This Month in PCB007 Magazine: The Pillar Roadmap


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As I spoke with Happy Holden about the four pillars of manufacturing, it became clear that they don’t stand on their own; they are intertwined. Happy pulls from his experience at Hewlett-Packard as he discusses benchmarking your capabilities, the competition, and market forces. He then turns that into a technology roadmap, which further drives the other pillars. Happy is adamant that to make all four pillars function properly in your business, you first need to benchmark your business and then create a roadmap. He says the roadmap identifies the specific functions required from the four pillars, and how each pillar supports the others.

Nolan Johnson: We’re examining the four pillars of manufacturing from a strategic level. I know that you will have comments on all four of the pillars: sales and revenue, technology, labor and skill set, and cost supply chain. But let’s start by concentrating on the technology and equipment portion. There is a lot of potential innovation just over the horizon for plating and PCB fabrication. How do you strategize for that in this current day and age?

Happy Holden: I always come back to the basics. First, where does a company sit in a competitive position? That usually happens by benchmarking. Are you where you want to be, and is your position going to create a profit margin for a competitive advantage that you can build on? This competitive advantage will support your current customers and bring future customers. Take an honest look at where you are. Are your competitive positions and strengths there for survival?

To stay in business and grow profits, do your research. Do you want to jump in with everybody else—such as an area dominated by Asia or those that have a lot of capital equipment—or do you want to jump to a growing area that requires specialization, in which you have a chance of bouncing to the top and gaining the profit margin you want? Once you determine your strategic visions, then you develop a roadmap. Now, how much will the roadmap cost? How much sales growth do you need at particular profit margins to support that roadmap? Next, your salespeople must present this vision—this is who we are, this is our strength, and this is the direction we feel matches your product development growth and needs, etc.

Most companies can’t afford to build a brand-new greenfield plant, but it can have some strengths, weaknesses to improve on, and incrementally, you can get to that position that you’re comfortable with. This industry changes so fast, so you need to do this exercise every three to four years. Electronics, products, and semiconductors change so much. Just look at heterogeneous integration. That particular roadmap goes out to 2035 because the semiconductor companies are going to spend billions of dollars. To support this electronics industry, you have to support how that will be implemented in terms of OEMs’ products.

To read this entire conversation, which appeared in the September 2020 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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