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Palo Alto, Calif. — The increasing shift of manufacturing facilities to low-cost areas, primarily China, is forcing vendors of automated testing equipment (ATE) for printed circuit boards (PCB) to re-think their business strategies to suit the new cultural environment.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World PCB ATE Markets, reveals that the market generated $873.7 million in 2002. This is expected to rise to $1.3 billion in 2009.
While test equipment continues to be manufactured largely in North America and Europe, a sizeable portion of manufacturing facilities have moved to lesser-developed areas such as the Asia-Pacific region, particularly China. The large, low-cost manpower pool and the growing concept of "just enough testing," wherein manufacturers now apply only the minimum amount of testing required, has impacted overall product quality. This has reduced both the cost of testing and the overall cost of manufacture. However, the demand for better testers is growing and vendors that target the easier-to-use, higher test-throughput testers will be more successful.
Contract manufacturers also are developing test methods as they strive toward more complete design-build activities, venturing into the area that was previously monopolized by original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). As large contract electronics manufacturers undergo globalization and OEMs outsource manufacturing, coordination of data between multiple production locations and outsourcing partners become strategically important. New test equipment and software needs to be developed to meet this challenge.
Since software allows for more flexibility, lower capital costs, and the potential for thorough and useful test solution incorporating both data capture and display, its benefits are expected to drive adoption.
The diversity of PCB ATE technology makes it difficult to offer any single viable test solution for all products. Vendors need to offer focused testers with maximum fault coverage for specific markets to gain market share.
Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic growth consulting. This ongoing growth opportunity analysis is part of the ATE Subscription, which also includes market insights on machine vision inspection systems, X-ray inspection systems and semiconductor test equipment. For more information, visit www.testandmeasurement.frost.com.