New IPC Studies Show World PCB Market Up in 2016 as North American Market Shrinkage Slows

World printed circuit board (PCB) production reached an estimated $58.2 billion in 2016, up 2.2 percent in real terms, while North American PCB production decreased a mere 0.1 percent, according to IPC’s newly published World PCB Production Report for the Year 2016. The North American PCB market also continued its downward trend, but at a slowing rate of just -1.7 percent in 2016, based on data published this week in IPC’s 2017 Annual Report on the North American PCB Industry.

The World PCB Production Report shows that more than half the world’s PCBs based on value are now produced in China, but Taiwanese companies are the leading PCB producers, fabricating most of their PCBs off-shore. India emerged as having the fastest-growing PCB industry in Asia and has joined the top 10 PCB-producing countries in the world as of 2016.

The world report highlighted an abrupt change in the growth trends for rigid PCBs and flexible circuits. Rigid PCB production, which has slowed in recent years, was up slightly in 2016, while the previously growing flex segment decreased. The world PCB market overall is expected to continue experiencing modest growth in 2017.

Developed by a team of the world’s leading PCB industry analysts, the World PCB Production Report is the definitive source of PCB production data. It includes estimates of the value of PCB production in eight product categories in each of the world’s major PCB-producing countries and regions.The report also contains commentary on regional industry trends and historical data on PCB production worldwide, as well as a special report on high-speed data communications contributed by BPA Consulting, Ltd.

The 2017 Annual Report on the North American PCB Industry shows that the military and aerospace market continues to consume more than one-third of PCBs sold and this vertical market continues to grow as a percentage of total PCB sales in the region.

The North American report covers the size and growth of the region’s PCB market by product type, the use of special technologies such as RF and embedded components, and other business metrics including revenue per employee, capacity utilization, inventory turns and lead times for rigid PCB and flexible circuit businesses. It is based on data collected in IPC’s North American PCB Statistical Program, in which the sample of survey participants represent more than 50 percent of the region’s PCB market.

World PCB Production Report for the Year 2016, priced at $475 for IPC members and $950 for nonmembers,and the 2017 Annual Report on the North American PCB Industry, at $450 for IPC members and $900 for nonmembers, are available for immediate download in IPC’s online store. For information on IPC market research reports and services, visit www.ipc.org/market-research-reports and www.ipc.org/IndustryData, or contact IPC’s market research team at marketresearch@ipc.org.

EPA Schedules Webinars on LCSA Inventory Notification Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has scheduled three webinars to assist the regulated community with reporting under the TSCA Inventory Notification (Active-Inactive) Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2017. This rule requires industry to report chemicals manufactured or imported in the United States over the past 10 years.

Reporting is mandatory for chemical manufacturers and optional for processors. Processors should be aware that following the update of the inventory, it will be illegal to use chemicals not reported to the EPA as active. Chemical users should review EPA’s definition of processor as some chemical uses in manufacturing meet the EPA definition of processing.

Each identical webinar will include an overview of reporting requirements, a demo of the electronic reporting application (Central Data Exchange (CDX), and will provide time for questions and answers.

The webinars are scheduled for 1-3 PM EDT on September 27, 2017, October 25, 2017, and November 29, 2017. Registration for a webinar is not required.

Please visit EPA’s TSCA Inventory web page at https://www.epa.gov/tsca-inventory for information on how to access a webinar.

CPSC Votes to Ban Organohalogen Flame Retardants in Electronics Casings

Today, on September 20, 2017, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) voted, along party lines, to grant petition CPSC-2015-0022; Petition Requesting Rulemaking on Products Containing Organohalogen Flame Retardants (OFRs). The petition, which was filed by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), asks the CPSC to ban the use of organo-halogen flame retardants in several products, including the (outer) plastic casings of electronics.

The commission also voted, again along party lines, to convene a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) on OFRs. CPSC staff will be tasked with moving forward on the rulemaking process to ban OFRs from electronic casings (as well as toys, upholstered furniture, and mattresses). The CHAP will provide additional insight and fill in data gaps to support the rulemaking process.

The commission also voted, along party lines, to publish in the federal register, a notice to alert the public on environmental risks of OFRs and guidance to industry to refrain from adding OFRs in products.

Although the petition and other CPSC actions today do not address the use of flame retardants in electronics components, it is likely that this broad and unprecedented action against the entire class of OFRs will enhance deselection pressures throughout the supply chain.

The vote today follows a September 14 CPSC hearing which included testimony from the electronics industry. View blog item: CPSC Hearing Reviews Petition to Ban Organohalogen Flame Retardants in Electronics Casings.

