FLEX007

Flex-Apr2018

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APRIL 2018 I FLEX007 MAGAZINE 45 Shaughnessy: I've read that there are a lot of people who have kind of opted out. They're not even going to bother looking for another job. Talbot: Right. I think another problem we're going to see in 2018 is going to be a squeeze on price. I've already seen it, and I think com- petition is going to be fierce. Goldman: More and more people are getting into flex, that's for sure. Whether or not they're good at it remains to be seen. Talbot: We'll find out, right? Because the com- panies that have been out there for a long time doing this, if they're losing customers to the newcomers, and then they start seeing those customers come back, we'll know if they're good at it or not. It's not the easiest thing in the world to do. Goldman: Everybody can do a couple. Every- body could do a few prototypes. Talbot: Right, it's the production that's another story. Shaughnessy: How did you wind up doing this for a living? Talbot: I came from the developer side of the fence. I'm an electrical engineer by trade and I've developed hardware and software, and back in the day I was developing for UL and the FCC, so I've been on the other side of the fence. I know the problems, questions and challenges that people have when they say, "This is the board we want to build but our supplier can't build it this way," so we have to adjust it here and there and whatever. That's why we coined the phrase "design for applica- tion" as opposed to design for manufacturing. Shaughnessy: How about IoT? Does IoT figure into what you guys do? Talbot: We're starting to see more and more of it these days. Even in the manufacturing world, we're actually thinking about putting a system into our factory just to follow a product along. We've toyed with the idea of having a way for our customers to log in to our website and fol- low their product around so they don't have to call and get updates or they don't have to get the system updates. They can just log in at any time and see if they're on time, see if they're behind schedule, and so forth. It really just didn't work well because people wouldn't use it, because it was easier for them to just call or send an email than to log in and find their password, log in, check on their prod- uct, know exactly what order number they're talking about. We're toying with another idea that would actually fit into the IoT and send updates through an app to a cellphone. Customers could get regular updates, and they'd consistently know as the product moved to the next stage, how many days were left. At a glance they'd know how their product is going. We feel comfortable doing that because it's one of our key progress indicators and it's one of the things that we track regularly every year. I don't know if anybody else does it, but we publish our on-time delivery results and our RMA results every year. We feel comfortable putting in a system like that for our customers. Shaughnessy: As an EE, did you ever design flex yourself? Talbot: I didn't. When I was designing hard- ware and software it was all going on rigid cir- cuit boards at the time. I kind of stumbled into flex almost accidentally, and have been there now nearly 20 years. I've spent about half my career in the flex industry and half my career in the engineering world, on the other side of the fence. Shaughnessy: Well, we appreciate your insight here, John. Thanks so much for your time. Talbot: Thank you, Andy. FLEX007

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