Nolan’s Notes: Supply ‘Pain’ Management

We’re all feeling the discomfort, aren’t we? Things are getting squeezed and stretched. While the correct amount of that “something” is hard to put your finger on, there’s stress in the PCB manufacturing and assembly process.

It reminds me of coming home from the hospital with my first born. He was 28 days early, and naturally, his early arrival threw off all our birth preparations. For example, we attended the last session of our Lamaze class with a newborn in a baby carrier. Never have I seen sharper, dagger-eyed stares than from that class full of moms-to-be.
There were other disruptions, of course. The grueling labor process took the better part of three days. And because our son came a month early, we had to adapt, and quickly. We weren’t fully stocked up on baby items, so we sent his prospective grandmas to the store with a list and a credit card to fill in the gaps. That takes some trust, doesn’t it? At times, they had to get creative.

Once home, our newborn needed some special care. While he didn’t need intensive care in the hospital, understandably he showed symptoms of a slow start-up to his digestive system. You can imagine the learning curve as we cared for our precious son.

This affected my work, too. I had been timing most of my projects to conclude just before the due date. Rookie mistake. These projects were in the critical wrap-up phase when our son arrived. But with this new priority, those projects were rescheduled and given new deadlines.

Of course, it affected the baby’s mother immensely: physically, emotionally, and even socially. Making these quick adaptations were stressors for all of us. The changes ran from our highest-level family strategies (investments, features in our home, even careers) to the most tactical (whose turn was it to change his diaper?).

One of the techniques we used to aid her recovery from labor was acupuncture. Though a bit mysterious as to how/why it works, even some “acupuncture agnostics” use it as a treatment method for pain management. It certainly helped the mother of my children through her postpartum. Still, how is it that a point-solution soothes the body elsewhere? How is it that a new bit of pressure here can ease a pain point over there? Based on a desire to get some relief from pain, many folks seem satisfied to just trust the mystery.

SMT-Aug2022-Cover250.jpgThis was the thought behind our cover image: Putting the squeeze in one area of the supply chain should, in theory, bring relief in another. Finding relief for business pain points can be a mix of strategic and tactical responses. For this issue, we examined a variety of steps being taken in the industry, from the halls of government to the manufacturing floor; all meant to ease EMS pain points.

As our team discussed the best way to illustrate the theme of this issue, the acupuncture image hit every point we wanted to make. To ease a wider, more general pain point elsewhere, a series of focused, short-term “micro-pains” can be employed to bring relief.

On the manufacturing floor, for example, one of the key pain points is component availability. As you will learn from the interviews and articles in this issue, there are methods for adjusting. Each method brings a small bit of pain in the form of process changes, learning new software tools, or validating new suppliers. Each step is a leap of faith, a decision to trust that the outcome will be better than the current situation.

To aid in the conversation, IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac shares vital information on the state of the economy and your business in relation to it, while USPAE executive director Christopher Peters offers help to “thrive” in electronics manufacturing. And as I mentioned earlier, the discussions on Capitol Hill are crucial to our microelectronics industry. Thus, this issue includes an interview with Travis Kelly, president of PCBAA, and U.S. Rep. Blake Moore, R-Utah, who is co-sponsoring HR 7677, the Supporting American Printed Circuit Boards (SAPCB) Act of 2022. If you’re in this industry and not already following this proposed legislation, now is the perfect time to get caught up.

On a strategic/tactical level, we have a distributor’s perspective from the counterfeiting team at Digi-Key, insight on new sourcing software tools from CalcuQuote, and a no-holds-barred argument for the urgency of cybersecurity from Divyash Patel, owner of MX2 Technology.

I want to make special mention of the column by Dr. Jennie Hwang, who reports on her trip to the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder’s meeting. What she learned makes for a useful mind-setting exercise for industry pain management.

Ultimately, our industry pain, just like the labor pains that brought forth my first child, is more than simple physical pain. We’re working through huge changes to our environment and our place within it, which can be emotionally painful as well. Sometimes, as our cover image reminds us, our willingness to embrace change is a critical part of the supply “pain” management idea.

We’re always open to your suggestions for topics. Many of these topics have come from conversations with our readers. We encourage you to reach out with your ideas, news, and questions.