IPC will continue to follow this issue to inform our members and advocate for their concerns.

EU Commission Launches Stakeholder Consultation on RoHS Exemptions

Today, on September 19, 2017, the European Union (EU) Commission launched a four-week stakeholder consultation on DRAFT Delegated Directives for exemptions:

• 6(a) Lead as an alloying element in steel for machining purposes and in galvanized steel containing up to 0.35% lead by weight
• 6(b) Lead as an alloying element in aluminum containing up to 0.4% lead by weight
• 6(c) Copper alloy containing up to 4% lead by weight
• 7(a) Lead in high melting temperature type solders (i.e. lead-based alloys containing 85% by weight or more lead)
• 7(c)-I Electrical and electronic components containing lead in a glass or ceramic other than dielectric ceramic in capacitors, e.g. piezoelectronic devices, or in a glass or ceramic matrix compound
• 18(b) Lead as activator in the fluorescent power of discharge lamps containing phosphors
• 24 Lead in solders for the soldering to machined through hole discoidal and planar array ceramic multilayer capacitors
• 34 Lead in cermet-based trimmer potentiometer elements

The consultation closes on October 17, 2017.

IPC, in conjunction with an international industry stakeholder group, applied for more than a dozen exemption extension requests under the EU RoHS Directive. The RoHS2 Directive dictates expiration dates for all exemptions granted and several critical to the electronics manufacturing industry were set to expire by July 21, 2016. However, all exemptions for which industry submitted a renewal application will not expire until the EU Commission completes the current ongoing review of the applications.

Throughout the process, IPC and several member companies provided important technical information in order to ensure the extension requests are robust and scientifically sound. IPC reviewed all extension requests and provided important feedback that resulted in credible material submitted to the EU Commission.

IPC’s EHS Committee and RoHS Exemptions Task Force will review the draft delegated acts and develop a response to the stakeholder consultation. IPC member companies are also encouraged to comment directly to EU Commission through their website.

 

CPSC Hearing Reviews Petition to Ban Organohalogen Flame Retardants in Electronics Casings

On Thursday, September 14, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) held a hearing on petition CPSC-2015-0022; Petition Requesting Rulemaking on Products Containing Organohalogen Flame Retardants. The petition was filed by a group of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) asking the CPSC to ban the use of organohalogen flame retardants in several products, including the (outer) plastic casings of electronics. The petition does not address the use of flame retardants in electronics components.

Rick Goss, Senior Vice President of Environment and Sustainability at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) testified at the hearing on behalf of IPC, ITI, and the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). The hearing can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ovSTKppR15U, with the presentation of the joint testimony beginning at 2:12.

In joint testimony, the associations requested that the commission follow staff recommendations and deny the petition because it is overly broad and insufficiently justified in its claims, fails to provide the data showing a connection between the exposure to a substance and personal injury or harm from that exposure.

During the hearing, the commissioners posed a number of questions to industry. IPC, CTA and ITA will be working with their members to respond promptly, in advance of the meeting scheduled for September 20.

Skills, Digitalization and Investment at the Heart of the New EU Industrial Strategy

The European Commission today presented its renewed EU Industrial Policy Strategy, which is focused on technological skills, digitalization, and investment in innovation. As announced last week by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union address, the strategy would be used to make European industry “stronger and more competitive … particularly for our manufacturing base and the 32 million workers that form its backbone.”

IPC has long advocated for an ambitious industrial agenda for Europe and welcomes the EU efforts to boost growth and jobs through investment in advanced manufacturing, workforce skills, research and innovation. We are encouraged that the Commission reaffirmed its commitment to reaching the target of 20% of GDP from industry, with an ambitious and realistic timeline.

The strategy puts a strong emphasis on a skilled and talented workforce, which is a priority for IPC. Recruiting the necessary talent is a fundamental concern for the advanced manufacturing industry in Europe, which consists of more than 700,000 enterprises and employs more than 13 million people.

The Commission also recognizes that the future of the industry will be digital. Driving the industrial and digital transformation requires an improved framework and conditions for investment.

Finally, the objectives of the industrial strategy should be incorporated into other relevant policies, including the EU’s low-carbon and circular economy initiatives.

We stand ready to work with the European Commission and other stakeholders to address the short and long-term challenges and turn this vision into concrete actions to strengthen the competitiveness of the EU electronic industry.

IPC Disappointed by Failure of TSCA Negotiated Rulemaking

Yesterday, after five months of work, the federal advisory committee created to negotiate a rule that would limit the reporting requirements for byproducts sent for recycling decided to end our work because consensus could not be reached.

