From Shenzhen, China to Washington, D.C. – Denny McGuirk’s January Column

Visits to two distinctly different events — The HKPCA/IPC Exhibition and Conference, December 2–4 in Shenzhen, China and the IPC Technology Interchange Conference, December 9–10 in Washington, D.C. — helped end 2009 on a positive note.

IPC has partnered with the Hong Kong Printed Circuit Association (HKPCA) on a trade show and conference in Southern China for several years and looking back to 2008, all I can say is what a difference a year makes. Much like the rest of the world, the China economy — and the electronics industry — felt the effects of the global recession, and in 2008, so did the HKPCA/IPC trade show.

This past December, the mood at the Shenzhen event was decidedly upbeat. The exhibitors I talked to were certainly happy with the quality and quantity of leads. And the consensus from the experts who participated in the conference’s marketing track was that the Asian economy and the electronics industry would experience a “V-shaped” recovery.

FX strategist for global banking powerhouse HSBC Daniel Hui said Asia is quickly returning to pre-crisis levels with growth driven by domestic demand and investments. To bolster that assertion, Kitty Folk, vice president at IDC Asia/Pacific Ltd., said China will be the number one mobile phone market in 2012 and added that China is adding 18 million Internet users a year. And there was positive news to go around. Hui also predicted the United States would return to 3.6 percent growth next year.

The atmosphere at the Technology Interchange Conference in Washington, D.C. was also optimistic. The meeting featured the who’s who of the North American PCB industry, from fabricators to suppliers to military OEMs to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). Even industry veteran Ray Rasmussen, editor of pcb007.com, was surprised by the strong turnout and the dialogue between government and industry.

One of the key deliverables of the conference was presenting the hard work of the IPC Executive Agent Task Force — including a new technology roadmap — not only to the industry but also to key decision makers, within the DoD. Many of the domestic manufacturers were buoyed to hear Syd Pope, lead analyst for the DoD’s Office of Industrial Policy, recognize the vital role printed boards play in mission critical systems.

The Navy, specifically the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) – Crane Division, has been appointed the Executive Agent for Printed Circuit Board Technology. I was very interested in Technical Director at NSWC – Crane Duane Embree’s presentation on their initial programming for the Executive Agent. They have a lot of work to do — especially funding, but I speak for the task force when I say we certainly welcome the opportunity to work with NSWC – Crane on this important and critical program.

Two disparate events a world apart, yet they both represent the vitality and resilience of our industry and the important role it plays in the electronics industry. After months and months of grim economic reports, it was good to experience positive news for a change. Here’s hoping we continue this good news into 2010.

This column appears in the January 2010 IPC Review.

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