Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
A message from Paul Waldner, EIPC Chairman
A message from Paul Waldner, EIPC Chairman
Electronics, made in Europe
Keywords: EIPC, Electronics engineering, Europe
The electronics industry in Europe is one which is very wide, very deep and dispersed over many nations and industries. If we mention electronics as an industry, in a certain way it is not at all an industry – it is an industrial enabler. The automobile industry is an industry. The medical equipment industry is an industry. Aeronautics is an industry. Electronics just makes them all better and more profitable. How can we bring attention to the concept of electronics, made in Europe?
The EPC-2004 Convention will take place in October, in Cologne (Köln). This Convention is the combination of an Exhibition and a Conference of interest to printed circuit board professionals, be they designers, fabricators, suppliers to fabricators, EMS companies or OEM companies.
The printed circuit and its design are the things that all of the electronics industry has in common. No matter what the end product, there is a purpose-built printed circuit board. You may buy semiconductors, passive components, cables, connectors and housings off the shelf from a catalogue, but to get to market with an electronically enabled product you will have to design, build and assemble a printed circuit board. In spite of the universal nature of the PCB to the electronics industry, the communications and relationships between the OEM and the PCB fabricator have been slowly disintegrating. The PCB fabricator becomes viewed more-and-more as a commodity provider, and the OEM turns his attention to the EMS company as his valued supplier.
We, in the PCB industry, think that this displacement of the fabricator in the supply chain by the EMS company is inevitable to a certain degree. This is because of the OEM's desire to control liability in his supply chain and his need to get to a lower production cost to protect his profits. On the other hand, we do not feel that our product is a commodity, and we do see the value of communication between the OEM's designer and the ultimate manufacturer of the bare printed circuit board.
The EPC-2004 Convention sees a need to bring a larger audience from the industry to the event. The suppliers who exhibit are hurt by an ever shrinking industry of PCB fabricators. The PCB fabricators that remain, because of their shrinking margins, find it harder to commit their employees as visitors to such a pan-European event. We wish to provide the PCB fabricators with a more interesting venue to which they can send their people.
One idea which we implemented was to try to get three or four major EMS companies to come to the event, take stands which would be provided at very little cost and exhibit the kind of products that they [still] produce in Europe. The thinking was that we would be providing an interesting focal point for the visitors to the exhibition; that we would be providing a service to the visitors and the exhibitors alike and that the EMS companies would have an opportunity to be "good citizens" of the European electronics "industry" by being informative about what capabilities they had and which capabilities they might still be seeking.
Not surprisingly, the response from most of the larger EMS companies was, "What's in it for us?" Was this going to be a marketing opportunity or a Supply Chain Management opportunity? If the latter, then the answer came back loud and clear, "It is not in the interest of the EMS companies to take a stand at an exposition and be canvassed by fabricators." My personal feeling is that this view is short-sighted and not in the long-term interest of the EMS companies interviewed, but, hey, who has time to look at the long-term interests of anything anymore?
Now I am considering a further expansion of the idea of providing EMS companies with low cost stands to the following concept: Electronics, Made in Europe shall become the sub-title for our EPC event for 2004 (and the future, if the idea proves to be successful).
We will work with trade magazines, national trade associations, other media outlets and trade fair organizers;
We will provide a venue for European manufacturers of electronics to display their products which they manufacture (either by themselves or through EMS companies); and
We will create a pathway among our stands at which table-top exhibits show products both with and without housings.
Our hope is to create an event where the entire Supply Chain is present not only for the benefit of the European PCB industry, but also to the benefit of the entire supply chain. Communication and interaction is the goal. If we provide it, then the entire event will be a success. The advantages we offer:
We have a large space ready to be used;
We will be working together with the people who have the best connections to the world of European OEMs.
The result will be positive.
For further information, contact: Paul R. Waldner, Chairman, EIPC, Managing Director, mie, GmbH, Industriestr. 10, D-61381 Friedrichsdorf, Germany; Tel: +49-(0)6172-760- 711; Mobile: +49-(0)172-934-7401; Fax: +49- (0)6172-760-750; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.mie.de