Collaboration could be key for PCB, EMS growth

As it become more difficult and more costly to push technology to new limits, more companies are finding ways to team up to share the risks. Some of the nation’s largest transportation companies, along with military representatives, say that collaboration is the only way to gain knowledge in new areas without spending a fortune.

R&D executives from Boeing, Caterpillar and automotive supply chain giant Magna International recently joined in a panel session on collaboration, agreeing that even their billion-dollar-plus R&D expenditures weren’t enough to keep them ahead in the race to meet consumer and shareholder demands. If they can’t do everything themselves, there’s a fair chance that fabricators and EMS providers could also benefit from linking up with universities or consortium.

By joining research teams at universities and other independent groups, these giants find they get far more bang for their buck. When their researchers join these teams, they learn more in shorter timeframes. Along with high costs and smaller budgets, they cited the need to incorporate new technologies like battery power and advanced electronics.

Much of the discussion was on pushing technology forward. But executives also said they’re collaborating with partners to improve their manufacturing processes.

A spokesman from the U.S. Army’s TARDEC lab said he’s currently looking to hand out millions to companies that can help improve energy independence. Solar and wind power are among the technologies TARDEC director Paul Skalny wants to explore.

Some of that military money could fall to EMS providers or fabricators, especially if they team up with system developers to bring completed designs to the table.

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