This column originally appears in the August 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

Back

2022

Nolan’s Notes: Supply ‘Pain’ Management

08-02-2022

We’re all feeling the discomfort, aren’t we? Things are getting squeezed and stretched. While the correct amount of that “something” is hard to put your finger on, there’s stress in the PCB manufacturing and assembly process. It reminds me of coming home from the hospital with my first born. He was 28 days early, and naturally, his early arrival threw off all our birth preparations. For example, we attended the last session of our Lamaze class with a newborn in a baby carrier. Never have I seen sharper, dagger-eyed stares than from that class full of moms-to-be.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: The Shifting Supply Chain—An Argument for Investment

07-19-2022

The gears of the economy worked like clockwork for quite a long time, at least in North America, Europe, and Asia. Overall, that smooth operation is no longer the case, for several reasons. It’s as if the watchmaker has upended the clockworks onto the worktable and is rearranging the mechanism to work differently—to tell a different time, if you will. In the overall economy, there are bearish signs (9.1% inflation year-over-year in the U.S. in mid-July). But in electronics manufacturing, the market looks quite bullish on the demand side. This month’s cover reflects that dynamic—a bullish industry within what seems to be an emerging bearish economy.

View Story

Nolan's Notes: Data Security—It’s Incumbent Upon You

07-05-2022

In May 2022, the news broke in Portland, Oregon that the city government had suffered a “cybersecurity breach” and lost $1.4 million in city funds. As reported by numerous news sources, a city-issued press release stated that “preliminary evidence indicates that an unauthorized, outside entity gained access to a City of Portland email account to conduct illegal activity.” Incidents like these are more common than we realize, and must be addressed in our industry as well.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: What’s the Point of Collaborating?

06-01-2022

When we first started planning this issue, we used the word “partnership” in our working title. Partnership certainly is one way to collaborate. Creating close working relationships with manufacturing specialists who can extend your capabilities for your customers is one obvious way to collaborate. But there are others, for example, collaboration can also look like proactive communication with customers as well as vendors.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: Where Are the Golden Eggs?

05-17-2022

We all went through the simultaneous transitions in our industry in the last three years. To be clear, I’m referring to supply chain issues due to the pandemic, manufacturing channel resiliency, parts shortages, people shortages, governmental investment in infrastructure, and above all, a huge demand for manufacturing capacity. All that demand, all those hurdles, and the all the constraints can leave one a little dizzy. The reality is that we’ll feel both short- and long-term impacts from these trends.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: Changing Expectations

05-05-2022

For our May 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine, we wanted to learn more about the challenges for high-mix, low-volume EMS firms building high density boards, and how they’re coping with those challenges. What we learned was that the high-density challenges, per se, were actually few and far between. What has been causing new headaches, however, is component packaging because of the unpredictability in the supply chain.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: What Are We Waiting For?

04-18-2022

The future, ladies and gentlemen, is now. The Factory of the Future is a reality in some parts of the globe. So, if you and your facility aren’t already migrating to Industry 4.0, you’re at risk of being left behind. That’s the message in our detailed interview with IPC Chief Technologist Matt Kelly, who follows up on his IPC APEX EXPO comments. Make your plan and implement it. Do what you need to do; it does not require buying all new equipment. There are other ways to get the data you need. But start to capture the data and then use it to optimize your business practices. What are you waiting for?

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: The Legislative Chokepoint

03-30-2022

This month our topic for SMT007 Magazine is: The State of the Industry. There's no getting around having to send chips overseas for packaging. But how many trips around the globe does a chip need to make before it’s ready? And can our defense suppliers rely on such supply chain methods?

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: Materials & Technology

03-15-2022

Now more than ever, material performance, availability and pricing are key factors in the specification of materials in the design phase. This month we explore how new technology is driving materials R&D which in turn drives technology to innovate.

View Story

Nolan’s Notes: Feeling the Heat of Rising Input Costs

02-01-2022

Rising input costs are causing EMS companies to rethink pricing, suppliers and supply chains, labor, and how all those interrelationships function. In this issue we report on the current status of increased input costs and explore strategies to help reduce the risk and cost associated with today's marketplace.

View Story
Copyright © 2022 I-Connect007. All rights reserved.