Nolan’s Notes: What’s the Point of Collaborating?

When I was a kid, we had a recluse who lived just down the street from us. I’m talking the movie stereotype of a recluse. You had to be up past your bedtime to catch him coming or going; he never ventured out during regular people hours. All the curtains were closed all the time, the lawn had long since reverted to a field of native species. Every Thanksgiving, just as we were ready to serve it up to the family, my mom would make up a plate ahead of everyone else. She’d dish up a healthy serving of everything, with plenty of gravy and two dinner rolls, and wrap it up with tin foil. Then, without a word, she’d hand it to me. While everyone started passing the feast around the table, I’d pop down the street, and knock on the recluse’s door, carefully set the plate down on the stoop, knock again, and step back 10 feet. Only then would he open the door—just a crack—and say, “Thank you!” I’d wish him a happy Thanksgiving and sprint home to catch up with our meal. I’d be sliding into my seat before the food was done being passed around. The next morning, mom’s plate would be resting on the recluse’s stoop, cleaned, and waiting for pick-up. That’s the kind of giving I’m talking about.

Still, things could go too far, give too much away. When it did, talk turned to spiteful rhinectomies.

That seems to have been a persistent thinking pattern in business over the past few years. In a marketplace with compressed margins, lots of competitors, and customers demanding tight schedules and challenging builds, the idea has been to keep all the business to yourself. After all, you worked hard for that sale.

SMT-Jun2022-cover250.jpgBut that was then; this is now. Demand for electronics continues to be high; customer requirements can be challenging to our skill set. When we can do a fair portion of the work, but not all of it, instead of turning the job away, many are turning to collaboration. This idea drove the design of our cover this month. The main result can often be built up from numerous other constituent parts. Our product portfolio, like the largest pencil, may be a mini supply chain in and of itself—if we’re collaborating effectively, that is.

When we first started planning this issue, we used the word “partnership” in our working title. Partnership certainly is one way to collaborate. Creating close working relationships with manufacturing specialists who can extend your capabilities for your customers is one obvious way to collaborate. But there are others.

Collaboration can also look like proactive communication with customers as well as vendors, as showcased by our interview with Dan Beaulieu and representatives from fabricators and a material supplier. The conversation focuses on an entire assembly project and high-level collaboration ideas.

Columnist Emmalee Gagnon makes the point that collaboration can be an internal resource management exercise as well. Collaboration can also take the form of corporate responsibility, as ICAPE’s Lea Maurel suggests. She writes, “A 2015 Nielsen survey showed that more than 50% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if the company prioritizes sustainability. It's a real indicator that consumers are asking more of companies. Companies should not just exist to make a profit but should give back to society and have a positive impact.”

That process of customers asking more of their vendors is an open invitation to collaborate with customers to grow into their needs, as well as an opportunity to develop partnerships.

Of course, those same customers tend to link environmental safety to sustainability. Hazardous chemicals and conflict-free mineral sources, therefore, play into corporate responsibility as well. In this issue, we step even further up the supply chain to get a take on the mineral/mining dichotomy. It’s worthwhile to remember that what we specify in our designs propagates as a demand all the way back to the mines digging up the ore to make the metals we consume. We provide an overview on the market dynamics from Noelle Lovern, as well as a compelling interview with mining CEO Shaun Dykes. In an industry like ours, where 90-day forecasts are often considered “strategic,” it’s mind-bending to consider that mining companies forecast out 20 years or more, and that our industry demands are a small part of their overall forecasting. Read our interview with Dykes to learn more about the how and why.

As always, our magazines are the culmination of collaboration with you, our readers. We strive to help advance the conversations we’re having within our industry. Your feedback and your suggestions for meaningful topics help advance the conversation as well. We love hearing from you.

This column appeared in the June 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine.

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Nolan’s Notes: What’s the Point of Collaborating?


When we first started planning this issue, we used the word “partnership” in our working title. Partnership certainly is one way to collaborate. Creating close working relationships with manufacturing specialists who can extend your capabilities for your customers is one obvious way to collaborate. But there are others, for example, collaboration can also look like proactive communication with customers as well as vendors.

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Nolan’s Notes: Where Are the Golden Eggs?


We all went through the simultaneous transitions in our industry in the last three years. To be clear, I’m referring to supply chain issues due to the pandemic, manufacturing channel resiliency, parts shortages, people shortages, governmental investment in infrastructure, and above all, a huge demand for manufacturing capacity. All that demand, all those hurdles, and the all the constraints can leave one a little dizzy. The reality is that we’ll feel both short- and long-term impacts from these trends.

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Nolan’s Notes: Changing Expectations


For our May 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine, we wanted to learn more about the challenges for high-mix, low-volume EMS firms building high density boards, and how they’re coping with those challenges. What we learned was that the high-density challenges, per se, were actually few and far between. What has been causing new headaches, however, is component packaging because of the unpredictability in the supply chain.

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Nolan’s Notes: What Are We Waiting For?


The future, ladies and gentlemen, is now. The Factory of the Future is a reality in some parts of the globe. So, if you and your facility aren’t already migrating to Industry 4.0, you’re at risk of being left behind. That’s the message in our detailed interview with IPC Chief Technologist Matt Kelly, who follows up on his IPC APEX EXPO comments. Make your plan and implement it. Do what you need to do; it does not require buying all new equipment. There are other ways to get the data you need. But start to capture the data and then use it to optimize your business practices. What are you waiting for?

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Nolan’s Notes: The Legislative Chokepoint


This month our topic for SMT007 Magazine is: The State of the Industry. There's no getting around having to send chips overseas for packaging. But how many trips around the globe does a chip need to make before it’s ready? And can our defense suppliers rely on such supply chain methods?

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Nolan’s Notes: Materials & Technology


Now more than ever, material performance, availability and pricing are key factors in the specification of materials in the design phase. This month we explore how new technology is driving materials R&D which in turn drives technology to innovate.

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Nolan’s Notes: Feeling the Heat of Rising Input Costs


Rising input costs are causing EMS companies to rethink pricing, suppliers and supply chains, labor, and how all those interrelationships function. In this issue we report on the current status of increased input costs and explore strategies to help reduce the risk and cost associated with today's marketplace.

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Nolan’s Notes:What’s Driving Europe?


It’s not breaking news that Europe is central to much of the automotive electronics development in the world economy, but what are the actual numbers?

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Nolan’s Notes: The Bottom Line on Cybersecurity and Counterfeiting


In the January 2022 issue of SMT007 Magazine, we bring you several articles on cybersecurity and counterfeiting and we share our “man on the street” interviews with industry representatives, discussing their take on the challenges and opportunities.

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