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MAY 2019 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 35 to eliminate the cost there because the Dk and Df of the ground power plane doesn't matter. These are techniques that some OEMs are le- veraging, but others aren't. That's something Panasonic always talks about when we manu- facture a new material. We want to make sure that we have an alternative in the high-speed digital place for customers when they don't need low loss. Johnson: That seems pretty thoughtful. Senese: It is helpful. It is one way of eliminat- ing the cost without just talking about price. This is turning into a list of 100 things you have to do to make a material successful. One more thing is that the material has to be compatible with a lower cost material in the stackup so that you can save money where it electrically works. Johnson: With all of these megatrends going on in applications as well as changes in the business model over time, it seems you're put- ting forth that some very accurate, realistic forecasting needs to happen so that the right kinds of materials can be manufactured in time. What do we change about the forecast- ing model? Senese: If I had the answer to that, I would be the president of Panasonic, but I don't, and I'm not (laughs). We do things differently than we did 10 years ago because people realize that when you talk to material suppliers, you can't just put a gun to their heads and say, "You will do it." All of the design community needs to be aware, and they're becoming more aware because of pains they've gone through, that when they make changes to base materials, there's an impact on the business model. That has to be factored in. Anybody that's a project manager of any sort understands that you have to give things realistic dates, and you have to scale them. The first thing that we do when we start talk- ing to an OEM about a project is ask a lot of questions about timing. Often, that means in- volving a different person or a group early on. The most aggressive OEMs put those people in front of the supply chain early enough that they can get what they need when they need it, asking those questions ahead of time before there's a problem. After the tsunami in Japan in 2011, glass manufacturers in the area had to shut down a couple of their low Dk glass furnaces. That didn't cause much of a problem for Panason- ic's business, but it had a significant impact on one of our competitors. That was an issue of single-sourcing that customers remember. We always have a backup if something happens to one product someplace else. That's something OEMs need to think about when they start talk- ing about material supply. Quality is very good almost everywhere. But instant, high-volume availability with new, raw materials, is not. Thus, OEMs must that take that into consider- ation when they start scaling up projects. They have to have a contingency plan. The supply chain needs to have a greater awareness of these raw materials in as well as a backup plan. If you pick the wrong supplier, they may not be physically capable of having a backup plan. Even if they can get the raw ma- terial, you may not get the material if there's a problem. This is something that's new for OEMs because they're used to buying things that are commodities. Even in the electronics business, with the exception of the specialty low-volume chips, the things they buy from large suppliers have millions and millions of units on the shelf at all times.

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