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16 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2023 ple, plant, and equipment decisions depending on perceived economic direction and their confidence in what customers are telling them. It is a delicate balance under any circum- stances. Why Would You Want To Do This? ere are clearly significant challenges for any EMS company today. At the same time, the penetration and breadth of electronics in our lives visibly grows every day. As the demand for electronics grows, the demand for EMS capabilities must grow with it. EMS compa- nies do this because demand is and will con- tinue to be high. ey also do it because well-managed EMS companies can absolutely build and sustain profitable businesses. An EMS company that manages its material liabilities appropriately, builds strong customer relationships, and invests in the right people and equipment can do it successfully from any part of the world. ey also have the opportunity to be a part of many new and innovative products and pro- cesses. It can be both challenging and reward- ing for all involved. Perhaps the question should be: Why not? SMT007 References 1. The Current Sentiment of the Global Electronics Manufacturing Supply Chain: Executive Summary, January 2023, Mark Wolfe is principal at Wolfe Consulting, an EMS advisor for IPC, and former IPC EMS Executive Council chairman and IPC board member. Article by Bill Cardoso As we wrap up another successful IPC APEX EXPO in San Diego, for me the two major themes of the conversations in the aisles were: what's ahead for the industry in 2023 and how artificial intelli- gence is slowly becoming ubiquitous in electronic manufacturing. After a slow start to tradeshows in 2022, it was great to ramp up participation to levels close to normal, or perhaps a "new" normal. We kicked off 2023 with our industry carrying over big backlogs from 2022, where we added 35,000 jobs and saw incredible growth. We're unlikely to add another 35,000 jobs in 2023, as we're expected to see negative growth in the U.S. economy in the beginning of the year, though there may be some growth in the second semester. Hopefully, we will creep into positive territory by early 2024. Some of the major challenges of 2022 have been ameliorated: material and shipping prices have come down, matching improvements in com- ponent availability. However, these improvements came at the price of higher inflation, which inevitably applies downward pressure on demand for con- sumer products. As we start 2023 with a healthy backlog, the question in everyone's mind is whether the stack of orders in the books will materi- alize. When lead times are long like they were in 2021 and 2022, customers tend to push purchase orders in the expectation that a solid demand will material- ize. As inflation increases, demand softens, increas- ing the risk of orders being cancelled or pushed forward. To read the rest of this article, which appeared in the Real Time with… IPC APEX EXPO 2023 Show & Tell Magazine, click here. AI and Cautious Optimism

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