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EMS leaders gathered on January 28 at IPC APEX EXPO 2019 to discuss issues critical to EMS providers today including supply chain issues, customer contracts, labor optimization and talent shortages, and market insights. Roundtable sessions offered dynamic discussions. Participants noted that the sharing of experience and networking that took place at these meetings was invaluable.
The highlight of the day was a supply chain challenges panel and discussion featuring supplier, distributor, and end-user perspectives on addressing component supply and lead time challenges. Panelists included Steve Ulm of Vishay, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of discrete semiconductors and passive electronic components; Olaf Korn of Arrow Electronics, a global provider of products, services, and solutions to industrial and commercial users of electronic components and enterprise computing solutions; and John Caltabiano of Jabil Inc., a top manufacturing solutions provider.
Among other factors, the panel pointed to customer-specific requirements as a key driver of supply chain disruption. Vishay’s Ulm brought to light many of the contributing factors to the growth in lead times and recent slowdowns. Arrow’s Korn highlighted the constant mismatch between downstream demand levels and upstream production capacity and complex demand patterns causing distortion of demand. He suggested BOM flexibility and forecasting far beyond lead times are key to mitigating supply chain disruption. Caltabiano from Jabil tagged a “new normal” with regards to how we think and plan supply chain, pointing to a consolidation of the supply base, demand expansion, and rapid technology transfer among other trends.
Elsewhere in the agenda, Jeff Roth and Allen Anderson of F&B Law Firm gave a thorough review in the much-needed area of customer contracts. Roth and Anderson addressed features such as compliance clauses, potential pitfalls or “gotcha” clauses, and other critical contractual considerations. The gentlemen from F&B stressed the critical nature of legal review in protecting company interests. Throughout the day, the forum tackled labor issues from two directions—automation opportunities and talent shortages. Neil Hamlett of IBM Watson brought to light some developing AI solutions. These new AI capabilities may soon have application in manufacturing processes where the challenges are affordability and practicality in high-mix, low-volume situations. Colette Buscemi, IPC’s senior director of education programs, provided a quick update on IPC workforce development initiatives as a lead-in to a roundtable discussion on experiences, ideas, and strategies to address workforce and talent shortages.
To read the full article, which appeared in the in the Real Time with... IPC APEX EXPO 2019 Show & Tell magazine, click here.