Morgan and Starkey on CPCA 2016, Automation, and the Upcoming ECWC14

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Starkey: So really it's a bit of paradox because the perception is “manufacture is low cost in China because of low cost labor,” but if you automate the whole process it's really just down to intelligent choice of process and the right capital investment in the right equipment, the right automation and not many people involved. So, could you not just lift that automated model and place it anywhere else in the world?

Morgan: Well, yes.  There is no doubt that it started out here because of low cost labor but now they are going to very large automated model. In the end they'll become self-sustaining, if you look around now, the supply base is really in China and in Asia. This means for everything—you think of raw materials, chemistry, equipment—it's all here.

All that really isn't here are two things, the start and the end! So design is largely not here, and the consumer market is largely not here either. Design authorities are mostly still in North America and Europe and the biggest consumer market in the world is still Europe, followed by North America. So actually, the middle of it is all done here with the supply chain all around.

If you think about Europe, think about North America, think of all the chemical supply companies and laminate supply companies that used to exist. There are very few now, and these are concentrated into very large successful operations, many in Asia supplying an Asian market. So you couldn't pick up just the PCB bit any more, you’d need to pick up the whole supply chain as well, and that's too much.

Starkey: I think you've clarified my understanding with your explanation; thanks very much.

To change the subject Alun, you’re involved with the World Electronics Circuits Council; where is WECC going?

Morgan: Well, it's been good to see the turnout from the trade associations here. We've had a great turn out for the WECC dinner and all the trade associations from around the world have been present. So the next step really is the World Convention which comes around every three years.

Starkey: Where will that be next?

Morgan: The EIPC hosted the last one in Europe in 2014, which seems a long time ago now. The next one is in Korea in April 2017 and will be hosted by KPCA, the Korean Printed Circuit Association.

Starkey: Will it be a convention in its own right or will it be attached to a trade show?

Morgan: It will be a trade show plus world convention. That’s one thing we don’t have in EIPC is a trade show attached to a conference. All the rest have a trade show attached, and KPCA has a big show every year anyway in Seoul, so next year they will have the World Convention attached to it. There is a full contingent from KPCA here this week, very keen to make sure their show is a success and the planning for the convention is already well advanced. We have some meetings with KPCA to finalize it, but we are just about one year away from the countdown. This will be ECWC14, the 14th Electronics Circuits World Convention—the first one was in London in 1978. I’m sure you can remember that far back!

Starkey: I was only a beginner in the industry then, Alun! Great to see you in Shanghai and many thanks for sharing your observations.

Morgan: A pleasure, Pete.


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