As the new year beckons, IPC is ready to finish 2021 on a high note.
The “big” news around IPC was the recent release of our comprehensive report1 on the advanced packaging ecosystem in North America. One of the report’s major takeaways is that North America now finds itself in a worrisome predicament: it can design the most cutting-edge electronics but cannot manufacture them. We hope you take the time to check it out, share it with your networks, and stay tuned for more “industry intelligence” reports coming your way.
As we look toward the new year, here are some of the top issues we are engaged in, as well as some opportunities for you to get involved and make your voice heard. Please reach out to your IPC Government Relations (GR) team to get involved or ask any questions about IPC’s advocacy efforts. We are here to help you.
IPC Reports Calls for U.S. Government Investment in Advanced Packaging and PCBs
If the U.S. government wants to achieve greater innovation, resiliency, and security in the semiconductor supply chain, its investments in semiconductors must be paired with robust, multibillion-dollar investments in advanced packaging of chips and especially in advanced IC-substrates. Those were among the key findings of a new IPC report, which made 28 recommendations to address the gaps in industry capabilities and capacity in North America.
The report’s release comes amid ongoing U.S. government (USG) support for beleaguered chip manufacturers. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo recently called for increased funding of semiconductors2 and urged immediate passage of the CHIPS Act in the U.S. House following its June passage in the U.S. Senate. IPC supports the CHIPS Act, but without investment in other areas in the electronics ecosystem, the United States will be unable to manufacture the cutting-edge electronics it designs. IPC is increasing its government advocacy and industry leadership on these issues, and we will continue to make this case to policymakers.
And in continuing our mantra of “It’s not just chips,” this month we released an industry report by IPC Thought Leadership Program member Joe O’Neil documenting longstanding gaps in the PCB sector and why PCBs deserve much more supportive USG policy.
The report suggests that the PCB sector needs support akin to the major investments being planned in domestic semiconductor fabrication. The numbers show a cautionary tale. Since 2000, the U.S. share of global PCB production has fallen from over 30% to just 4%, with China now dominating the sub-sector at 50%. This means a loss of access to China’s PCB production would cripple U.S. manufacturing—failure to address this disparity could be devasting.
Over the past year, IPC has continually made the case to policymakers that PCBs must be considered a “technology focus area” in any investment made in U.S. technological resilience, and we will continue to beat this drum in 2022.
Current Conditions for the Electronics Supply Chain Remain Challenging
Last week, IPC released new reports3 on the latest sentiment of the global electronics manufacturing supply chain and the global economic outlook. The two reports indicated that many electronics manufacturers have continued to struggle with material and labor costs, as well as inventory and transportation constraints.
According to IPC’s latest Global Sentiment Survey, price increases within our industry have persisted, with nine in 10 electronics manufacturers reporting rising materials costs and nearly three-fourths reporting rising labor costs. Workforce issues also continued to hamper the industry, with respondents reporting that the ease of recruiting skilled talent had declined in North America. These numbers highlighted what remains a challenging environment for electronics as profit margins shrink, labor costs rise, and supply chain disruptions remain.
However, there might be some cause for optimism. Despite uncertainties now, supply chain disruptions have resulted in unfilled pent-up demand that could signal growth into the first half of 2022, which could be a historically strong year. But the trajectory of the economy will closely follow the trajectory of the pandemic, and the onset of the Omicron variant could pose a significant threat to the global economic recovery. For more on what might lie ahead, be sure to check out IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac’s Monthly Economic Outlook Report.
Stay tuned for next month’s reports, and please reach out if you have any questions.
DoD Updates to CMMC Will Benefits SMEs
In a June IPC report, nearly a quarter (24%) of electronic manufacturers said the costs and burdens of compliance with the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) may force them out of the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) supply chain. We are pleased to report positive movement on this issue, and electronics manufacturers will want to take note of the updates.
