Although it has been talked about for years, the time for collaboration is here, for our industry and for all of the world’s industries. Smart people are realizing that we are going to have to tear down those silos and start working with each other if we are going to survive, and more importantly, go on to do great things together. We are finally going to have to partner in the true sense of the word.
Strictly speaking, a partnership is two or more entities working together to do things much bigger and greater and more important than they could possibly have done individually.
Some examples: Right now in Albany, New York, smart people from all over the world are working together to develop the most advanced silicon chips in the world. Silicon experts, manufacturing experts and University at Albany-SUNY are all working together to do things with silicon and other materials that have never been done before. The team of experts are multinationals all of them working towards a single goal.
In Akron, Ohio, once the tire capital of the world, experts have come together to work on polymers of the future—except they are producing them now. Once again experts from all over the world have come together in coordination with Akron city government and the University of Akron, and Akron has become the world’s center of advanced polymer development. These polymers will be used in everything from tires that last virtually forever, to highway pavement that melts snow upon falling, to car paints that will act as solar collectors and much, much more.
The secret is that these experts have dismantled their silos of secrecy and opened up their thoughts, ideas and expertise to one another working towards a greater goal. This is where we are headed, folks.
So, what does this mean to our American board shops who are secretive and paranoid when it comes to dealing with one another, never mind even considering dealing with multinational companies? It means that we are going to have to open our doors and our minds to new ideas, some of which have not been invented here. We are going to have to share, partner and collaborate as much as possible or we will not survive.
I make this prediction: Companies who continue to be secretive and paranoid of others, continuing the American PCB tradition of “every company for itself,” are going to die. It’s as simple as that.
But there is hope. It has become evident that some of our customers, especially the ones building products of the future, are developing PCB requirements that far outreach what most board shops can provide. And I mean just about every board shop in the world. PCB technology is rapidly becoming the short pole in the tent.
In order to succeed, these companies are going to have to start working with board shops, explaining to them what they need today and what they are going to need in the future when it comes to PCB technology. These companies are going to have to adopt the right board shop partners and treat them as collaborators. They are going to have to invest in these companies in terms of capital for the right equipment and the right people. They are going to have to work together side-by-side with the board shops, working as partners to produce PCBs with the technology they will need to make their products of the future.
This is pretty exciting stuff. But I warn the shops that you’d better be ready for this because those of you who have no interest in collaborating with your customers will fade away. And those of you who welcome your customers in with open arms and open minds will not only survive, but will thrive as part of this new wave of smart partnerships making new products for our amazing new world.
Are you ready? The time is now, so let’s do this. It’s only common sense.