PCB | April 22, 2008
European PCB manufacturers need to specialize more
As more and more production is being moved to facilities in Asia, European PCB manufacturers need to broaden their portfolio and specialties in order to survive.
In Europe, many companies focus on survival and profitability, rather than growth and capacity increase. Aspocomp for instance specialises in mobile phones, while Schweizer focuses on automotive. However, the problem with specialisation is that it is not always a guarantee for survival or growth. Companies need to learn that in order to survive they may need to add further specialties and expertise to their portfolio. Additional to that many social differences between the regions and companies exist and have to be accounted for. European companies for instance have a lot more social conscience than North-American or Asian companies. European companies generally have more automation than North-American companies but not necessarily more than the larger Asian companies. North American companies have less employee turnover than European companies. Turnover in Asia is mixed. Japan seems to be very good with employees having some loyalty. China seems to have a problem with turnover, greatly increasing the Chinese learning curve, experts said during the ECWC 11 World Conference held in Shanghai, China. North American companies have always led in providing special function technology. Thick copper, high speed materials, mixed laminates, difficult build-ups and special surface finishes. This may be the niche that continues to keep the North American PCB industry alive. Increasingly these PCB suppliers are being asked for shorter cycle times.