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46 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MAY 2020 have taken our precautions to stay afloat, and being able to survive the economic slowdown, brought about by the pandemic, is currently the focus. Let's fast forward and imagine six months or a year down the road, when this pandemic is over, and a vaccine is found. What will the world look like then? We need to be ready for the future, not simply business as usual. We need to be ready for another crisis. It's when times are poor that we really find our strength, our core business, what we excel at, and what needs improvements. Unprecedented "pauses" like this also pro- vide an opportunity to look into what the in- dustry should be doing now to prepare for fu- ture challenges. There is a Chinese saying that states, "When the situation is poor, change in order to progress ." It is dur- ing the most critical moment of challenge that a change or innovation is brought about. That is how we progress and continue to advance and stay relevant. Production Lines Shifting Focus I came across an article recently about a pro- duction line producing respirators that was shut down due to the unavailability of raw ma- terial caused by travel bans and flight cancel- lations all over the world. However, innovative individuals decided to 3D print the parts local- ly and kept the production line running to sup- port the medical industry fighting the virus. Over the last few months, we have seen an increase in medical production, not only as a vital and life-saving production in the fight against COVID-19 but also in the innovation of new products. Medical production is naturally and thankfully prioritized by all industry part- ners, but sometimes, hard times force new and innovative products. To see good examples of how a crisis makes innovation arise, look at many of our manu- facturing partners or customers, shifting their production lines and turning it into a supply chain for what is needed, such as masks or oth- er protective equipment. Even if a crisis is hard to tackle, news like this shows the good in hu- mans and that the industry can work together collaboratively, side by side. Let's hope this is one of the good things we still will prioritize and bring along also when the crisis is over. Pre- and Post-COVID-19 Changes What are the changes we might see after the pandemic? Here are some of my thoughts. For the last decade, China has been the world's manufacturing base. Talking about printed circuits alone, China produces more than 50% of the world's printed circuits out- put. The heavy reliance on Chinese produc- tion will gradually change. Customers will start sourcing for manufacturers outside Chi- na, and Southeast Asian manufacturers will benefit from this gradual re-distribution of businesses. In February, when China was in lockdown, all factories were shut down. Many customers were waiting for orders, and a lot of questions and stressors appeared. When would the or- ders be received? Can the production be shift- ed to other manufacturing sites? When the pandemic reached Europe and the U.S., the whole world shut down. Demand reduced, as did the panic of not getting orders out of China. More Robots Than Humans At some point, we will see more robots run- ning in the factory than humans. The point here is not about where the pandemic center is; the concern is what if China was not able to contain the pandemic and the lockdown is in- definite? When the COVID-19 situation is over, we should expect people to start reviewing Unprecedented "pauses" like this also provide an opportunity to look into what the industry should be doing now to prepare for future challenges.

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