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Getting to Know Your Designer
In this issue, we examine how fabs work with their design customers, educating them on the critical elements of fabrication needed to be successful, as well as the many tradeoffs involved. How well do you really know your customer? What makes for a closer, more synchronized working relationship?
In this issue, the biggest names in PCB manufacturing share their economic outlook for the upcoming year and beyond. As you will see, they were all bullish on our industry, but there was some apprehension as well. No one wants to get burned by another the supply chain disruption.
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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
By Nolan Johnson
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Nolan’s Notes: Set Your Sails Properly
In the world of sailing, we talk about headwinds—that strong wind that opposes forward motion—to gain momentum (mostly). But isn’t this counterintuitive? How can wind pushing into your sails help you move in the direction you actually want to go? Of course, it’s much more easily understood when we apply the principles of aerodynamics—which I think most of us understand—and some sailing techniques that take advantage of the headwinds. So, I wasn’t surprised when the term headwinds popped up frequently in our discussions for the December 2023 issue of SMT007 Magazine about the current economic climate.
I have some sailing experience in my background and what I’ve learned is that sailboats can and do sail almost into the wind. Generally, the sailboat must be aimed so that the wind is off to the side of the bow just enough to inflate the sails. Most modern sailboats are sloops using triangular sails. The shape of the sails is important: When the sails inflate, the shape is much like an airplane wing. Some of the force pushing the sailboat forward comes from the wind pushing against the back side of the sail, while much of the force comes from the “lift” created by the airfoil shape across as the wind passes over the front of the sail. That lift is directed, not upward like an airplane wing, but forward, pulling the boat across the water. In other words, sailboats take advantage of the headwinds to create momentum.
So, when talking with IPC’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, for example, about headwinds in the global economy, I knew exactly what he meant. Metaphorically speaking, while it seems intuitive to try and sail around the winds or wait for a day when the winds look more favorable, Shawn suggests being realistic about what’s in front of you and adjusting your sails to create space for growth. A bit of a zig-zag, to use a sailing term. He addresses the needs directly for contract manufacturers who have questions about investing, supply chains, talent management, and more.
We also heard about headwinds in our interview with Amy Pine and Brian Carey of Innovative Capital Resources, which provides capital and operating leases to the EMS provider industry. Amy and Brian stay as close as they can to the technology side of the business so they can better understand what headwinds mean to electronics manufacturing. Their counsel is well placed.
This issue also features Q&A sessions with several EMS providers who share their vision for 2024 and some of the biggest challenges they face. I think you’ll find you’re in good company.
I round out this issue with strong columns from Mike Konrad, Michael Ford, and Ron Lasky—whose story about Professor Patty’s travel mishaps are probably ones we all can relate to.
While many of you might well be into your fiscal year, I have a strong suspicion that you’re constantly adjusting those “sails” to stay afloat. This issue of SMT007 Magazine takes stock of the current economic outlook, the headwinds, and how companies are using current conditions to move themselves forward, through technological evolutions, workforce shifts, and financial changes. Even with these headwinds, there is forward progress to be made.
Wishing you all a joyous end to 2023. I’ll see you in the new year.
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