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34 PCB007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2021 Feature Article by Mark Goodwin VENTEC INTERNATIONAL GROUP International trade has taken quite a hit due to the global pandemic and it still faces some major uncertainties despite significant advanc- es through joint efforts to open up world trade again as soon as possible. Even before we wit- nessed the full impact of the COVID-19 virus, there were other challenging events to contend with: Brexit, ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China over tariffs and subsidies, ma- terial shortages caused by industrial accidents, and the constant threat of potential disagree- ments between countries over approaches to trade and development. e way we do business is constantly shaped by the never-ending stream of events, many of which are potentially disruptive. What is clear- er more than ever before is that we need to be aware of what is happening and do what we can to protect ourselves against possible threats. Ignoring events that are happening far away or just keeping everything close to home are not options for many electronics businesses. We work in a truly global industry. Taking the printed circuit fabrication business as just one example, some critical materials are produced in one or just a handful of locations world- wide. ere are strong economic and techni- cal reasons for this, and new local suppliers are extremely unlikely to spring up; keeping the supply chain domestic is simply not possi- ble for fabricators in most parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and much of Asia. Instead, our focus must be on ensuring the security and integrity of our supply chains, building in agility both to work around inter- national situations that may arise, and to han- dle customers' changing demands as efficient- ly and cost-effectively as possible. e key is to find out as much as we can about our cus- tomers' manufacturing plans, recognizing that some confidential information may not be readily shared. It can be less sensitive to use historical data to drive predictive models. Overall, the more we know the better we can balance supply against demand, prevent delays, and save avoidable logistical expens- Reinvigorate Your Manufacturing Infrastructure

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