Regional approaches to competitiveness

Of all key industries, manufacturing is among the first to have totally transitioned in light of a global playing field, with competitiveness hardly being defendable on the basis of pure technological supremacy: skills and expertise are easily transferrable and IP is difficult to protect. Today we see automotive manufacturing delocalized if not eradicated progressively from some of the regions, which were once seen as its homeland. The same happened to many other high-volume sectors, with entire districts changing continents.

Business models have been analyzed and transform to meet the globalization challenge. Nonetheless, leaning on low-cost labor or less regulated countries does not solve the competitiveness issue: production technologies undergo constant innovation, an essential element contributing to the bottom-line results of the industry.

The US focus on entrepreneurship

The current US administration under President Obama focuses in general on energizing new business, supporting start-ups and encouraging entrepreneurship. In light with this approach, “Changing technologies that are driving the electronics industry” will be center stage throughout the conference sessions held on the occasion of IPC Apex, America’s top electronics manufacturing show, taking place from March 25 to 27, 2014, in Las Vegas. Quickly following on to last November’s biennial global event Productronica in Munich, this event will offer the opportunity to measure the resilience and recovery of the US domestic electronics manufacturing industry, as well as to compare the different vision and approach to innovation which drives top-down, industry-wide programs in the North-American region, with respect to what we see happen in Europe.

The European focus on collaboration

Support to the industry has a very different profile in Europe and in its most powerful local economy, especially under the leadership of German chancellor Angela Merkel. Government-driven industry initiatives, such as the “Industry 4.0” program promoted throughout Germany, try to address today’s delocalization issues, aiming to reinforce the existing industry and to support its players which reached maturity and are now challenged by global competition. New framework programs bring about a new season of collaboration, by streamlining the contributions from the world of academy and the industry’s requirements. Future will tell how these different innovation paradigms will be interpreted and with which success.

IPC Apex in Las Vegas

As we look forward to the first of the electronics industry appointments and to meeting the American manufacturers in Las Vegas, we can rejoice at the focus on innovation, keeping with the event’s theme: “New Ideas… for New Horizons”. Industry experts will present 100 technical papers detailing original research and innovations in the areas of board fabrication and design, electronics assembly and test.

At IPC Apex, we will have the opportunity to learn about advancements in the areas of nanomaterials; solder paste and epoxy reliability; assembly and reliability of bumped components; printed electronics; miniaturization and high density; printing; embedded technology; corrosion and tin whiskers; BTC reliability; automation and many more.

SMT in Nuremberg

Later in the year, we will dive back into business models and strategies for the industry’s resilience and growth, as we meet at the European shows such as SMT, to tackle the subject of competitiveness from the point of view of end-to-end automation and quality. The invitation is launched for a new edition of the “Electronics Day” in Nuremberg, where the Sustainable Electronics Manufacturing Working Group will meet for the fourth time, for its annual European symposium on May 8, 2014.