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Bob Neves: IPC Continues Its Global Reach

Published: 2022-03-25 11:23:05 Browse: 129
During IPC APEX EXPO, Nolan Johnson visited with Bob Neves of Microtek Laboratories China and the new chair of the IPC Board of Directors. Nolan asks Bob about IPC’s views on the disruption in supply chain, about restoring PCB fabrication in the United States, and how the IPC is looking to resolve supply chain issues from a global perspective.
Nolan Johnson: Looking through the rest of 2022 from your seat on the board, at the end of the year, what will be the big story or stories for our industry? Where are we going to be?
Bob Neves: That’s a good question. As the pandemic ends and things start going back to normal we are unsure of what the industry will look like. Our members have spent a lot of time fighting fires trying to solve supply chain issues and I am unsure how quickly they’re going to go away. I believe one thing we have definitely  learned is that hiring qualified people is a challenge now and that’s not necessarily going to go away quickly.  IPC is addressing the need for industry education. The IPC board has really stressed the need to create an educational model that will make it easier for our members to hire skilled people who have knowledge that our members need, so that they’re not starting from zero going into the workforce.
Workforce education and skills challenges are something we’re really trying to solve. There are obviously additional regional issues that our government relations (GR) committees are trying to address given the supply chain has changed dramatically for a variety of economic and political reasons. There is a big push to move the supply chain more locally. As that develops and needs change, our goal is to help our members adapt to the changes that are going to happen post-pandemic. Other than the very clear educational needs, I don’t know if the industry has a clear understanding of what the supply chain will look like as we move forward. We’re watching that carefully, and we continue to fund the initiatives that we believe benefit our membership. The issues created by the recent pandemic have given the organization some time to react and push these things forward and to focus on them.
On the Standards front, the recent implementation of our IPCWorks digital platform is helping us better manage document development and has allowed us to improve the process of creating standards. We’re working hard on the IPC bookstore, our web presence, and just getting the word out about our mission and who we are as an organization.

Johnson: IPC has been involved in advocacy and lobbying, if you will, for the industry, to the U.S. government, zeroing in on the legislation and the discussion there about how to help bring technology back into the U.S. supply chain to create some resilience and local independence. And that’s certainly happening. How do you think that message is getting across at this point?
Neves: Well, let me re-characterize what you said. I think IPC as an organization is looking to help the industry worldwide resolve the issues that it faces. In the U.S., one of the issues our members face is dealing with the supply chain, and I think we have put together a strong effort to help our members with that issue, but that’s not the only issue or the only effort that we’re putting forward. We’re doing similar things in Europe and Asia, with our the regional GR committees. We are looking closely at regional issues, trying to help our members deal with the challenges they are facing, whether it’s government relations, supply chain, or anything else. This is not just a one-off response. As our mission clearly states, we are a global trade organization that acts regionally to help our further the competitive excellence and financial success of our members.

Johnson: Correct.
Neves: We’re looking at government relations, environmental issues, all the issues that are affecting our members worldwide and putting efforts where we feel they need to be in order to assist our members worldwide.

Johnson: From that perspective then, are the needs and the trends in the different geographic areas similar or vastly different? Can you compare and contrast?
Neves: Supply chain issues are global right now. We have concentrations of members in high volume regions that have fewer issues than lower volume regions.  These lower volume regions have lost local supply chains and face issues that differ from regions that have mega volumes like some parts of Asia do. Regarding government relations, each region is markedly different. North America tends to act consistently. Europe tends to act reasonably consistent within the EU. Asia is a group of individual countries with different cultures, governments, and company structures. Rather than a regional approach in Asia, we’re looking at taking more of a country-by-country approach. The needs of our members in each of these countries are different due to differing government regulations, culture, and company structure.
The GR needs of our U.S. members is focused on Washington D.C. and we have a single point of focus there for our U.S. members. We’re addressing differing regional issues based on the needs our membership has in the country or the region that they are located in. We have committees and working groups working on identifying and addressing issues in all the different countries and regions around the world where our members exist.

Johnson: Great. Thank you for sitting down and talking with me.
Neves: No problem.

Originally published on IPC APEX EXPO 2022 SHOW& TELL Magazine

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