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Trade group delves into 'on-shoring' in electronics

Posted: 07 May 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:electronics manufacturing? PCB manufacturers? manufacturing jobs?

Global trade group IPC has launched a survey to measure the impact of the migration of electronics manufacturing operations back to the U.S. from overseas, or what is more commonly known as "on-shoring." IPC represents printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturers and other electronics firms worldwide.

IPC said the survey would compile data to quantify on-shoring in terms of both location of operations and sourcing. Companies and suppliers in the electronics manufacturing industry based in the Americas can participate in the survey on IPC's website through May 25, the trade group said.

Electronics firms have for years been shifting manufacturing operations to emerging economies in Asia and elsewhere where wages are lower and labor laws less rigorous. In recent years, some companies have returned manufacturing to the U.S., saying that logistics difficulties and other issues make it more cost effective to build their products in the U.S. But while there is anecdotal evidence of the trend of returning manufacturing jobs to the U.S., no hard numbers exist to suggest that those returning jobs outpace the flood of continued manufacturing migration off shore.

But IPC maintains that it put data behind the anecdotes four years ago with a survey that confirmed some limited on-shoring was indeed taking place in North America. Since then, drivers of the supposed trend, including rising labor costs in China, hidden costs of overseas manufacturing and technology developers' need to protect their intellectual property, have been gaining momentum, according to IPC.

IPC said its new study looks at on-shoring from three perspectives: electronics manufacturing operations moving back to the Americas, new operations that companies choose to build in the Americas, and whether electronics companies are changing suppliers in order to source more materials from their home region.

The study is designed to measure the changes that have taken place since 2008, identify where and in what product segments on-shoring is occurring and explain why on-shoring is occurring, IPC said. The study is also designed to quantify the impact on revenue and jobs in the Americas and assess the current business environment as well as the future outlook of on-shoring, the trade group said.

IPC plans to publish the results of the new survey in June.

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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