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MAY 2020 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 47 their supply chain and look for backup sourc- es. This will eventually trigger a re-distribution of supply bases, and China's dominance of the printed circuits supply chain may be chal- lenged sooner than we expect. Printed circuit manufacturing has been a la- bor-intensive industry for decades. In recent years, we have seen a slow but steady increase in the use of automation in the factories amid an increasing labor cost. Industry 4.0 has also brought about the implementation of a smart factory. We can expect that factories will has- ten the pace to convert and reinvent them- selves through the use of AI and algorithms to plan and schedule the production, as well as more sophisticated automation by using robots and unmanned transporters to further reduce the need of manpower. There may also be an increase in the use of automatic optical and visual inspection equipment to improve yield and early detection. As the factories advance, the requirements for operators will also change, as the facto- ries will require a higher education level of operators to control the systems running the factories, instead of operators physically car- rying out manual work. The demographics of recruitment requirements for printed circuits will start to shift. Risk Management and Procedures for Crisis Handling All of this will eventually help reduce the intervention of humans directly in the pro- duction, improving the factories' yield and predictability, and at the same time, reduc- ing the risk of the factories' operations being jeopardized by the impact of a pandemic. So- cial distancing or segregation of the workers can easily be implemented in the factories. Operators can remotely control the systems while not on-site. This allows the factory to continue operating during a crisis of such an extent. Business is expected to slow down during this period. Organizations should take the op- portunity to regroup, reorganize, set a new fo- cus, and implement new policies to help them get ready for a new business environment in the future. Most organizations had placed risk management and the work of the safety com- mittee at low priority during good times. After this crisis, organizations will take a more se- rious approach towards risk management and setting up procedures to handle different sce- narios of crisis. The point here is to always be prepared. Be- ing prepared allows us to handle exceptional situations when it occurs. Do You Have a Duo Source Set Up? Organizations should align their risk mitiga- tion strategies along with their business strat- egies, such as having a duo source for their supply chain, having an alternative source of supply in a different geographical region or country, or setting up modular manufactur- ing operations that can be operated from their own. The key focus is to be prepared for the unexpected. Having an operation ready to scale up or break up into cellular operations to continue business when others cannot makes the organization more resilient to handle ma- jor external challenges. Conclusion No one knows what the future will look like but being prepared has never been wrong; that is the case in these unprecedented times as well. PCB007 Raymond Goh is COO of Elmatica. To read past columns or contact The PCB Norsemen, click here. The point here is to always be prepared. Being prepared allows us to handle exceptional situations when it occurs.

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