Japan's competitive edge: how has the island nation managed to maintain the leading share of PCBs? A relentless cost-reduction drive.LATELY I HAVE taken to analyzing the data on overseas production by Japanese-owned PCB PCB: see polychlorinated biphenyl.
in full polychlorinated biphenyl
Any of a class of highly stable organic compounds prepared by the reaction of chlorine with biphenyl, a two-ring compound. manufacturers as collected via the Japan Printed Circuit Association. The results were hardly predictable. Only 24 of 186 Japanese Japanese (jăp'ənēz`), language of uncertain origin that is spoken by more than 125 million people, most of whom live in Japan. There are also many speakers of Japanese in the Ryukyu Islands, Korea, Taiwan, parts of the United States, and PCB manufacturers produced boards overseas in 2003. Because the majority of consumer electronics production had already been transferred to other countries, the number is much smaller than I had expected.
Almost 60% of the production of single-sided PCBs by Japanese manufacturers has been sent overseas. More than 38% of flexible circuits were produced overseas as well. Overseas production of other products was much lower, however. For example, it was less than 17% for double sided PCBs. And for multilayers it was less than 12%. Just 5.3% of substrates for chip modules were built offshore last year.
Manufacturers were planning to transfer production abroad in the future. But they have no plans to significantly increase overseas production in the next few years, except for flex circuits See flexible circuit. .
The data do not reveal it directly, but Japanese PCB makers are confident that they can compete for domestic customers against overseas manufacturers in the near term, even though the competition supplies low-end products such as double-sided boards. Also the manufacturers were expecting to increase the export of circuit boards to other Asian countries Noun 1. Asian country - any one of the nations occupying the Asian continent
country, land, state - the territory occupied by a nation; "he returned to the land of his birth"; "he visited several European countries" . High-end circuit boards made in Japan are still price-competitive against other countries.
The details of the analysis will be described in JPCA's manufacturers survey report and will be published in the next few weeks.
Driving for Dollars
Toyota Motors, the largest Japanese automobile manufacturer, reported income of more than $10 billion for the fiscal year ended last March. It could be the largest profit ever for a manufacturer. A Japanese newspaper compared the major automobile companies in the U.S. and Japan (TABLE 1).
Notice the difference in profit margins. Japanese automobile manufacturers have much higher profit margins than American automakers. Commenting on why this is the case, managers at American automakers have pointed to the strong U.S. dollar, new facilities, and so on. These are factors, to be sure, but are not the true explanation.
It is my opinion that the major driver is corporate-level cost-reduction activities. Accordingly, they have high productivity, even though the employees have the world's highest salaries. There are several famous programs such as Kaizen This article is about a continual improvement philosophy. For Kaizen ($K), a fantasy currency invented by Kaizen Games, see Priston Tale.
“Red tag” redirects here. For designation of damaged structures, see Red-tagged structure. and the Kanban Meaning "visible record" in Japanese, it is a system of notification from one process to the other in a manufacturing system. Kanban cards, which may be multicolored based on priority, are stored in a bin or container that holds the items. They describe the parts, supplier and quantity. System, which have also been introduced in the U.S. Unfortunately, it is my experience that very few people in the U.S. know the real value of the programs and in trials the companies have not generated remarkable results.
Many Japanese electronics companies have similar cost-reduction activities, and it is their competitive advantage. Otherwise, the high labor cost in Japan would leave them noncompetitive with low-wage countries such as China.
Toyobo will significantly increase manufacturing capacity of polyimide Pronounced "poly-ih-mid." A type of plastic (a synthetic polymeric resin) originally developed by DuPont that is very durable, easy to machine and can handle very high temperatures. Polyimide is also highly insulative and does not contaminate its surroundings (does not outgas). resin resin, any of a class of amorphous solids or semisolids. Resins are found in nature and are chiefly of vegetable origin. They are typically light yellow to dark brown in color; tasteless; odorless or faintly aromatic; translucent or transparent; brittle, fracturing for adhesiveless flexible laminates. Likewise, Nittobo will increase capacity of thin glass cloth a woven fabric formed of glass fibers.
See also: Glass to meet demand for epoxy epoxy
Any of a class of thermosetting polymers, polyethers built up from monomers with an ether group that takes the form of a three-membered epoxide ring. The familiar two-part epoxy adhesives consist of a resin with epoxide rings at the ends of its molecules and a curing boards.
Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, a major copper laminate laminate,
n a thin slice of porcelain or plastic fabricated in a dental lab, which is cemented to the front of the teeth to cover gaps, whiten stained teeth, or reshape chipped or broken teeth. supplier, will invest several billion yen to increase manufacturing capacity of BT resin laminates by 200,000 [m.sup.2] per month.
Ibiden will double its capital equipment investment to 25 billion yen in 2004.
Nippon Steel Chemical has turned the corner thanks to the booming adhesiveless laminate business, and will be in the black by next March.
TABLE 1. Major Automobile Makers in the U.S. and Japan TOYOTA NISSAN GM FORD Cars sold (millions) 6.71 2.94 8.09 6.72 Revenue ($ billions) 161.78 69.50 185.53 164.20 Net profit ($ billions) 10.87 4.71 3.82 0.49 Profit margn (%) 6.72 6.78 2.06 0.30
DOMINIQUE NUMAKURA is managing director of DKN Research (Haverhill, MA) and publisher of Electronic Packaging Technologies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.