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JANUARY 2022 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 23 countries. I expect this trend to grow rapidly in the next year. Domestic Marketing Cooperation is is one of the trends I am most excit- ed about. PCB companies, for example, are talking to each other, helping one another find ways to provide their customers with the right solutions. ey are cooperating when it comes to technology, capabilities, and com- modities, buying and selling hard-to-find lam- inates from one another. Some are even ex- ploring the possibilities of buying in bulk to get a better price. is is a strategy similar to what Ameri- can farmers once did in the old Grange sys- tem. is is going to be an interesting trend to watch play out and I hope it continues. Es- pecially since the zero sum, winner-take-all mentality we have seen in our industry for the last 50 years contributed greatly to our near demise. Increase in Capital Expenditures We are starting to see an increase in technol- ogy spending where more companies are buy- ing direct imaging equipment as well as au- tomatic screening machines, thus becoming much more efficient when it comes to technol- ogy and process. is is a good sign. Compa- nies are investing in themselves. Another encouraging sign is that we are building fabrication centers of the future. From New Hampshire to Utah, new and efficient "factories of the future" are coming on. e one in New Hampshire has been up and run- ning for over two years and the one in Utah will be running in early 2022. is is a trend worth investigating and, most importantly, worth im- plementing. Keep your eye on that trend. Customer Partnerships Smar t and for ward-think ing PCB and PCBA companies are working closely with their customers, especially those custom- ers building products of the future who need PCBs of the future. ese entities are making sure that the board suppliers can keep up with the customers' PCB demands. In many cases, they are sharing not only R&D, but money as well. e larger customers are investing their own money into their vendors to make sure that they can keep up with their technology demands. It's certainly refreshing to see our customers respecting the fabricators and their technolo- gy enough to be willing to support them. Probably the most important aspect of this trend is that customers are smart enough to understand that they must do what they can to support their domestic PCB and PCBA suppliers enough that they stay healthy, not only in terms of technology, but in terms of their financial health. is is a complete turn- around from what it has been since PCB time began. It is worth saying once again: It is a shame to waste a good crisis, and the smart companies in our industry are doing all that they can to take full advantage of this one. SMT007 Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group and an I-Connect007 columnist. To contact Beaulieu, or read past columns, click here. It's certainly refreshing to see our customers respecting the fabricators and their technology enough to be willing to support them.

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