IPC was represented by myself and Bret Bruhn, environmental engineer, TTM Technologies and Chair of the IPC Environmental, Health and Safety Committee. We very much appreciated EPA’s thoughtful participation and contributions to the process, and were disappointed that the committee was unable to reach a consensus that would have encouraged recycling. IPC and other industry representatives participated in good faith, offering several meaningful proposals that would have allowed EPA to meet its obligations under TSCA.

The federal advisory committee was formed to implement a requirement in the 2016 Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act (LCSA) that EPA conduct a negotiated rulemaking on limiting reporting requirements for inorganic byproducts sent for recycling. We strongly supported the goal of the negotiated rulemaking, having worked for years to limit requirements that discourage the recycling of inorganic byproducts by requiring duplicative reporting under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

We believe that EPA continues to have an obligation under the LCSA to initiate a rulemaking to encourage recycling of byproducts. We will be meeting next week with Congress regarding the LCSA requirements as well as exploring other avenues to encourage EPA to follow through on this important obligation.

Huizenga Amendment on Conflict Minerals Approved by the U.S. House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives today adopted an amendment by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI) that would prohibit the use of funds for any action on rules issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) related to conflict minerals.

The amendment was attached to the omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal 2018 that is currently making its way through the legislative process. The overall bill was then passed by the House and forwarded to the Senate for consideration.

Although IPC members are deeply concerned by the human rights abuses that are occurring in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the conflict minerals requirements of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law have had questionable success in addressing the situation, while imposing significant costs on industry and consumers. We believe that requirements for U.S. companies to report on the source of conflict minerals in their supply chains is a red herring that fails to address the underlying problems of failed government and lack of security in the DRC.

IPC continues to highlight the burden of conflict minerals compliance, most recently in meetings with members of the House and Senate during the IPC IMPACT advocacy event in Washington, D.C. in May.

Wage and Salary Survey Deadline for North American Electronics Assembly Industry Extended to September 29

By Sharon Starr, market research director

IPC’s biennial Wage Rate and Salary Survey for the North American Electronics Assembly Industry is open and the deadline has been extended until September 29. The 2017 study covers 40 hourly and salaried positions in electronics assembly companies North America, including OEMs and contract manufacturers. It is intended for executive management and HR professionals who can provide data on a range of positions and policies.

Survey participants will receive the report on the findings at no charge. This study is unique among wage and salary studies in that it specifically addresses the needs of companies in the North American electronics assembly industry. The report will contain wage rate and salary data on 25 hourly, 11 salaried and four sales positions, as well as insight into current industry norms in employee benefits and policies.

The data will be analyzed by industry segment, company size and region, enabling companies to assess their competitive position as employers within their region and company-size tier. The report will also serve as a resource to help companies update their human resource management strategies.

The 2017 survey can be accessed at IPCWageSurvey2017. Participants are asked for their IPC company code to start the survey. They can obtain their company codes by contacting IPC’s market research team at marketresearch@ipc.org or calling +1 847-597-2868. The company code is used to protect the confidentiality of participants’ data. IPC publishes only aggregate numbers and maintains strict confidentiality.

For additional information on IPC’s market research services, visit www.ipc.org/industrydata or www.ipc.org/market-research-reports.

IPC Supports Apprenticeships and Jobs

By Julie Desisto, government relations coordinator

Given the perennial shortage of skilled talent in many parts of the country, IPC advocates for ambitious public policies to address the skills gap.

That’s why IPC supports the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act (S. 1352), introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA). In late July, IPC President and CEO John Mitchell and Vice President of Government Relations John Hasselmann met with Senator Cantwell in Washington, D.C. to express our support. And in the months to come, we will be working to encourage additional senators to co-sponsor the act.

The Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Act would create a $5,000 tax credit for up to three years for companies that hire and pay employees enrolled in a federal- or state-registered apprentice program, as well as allow senior employees near retirement to draw from pensions early if they’re involved in mentoring or training new employees. Additionally, the Act will help veterans get into skilled jobs that match their military experience sooner by allowing credit in apprenticeship requirements from previous military training.

As a standards, training, and certification leader, some of IPCs’ top priorities are to promote workforce development initiatives, educate and train workers to fill manufacturing jobs, and be innovative in finding ways to close the skills gap. The lack of skilled workers directly affects our membership. This is why IPC supports this legislation on behalf of our membership. This legislation is designed to enhance America’s ability to train and educate potential workers through registered apprenticeships.

IPC will continue to monitor and promote all legislation that supports our membership and urges its members to reach out to their local members of Congress to express their support of this legislation.

View the Bill in its full form.