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OCTOBER 2021 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 17 had to imagine at the point like, what can we really remove? How can we make this space a little bit more organized and use the e levated space to allow us to have a little bit more room to really fit all this equipment? e good thing is that some of this equipment removes two or three older pieces of equip- ment. We could get two pieces out and put two pieces in and it works out. It's definitely a balancing act. It took a lot more work from the maintenance side to really make sure it all works out. Matties: With all this work coming back to North America, do you think it's here to stick? Or do you think this is a flash in the pan, so to speak? Patel: It's hard to say if it will all stay, but to me, it seems that, at least partially, it's here to stay; maybe not fully, but some people will stick to North America. Matties: ey just find it easier to deal with this time zone, and its culture and language. Is that the case? Patel: Exactly. I feel like what's going to happen is they're still going to buy maybe 95% offshore and then keep 5% to have that local source, just in case something happens like this again. If the pricing doesn't normalize next year, if it remains in this area, I don't think there's any incentive to move back. It all depends on how the market stabilizes. Shaughnessy: You talked about how this was led by customers and sales, so it's not really a formula or a cutoff or anything where you real- ize, "Oh, now it's time." You are just constantly keeping track of it. Patel: Exactly. Since 2018, we've been looking at these pieces of equipment and we had this window of opportunity where the pandemic had a positive aspect in that sense. Johnson: is has paid off for you. Are you looking at maintaining the momentum? Patel: For sure. at's the whole idea. We want to keep innovating, trying to bring our costs down, and attract new customers. Matties: What areas were you looking at for your next investment? Patel: We're looking at a green pico laser driller/router. at will save us a lot of head- ache and time for our blind via processing, cover flex stuff, and any fine routing that we have to do. e great thing about a green pico laser is it evaporates rather than burns. at would be an exciting piece. Matties: Is flex one of the growth areas for you? Patel: Yes. We're seeing a lot of flex coming our way, as well as some really tight routing, blind via technology, and etch resist printing. We're still researching to see if it's viable, but it seems like a game changer to us, and we'll see how it goes. Matties: How much input did you get from your frontline operators, the people actually running the equipment, to find out what could be improved? Patel: I'm always on the shop floor. I can see where they're having trouble, and then, daily, I try to always get their ideas and see what they're having trouble with. It's a constant con- versation, even with the new equipment. e more you know what's happening inside, the better, I would say. Matties: When you brought in your induction press, did you eliminate the old press, or did you just add this capacity? Patel: Well, it's still there, but we just got the press a couple of weeks ago. I think we don't

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