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32 SMT007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2023 usually common across peers in the industry. Simply reacting to trends and changes is too passive for companies seeking to succeed and expand, though most of these external issues cannot be directly influenced by a single, aver- age company. Let's look at the material supply network. A manufacturer in the U.S. or Europe—encour- aged by government support for onshore manufacturing—is inspired by new automa- tion technologies. For them, this is a sustain- able business growth opportunity. But reality hits: e needed materials cannot be locally sourced. To access them, the materials must travel halfway around the world and likely from relatively unmanageable partners. Such risk oen kills the best of local manufacturing business plans. Giving up is not an option, so how can the manufacturing supply network be motivated to locate onshore? Historically, to reduce logistics costs and by utilizing "just in time" ( JIT), the supply net- work will follow the customer. eir invest- ment will only be viable once a critical mass of material consumption business is available that spreads their risk to an acceptable level. Local manufacturing, however, must bear the addi- tional costs and risk of remote material sourc- ing, so it's challenging for this to happen organ- ically. To expedite this process, trade associa- tions that represent both manufacturing and supply networks must work together. ey should encourage local manufacturers to share their broad business plans and intents. Such representation works best with aggregation to the regional and national levels, as trade asso- ciations can combine information in a way that protects the privacy and IP of individual com- panies; potential competitors will effectively be working together. Community is need not negatively impact the EMS business model, which competes based on business owners' material buying power. Localized manufacturing communities col- lectively drive the volume that reduces supply network relocation risk, whilst still allowing larger companies to negotiate individual, vol- ume-driven pricing. e key point is that these two elements are not mutually exclusive. Balancing differentiation vs. common goals is relevant to more than the upstream sup- ply network and other external conditions; a similar strategy should be followed internally and downstream. Let's take an example of a machine vendor looking at their potential cus- tomer base. To be successful, the vendor must create machines that meet common require- ments, while also supporting any significant residual needs required for different groups of customers, rather than customizing case by case. is allows the development and provi- sion of technologies that support the evolution of the industry. is is, by far, the most efficient and pre- ferred method of the automation market, other than where specialized, bespoke func- tional test or mechanical assembly stations are required. It is important that such flexibil- ity is easy for the customer to select, imple- ment, and support, such as the case of an SMT placement machine, where the selec- tion of different conveyor widths, number of stages and lanes, types of heads, feeders, cam- eras, nozzles etc., are available. e hardware automation market has evolved—and has proved itself in this respect—over hundreds of years. ough differentiated, most man- ufacturing operational needs, especially in electronics, have a very high degree of com- Giving up is not an option, so how can the manufacturing supply network be motivated to locate onshore?

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