A Changing Industry

An emerging theme from this week’s IPC APEX EXPO can be easily stated with one word: change. The world is changing. The economy is changing. Our industry is changing.

At his Tuesday morning keynote presentation, Ray Kurzweil, author, entrepreneur and futurist, set the tone, talking about the exponential rate of change the industry is experiencing. He challenged everyone to keep that in mind as they move forward, ever adapting and innovating.

During the IPC Technology Roadmap session, presenter Joe Fjelstad’s message echoed Kurzweil’s: Change is inevitable. “We’re all headed somewhere. It’s kind of nice to know where that is,” said Fjelstad, founder of Verdant Electronics and co-founder of SiliconPipe. The four-person panel—Jack Fisher, Dieter Bergman, Denny Fritz and Fjelstad—talked about how the 2008-2009 IPC Technology Roadmap looks beyond the horizon. It’s a “definition of needs” that allows electronics industry companies to anticipate new and evolving technologies.

Industry members, especially OEMs, can use the roadmap to find new approaches that will overcome today’s limits and meet future needs. Fjelstad mentioned several unique interconnect methods, specifically screen, offset and inkjet printing, as well as solderless and optical technologies, that are allowing the industry to “jump the interconnection gap.”

Just as technologies are changing, the environmental, health and safety issues IPC members face are changing, too. At the Environmental Laws and Regulations forum, moderated by Fern Abrams, director of government relations and environmental policy, IPC, the panel discussed new and emerging EHS issues. Mike Hutchings of Sun Microsystems explained how energy efficiency and total energy use will become more important (and will have more of an impact on IPC member companies) as energy regulations are implemented globally. IPC EHS committee vice chairman, Kelly White, of Jabil Circuit, discussed the growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility. And IPC EHS committee chair Lee Wilmot of TTM Technologies, illustrated the increasing impact of customer expectations on supply chain relationships.

As all facets of the industry change, the electronics manufacturing supply chain must, as Fjelstad said, “Open ourselves to ideas beyond what we’re doing presently.”


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