On November 4, the DoD unveiled a much-anticipated update to (CMMC)—called CMMC 2.0—which aims to minimize compliance barriers by reducing costs, particularly for small businesses. CMMC 2.0 also seeks to clarify and align cybersecurity requirements to other federal requirements and commonly accepted standards. Given the many concerns that were raised about CMMC 1.0, these common-sense changes are a big improvement. Meanwhile, recent reporting has signaled that the DoD is also considering offering financial or certification incentives to get contractors to reach CMMC compliance before CMMC 2.0 goes live. We will update you as the DoD’s plans finalize, and you can read more about what CMMC 2.0 means for our industry in an IPC blog.
Industry Feedback Needed on New Chemical Concerns
Chemical regulators are busy this fall, and there are new opportunities to share your input.
There are two active opportunities regarding possible restrictions on Bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenols of similar concern, which are found in epoxy resins and have utility in electronics. Feedback is due December 22 on a proposed restriction of these chemicals in the European Union. This call for information allows our industry an opportunity to share updated information on uses and alternatives in the downstream uses in polymers and other chemicals.
Feedback is also due March 16, 2022, on a Canadian request for information about manufacturers and importers of bisphenols and its uses. If bisphenols are essential to your company’s electronics-related manufacturing processes or electronics products, your insight could be critical. Let IPC’s environment and health expert Kelly Scanlon know if there is any way we can assist.
Regulators Ramp up Activity at EPA
Here in the United States, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has remained active, and we are pleased to see that they have been receptive to our concerns.
After considering input from IPC and other stakeholders, the EPA recently announced a proposed rule to further extend compliance deadlines on the final risk-management rule for phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1)—PIP (3:1)—a chemical substance used as a flame retardant and plasticizer in electronics. The new compliance deadline would be October 31, 2024, more than three years beyond the original deadline.
The EPA will examine new requests for extensions beyond the 2024 date by evaluating documentation to support specific uses of PIP (3:1) in articles. IPC, alongside CTA and ITI, has organized a list of documentation that will be useful to prepare a response to the EPA. We do not plan to oppose the newly proposed extension, but we will request to EPA that it be based on a “manufactured by” compliance date. Please check out our blog to read more on this issue.
Meanwhile, one issue that the EPA has grappled with throughout 2021 was the regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and we expect this trend to continue in 2022. Most recently, the EPA released a strategic roadmap on how it intends to regulate the chemical by 2023. The roadmap signaled that companies should be prepared to provide data and information about the usage of PFAS, which has uses in electronics manufacturing, in their products and processes.
IPC also recently submitted comments to the EPA on a separate proposed rule that would require all manufacturers and importers of PFAS to report information regarding uses of thousands of PFAS. Check out this IPC blog for our full comments. We expect to remain engaged on PFAS regulation issues for the foreseeable future, and we will let you know how to stay involved as well.
Let Us Know How Government Can Help or Hurt You in 2022?
As we look toward 2022 and plan our GR activities, we want to know how the IPC Government Relations team can best advocate for you.
What are some of the key challenges you are facing both now and in the future? Please click here to answer a quick, five-question survey, including one open-ended question where you can write anything from a few phrases to a 100-word story. Your responses will help illustrate the challenges facing our industry as we meet and engage with policymakers — your stories hold weight.
Although 2021 was a difficult year for many of us, we look forward to continuing to work with IPC members and policymakers to advance policies that promote increased innovation, investment, and growth in electronics over the coming decades.
See you next year!
- “An Analysis of the North American Semiconductor and Advanced Packaging Ecosystem: Rebuilding U.S. Capabilities for the 21st Century,” an IPC Summary Report, November 2021.
- “Raimondo Links Chips Act to Jobs, Urges Quick House Approval,” Bloomberg News, Nov. 29, 2021.
- “The Current Sentiment of the Global Electronics Manufacturing Supply Chain: Monitoring the Pulse of the Global Electronics Industry,” IPC, December 2021.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.