots Between Manufacturing and Community

11-24-2017

Across the United States, the first Friday in October represents the annual celebration of Manufacturing Day. On this date, manufacturers and supporters come together to celebrate the longevity and success of our industry. Since 2012, Manufacturing Day has served as a chance to learn about the businesses that thrive in our communities and contribute greatly to the economy.

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One World, One Industry: Pursuing New Solutions to the Electronics Sectors’ Skills Gap

11-15-2017

In a recent survey of our U.S. member companies[1], most said they have a hard time finding local talent to run their businesses. Respondents cited many essential skills that are in short supply, but the most common ones are soldering for production jobs, and engineers with industry experience, especially in process, test, and quality control. Making matters even more challenging, as new innovations emerge, new skills requirements emerge as well.

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One World, One Industry: The Future of Electronics in the Automotive Industry

09-15-2017

Automotive electronics is not a new topic. While there is a trend for both performance and luxury electronics, many of the recent conversations tend to focus on self-driving/autonomous vehicles. While the technology is exciting, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

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One World, One Industry: India Makes Manufacturing Gains to Participate in a Global Economy

08-18-2017

The manufacturing industry is truly a global one. While the past few decades have seen the rise of manufacturing in China and countries throughout Europe and South America, the last 10 years have been marked by significant progress in India. While the greater Asian area has flourished, India has been hampered by many factors including a struggling infrastructure.

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One World, One Industry: Three Ways to Close the Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing

07-12-2017

The skills gap is a chronic problem in the manufacturing sector. Most manufacturing companies have a hard time aligning the talent needed to run their businesses with the talent that is available to work locally. And as new innovations emerge, new skills requirements emerge as well.

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One World, One Industry: Having an Impact from the Shop Floor to the Halls of Government

07-07-2017

When you have concerns about government regulations and policies that impact your business, what can you do? Among several options, a direct approach is one of the best: Reach out to your elected officials and share your concerns. The odds are good that they will be responsive and look into ways of helping out a hometown business.

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China—A Critical Partner for Trade

06-09-2017

Count me among those business leaders who thought the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was on the right track last year and would have brought significant benefits to all nations, including the United States. Before President Trump withdrew the United States from the TPP trade negotiations, I had argued it would have unified the world’s most dynamic economic region—bringing together developed and developing countries that collectively represent 825 million consumers and 40% of the world’s economic output.

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One World, One Industry: 100 Days In—President Trump and a Better Manufacturing Policy

04-19-2017

To truly increase the number of American manufacturing jobs, President Trump should support increased investment in research and development for advanced manufacturing, promote and fund STEM education in primary and secondary schools, and build stronger apprenticeship programs. It is this type of investment—in human capital and technology—that will truly help make American manufacturing great again.

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One World, One Industry: IPC’s Global Policy Framework for 2017—Smart Advocacy for the Industry

04-10-2017

As President Trump was being sworn in several weeks ago, and as the new Congress was getting down to work, IPC released its Global Policy Framework for 2017. As we work to represent more than 3,800 member facilities across the electronics industry’s global supply chain, IPC will adhere to this framework to guide our policy work in the coming months. All of our advocacy efforts are aimed at fostering an environment in which electronics manufacturers and their suppliers can thrive and grow.

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One World, One Industry: Emerging Technology, Training for the Future, and the Next Industrial Revolution

02-13-2017

Technology isn’t just a tangible entity. It moves beyond what we can see, feel, and touch. It is ideas and theories. It includes philosophy and risks. In a way, technology itself is like the stock market. Different industries hedge their bets on emerging trends. These trends develop into useful products that change our world.

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2016

One World, One Industry: Strengthening Your Value Proposition to Boost Organization Success

12-16-2016

John Mitchell's new column's title says it all: One World, One Industry. In the coming columns, the IPC president will be covering issues affecting the entire global electronics industry supply chain with specific expertise on global standards, education, advocacy and solutions.

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One World, One Industry: Six Leadership Lessons from 20 Years in the Electronics Industry

11-07-2016

The orchestra conductor is an apt metaphor for the successful leader. Effective leadership often boils down to the ability to inspire others (the symphony) to their best work, while keeping and driving the overall vision of the organization (the musical score).

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One World, One Industry: Voting — A Civic Duty and Industry Opportunity

10-17-2016

On Tuesday, November 8, more than 240 million people in the United States will have the opportunity to go to the polls and vote, make their voices heard in government, and influence the direction of public policy for years to come. Much of the world is closely watching with interest in this major U.S. election.

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