The Changing Times of the Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing Industry

Expenditure is one of the most important factors when it comes to printed circuit board manufacturing. It is this important factor that led to the outsourcing boom in the PCB industry. Lately, there have been some immense changes taking place in the industry worldwide. These changes are directly related to cost competitiveness and the creation of quality enhanced products.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), a global management consultant firm, recently released research on dramatic changes taking place worldwide in terms of global PCB manufacturing cost competitiveness. According to the research, perception regarding nations that manufacture PCBs (both low and high cost) has changed radically, thanks to changes in global economies, labor, and infrastructure.

Today, 6 out of 10 low cost manufacturing countries are in Asia. The rest are dispersed in the United States and Eastern Europe. While China was known to be the most popular destination, today, Mexico has been found to have much lower manufacturing costs. When studying Western Europe, the United Kingdom was found to be the country with the lowest manufacturing costs.

The United States and Eastern Europe are on par with each other. The manufacturing cost structure in Australia has been found to be 25 to 30% higher than the US. The biggest surprise is that Brazil has been found to have the highest manufacturing costs in South America. The reason for these changes is that PCB manufacturing organizations are beginning to rethink their manufacturing networks around the world as countries are trying to establish strong and stable economic bases.

So what is the bottom line here? The age old perception that some countries can be demarcated as low cost and others as high cost is quickly dissolving. For example, while the US may have been previously seen as a high cost nation; the research shows that overall costs in the US is 25% less than any of the top 10 global goods exporting countries. The only exception to this case is China.

The main feather in the cap for US’ success is energy. Rich but low cost energy sources are being supported by a stable economy and a knowledgeable and diligent work force. The combination of these three factors results in a huge low cost market for printed circuit board manufacturing.

One can presume that the American PCB manufacturing industry can see a huge boom in the near future. Bob Dylan perfectly summed up this current situation when he sang, “Oh the times they are a-changing.”