Reading time ( words)
Last week we talked about planning and how important it is to a company’s future success. We discussed how important it is to sit down with your team members and plot out the future of your company. But one of the questions that came up after that was: How can you do that?
In fact, someone called to ask if there is some kind of document, some kind of report that can help printed circuit board companies evaluate where they are today and where they plan to be tomorrow, vis-a vis where their customers are going. In other words, how can we better plan for the future if we don’t have some kind of benchmark defining that future?
This question could not have come at a better time. When I received this call, I was sitting at my desk looking over IPC’s brand spanking new technology roadmap that co-author Marc Carter had just sent me. Talk about perfect timing.
So I can tell you that, “Yes, Virginia,” there is a document, the perfect document to help you plan the future of your PCB company. And that document is the new IPC Technology Roadmap, or, as it is formally called, The IPC International Technology for Electronic Interconnections Roadmap-2015. Phew! For the purpose of this column, I’ll just call it the 2015 Roadmap.
This comprehensive document not only includes the PCB industry, and not only the North American sector of that market, but it also addresses the future of our customers, including the OEMs, their end-customers, and contract manufacturers. The report also includes all parts of the world because ours is certainly a global industry.
As the introduction states, “Done properly, the IPC Roadmap is a living document with the market dictating shifts in emphasis depending on the user’s needs.” The authors focused on all aspects of our industry, bringing us, the users, a complete overview of where the market is today and where it will be tomorrow.
At almost 800 pages, the 2015 Roadmap covers everything about the future. It is a virtual crystal ball view of your customers’ future requirements.
Whether you are your company’s CTO or CEO, you will find this document extremely valuable. But why stop there? I believe anyone making a living in the electronics interconnect business will need this roadmap. From salespeople to CEOs, from vendors to fabricators, this is the one document that you need to have on your computer at all times.
The roadmap focused on three basic areas of the interconnect supply chain:
- Design and fabrication of semiconductors and their associated packaging.
- Fabrication of the interconnecting substrate for the semiconductor package and the product printed circuit boards.
- Multiple levels of assembly and tests.
But I don’t believe that this roadmap is for the techies alone. I think it will also be valuable if you are in the financial part of the business. If you’re a company controller, or someone who is interested in investing or receiving funding for a PCB company, you are going to need to know where the industry is going, and this is the document for you. Stop guessing and start getting it right by checking out this new roadmap.
Now, from the 2015 Roadmap, here are three brief glimpses into the future:
First of all, the world is going wireless, which means that RF microwave is going to grow, and then grow some more. Everything that takes wiring today will be wireless tomorrow. Everything. There are companies right now working on products to make your own house’s electricity wireless. Tesla just announced this week that it has developed a battery for your entire house. Think about that for a minute. Wireless means special materials, being able to fabricate PCBs with new high-speed materials. Get on it!
Secondly, everything is getting smaller and smaller, with more density per PCB than ever before. The lines will get finer and the pitches more severe. If you are serious about competing in the future world, you are going to have to produce boards that meet the parameters of that future.
The third issue is recycling. I know that you don’t like hearing this, but recycling is a fact of the future that you are not going to be able to avoid. Every country from Poland to Macedonia (yes, Macedonia!) is enacting new recycling laws and regulations that we are all going to have to meet. Get ready for more regulations around the world.
And yes another point to be made here is that this is truly a global Roadmap, covering future trends in terms of technology to reliability all around the world, especially including Asia. The world is getting flatter and smaller all the time, and with that comes homogenization that will level that playing field and make us all equal in the eyes of the regulators. No longer will an emerging nation wanting to get into our industry be able to duck under the regulation wires for a while. No, from now on, all countries, and the companies in those countries, will have to meet all regulations from the get-go.
Look, let me speak plainly here. If you are serious about your PCB company and its future, you need to do yourself a favor and buy this roadmap. Why continue to guess as to the future of our industry when you have a well-researched and documented roadmap to get you there? Take the guessing out of your planning. Go to IPC.org and buy the 2015 IPC Technical Roadmap ($225 for members and $450 for non-members). It’s only common sense.