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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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North American PCB Industry Sales Up 9.1% in MayJune 25, 2021 | IPC
Estimated reading time: 1 minute
IPC announced the May 2021 findings from its North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program. The book-to-bill ratio stands at 1.11.
Total North American PCB shipments in May 2021 were up 9.1% compared to the same month last year. Compared to the preceding month, May shipments fell 0.2%.
PCB bookings in May rose 24.1% year-over-year. Bookings in May increased 12.8% from the previous month.
“The PCB industry enjoyed higher orders in May, while shipments were flat with the prior month. PCB shipments, like much of the electronics industry, are being impacted by higher raw material costs and longer lead times for some of these key materials,” said Shawn DuBravac, IPC’s chief economist. “The industry will continue to face these constraints in the coming months until markets regain equilibrium.”
Detailed Data Available
Companies that participate in IPC’s North American PCB Statistical Program have access to detailed findings on rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales and orders, including separate rigid and flex book-to-bill ratios, growth trends by product types and company size tiers, demand for prototypes, sales growth to military and medical markets, and other timely data.
Interpreting the Data
The book-to-bill ratios are calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.00 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which is a positive indicator for sales growth over the next three to twelve months. A ratio of less than 1.00 indicates the reverse.
Year-on-year and year-to-date growth rates provide the most meaningful view of industry growth. Month-to-month comparisons should be made with caution as they reflect seasonal effects and short-term volatility. Because bookings tend to be more volatile than shipments, changes in the book-to-bill ratios from month to month might not be significant unless a trend of more than three consecutive months is apparent. It is also important to consider changes in both bookings and shipments to understand what is driving changes in the book-to-bill ratio.
IPC’s monthly PCB industry statistics are based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid PCB and flexible circuit manufacturers selling in the USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB book-to-bill ratio by the end of each month.
Ventec Giga Solutions, the equipment division of Ventec International Group, has started offering a refurbishment service for separator plates used in PCB lamination processes.
Every year or so, I like to chat with my friend, M&A expert Tom Kastner of GP Ventures. I know he has been busy the past few years, so I was anxious to find out more about it. He is the one person I know who really has his finger on the pulse of the industry. Tom has always been a great source of information for me and the industry as a whole.
In a recent article for Design007 about sustainable PCBs, my colleague Ramon Roche wrote about the various environmental regulatory requirements all of us have to meet every day. He emphasized that regulations are used as a starting point. He stated, “We also require our suppliers to comply with local social and environmental regulations and be ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified, where applicable.” The ambition to create sustainable printed circuit boards (PCBs) is a continuous effort, and no single regulation makes a complete solution. However, applying all these standards together can help to create the most sustainable PCB possible.
It’s a well-known fact that if your company is not growing and moving forward every single day, it is dying. The same rule applies to technology companies: To stay alive, you must grow your technology by keeping up with your customers’ product technology needs. Too many printed circuit board fabricators are dying a slow death because they are not willing or able to invest the time, energy, money, and passion to always work on their technology.
One of my great joys as a grandfather of eight is spending time with them at the park. It doesn't take too long until I'm getting stuck on a slide that is too small for me or on the seesaw, with me on one side and them trying to lift me. At that point, they learn some harsh lessons in physics and how heavy Grandpa really is. A seesaw is a relatively simple device, but it’s a great way to explain a rather complex concept in PCB design: design tradeoffs. Each decision made throughout a design comes with inherent pros and cons.