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  Articles & Papers Browse PMCI’s articles and conference papers on EMS business models, outsourcing trends, best practices and marketing strategy.

Conference Papers

Risk Mitigation and SIngapore's Supply Base
Medtech GATE Conference, March 2010

Developing a Robust Offshore Program Management Model
SMTA International, October 2009

Taking the Cost Out of the EMS Supply Chain
SMTA International, October 2007



Gazing in a Crystal Ball
Why the “rise of the robots” might be a good thing for workers.
Circuits Assembly, February 2020


Preparing for the Workplace of Tomorrow
Workers need to understand the “why” of manufacturing and how to manage processes.
Circuits Assembly, December 2019

Is It Time for Manufacturers to Move?
Would you stake your reputation on a new supply chain in a new region?
Circuits Assembly, October 2019

Management 101 from the Production Floor
Do you know the quiet leaders? Often they are the ones who get things done.
Circuits Assembly, August 2019

EMS Industry 2019: Sunny with a Chance of Showers
As we enter the middle of 2019, it appears to be shaping up as a good year for many in EMS.
Circuits Assembly, June 2019

Are You Losing Sales You Didn't Know You Could Win?
If I were to list deadly sins in sales, at the top would be failure to stay in touch with good prospects who are not yet ready to buy.
Circuits Assembly, April 2019

IPC Redesigns EMS Program Manager Certification Program
The revamped online course is supplemented with interactive webinars.
Circuits Assembly, February 2019


Sounding Board 2018
Reflections and Looking Ahead from the MPO Advisory Board
Medical Product Outsourcing, December 2018

Is It Time to Move?
Calculating costs to move physical gear is much simpler than predicting inefficiencies of new locales.
Circuits Assembly, December 2018

How Well Does Your Team Communicate?
A strong communications strategy for front-line employees pays big dividends.
Circuits Assembly, October 2018

A Challenging Market Equals Opportunity
Trade conditions bring “rain” to everyone. Focus on the customer experience.
Circuits Assembly, August 2018

Ten Considerations in the Jump From Job Shop to Full Service EMS Provider
Your customer wants to grow. Are you ready for the transition?
Circuits Assembly, June 2018

Why #MeToo May be a Step Too Far
Is the bigger issue a lack of trust in those who don't "look" like us?
Circuits Assembly, April 2018

The Trump Effect, One Year Later
Businesses are happy, but there is more work to be done.
Circuits Assembly, February 2018


The Value of Consistency in Customer Service
Resolving variances in program management across multiple facilities.
Circuits Assembly, December 2017

Could Foxconn's Wisconsin Deal Actually Materialize?
An more importantly, who will it affect and how?
Circuits Assembly, October 2017

Program Management and Negotiation: Same Rules, but a Different Playing Field
In the OEM-EMS relationship, getting to win-win requires a clearly stated business case.
Circuits Assembly, August 2017

Some Common Sense Thoughts on Finding Assemblers
Service sector businesses have plenty of functional parallels to SMT.
Circuits Assembly, June 2017

Enhancing Recruitment Efforts with Public-Private Partnerships
After more than two decades of a service economy, manufacturing companies have a challenge: recruiting employees.
SMT Magazine, May 2017

Revisiting The Trump Effect: Dealing with the Fear Factor
How EMS companies with plants in the US or Mexico can benefit. 
Circuits Assembly, March 2017

The Trump Effect and Manufacturing
It will be a year of breaking paradigms. It’s about time.
Circuits Assembly, January 2017


Better with Age
Are generational differences impacting your program management team’s performance?
Circuits Assembly, December 2016

Choose Your Marketing Strategy
EMS industry sales and marketing: why strategies vary widely.
SMT Magazine, December 2016

The Service Economy: Today's Training Challenge
When developing recruiting programs, don’t overlook employee integration.
Circuits Assembly, October 2016

Building Bridges With Cross Cultural Teams
Are you managing effectively cross culturally?
SMT Magazine, October 2016

EMS and Strategic Planning
Can market research help investment decisions? Sometimes.
Circuits Assembly, August 2016

Systems Strategy and Differentiation in EMS
No single “right” answer exists, but the right system will reduce cost and align with customer requirements.
Circuits Assembly, June 2016

Leveraging the EMS Business Model
The OEM should focus on total cost and alignment with business requirements.
Circuits Assembly, April 2016

Negotiation Tips and Tricks for Program Managers 
Seven smart ways to keep a program on track.
Circuits Assembly, February 2016

Digital Distinction
Success in the medtech EMS space is dependent on versatility, adaptability, and differentiators like connectivity technology expertise.
Medical Product Outsourcing, January/February 2016


Program Management Models
Strategic vs. tactical: which makes more sense?
Circuits Assembly, December 2015

The STEM Challenge
Are Manufacturers Engaged Enough?
Circuits Assembly, October 2015

Establishing an Operation in Mexico Means Evaluating Tradeoffs
For manufacturers, Mexico is a balance of promise and complexity.
Circuits Assembly, August 2015

Branding, Marketing and Selling in EMS
Aligning the three components of the sales process starts with a review of the business strategy.
Circuits Assembly, June 2015

Manufacturing Matters
Local production creates an economic engine the service economy can’t keep pace with.
Circuits Assembly, April 2015

The Death of the Knowledgeable EMS Salesperson
Finding doors are not opening to your sales pitch? Is it increased competition or the possibility that a commodity sales pitch isn't connecting with potential customers?
Circuits Assembly, February 2015

Fully Charged
A look at trends in medical outsourcing.
Medical Product Outsourcing, January-February 2015


The Right Way to Disappoint a Customer
Managed correctly, screwing up can help strengthen a relationship. This article looks at both the right way and the wrong way to tell a customer that a commitment can't be met.
Circuits Assembly, December 2014

The Customer Service Equation in EMS
Are you getting the return you expect from your program managers?
Circuits Assembly, October 2014

EMS Marketing is a Numbers Game
Amazed at the number of views a recent blog of mine (The Five Biggest Myths in Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) Sales and Marketing) received, I am expanding on the theme this month.
Circuits Assembly, August 2014

Are Buyers Commoditizing Your Company?
Picking the low bidder is always a safe and defensible choice. If one contractor appears to provide a better solution than the rest, slightly higher pricing is permitted. While some salespeople are better than others at achieving higher pricing, the reality is that consistently winning projects without being the lowest bidder is a team effort and a multi-stage process. This month’s column looks at how that workload should be divided between sales and the operations team.
Circuits Assembly, June 2014

The Business Prenup
One of the tongue-in-cheek justifications for changing the name of the electronics contract manufacturing industry to the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry back in the mid 1990s was that some “contract” manufacturers didn’t even have contracts with their customers. The reality is that the industry has two kinds of companies: those that don’t worry much about contracts and those that won’t produce product without a signed contract.
Circuits Assembly, April 2014.

Differentiation Without Confusion in EMS?
Selling an innovative value proposition means showing the idea has worked for similar end-customers.
Circuits Assembly, February 2014

Does Reliability Have a Place in EMS?
Experts say physics of failure is overtaking MTBF as the go-to model.
Circuits Assembly, December 2013

Dynamically In Sync
Despite a difference in market size, Singapore’s manufacturing sector has strong parallels to the US’s.
Circuits Assembly, October 2013

The Ins and Outs of Customer Satisfaction Surveys
To get useful results, make surveys actionable – and quick.
Circuits Assembly, August 2013

The Manufacturing Spin
Can the US shift out of a destiny as a service economy?
Circuits Assembly, June 2013

Finding The Right Contractor
Issues that make or break an outsourcing relationship.
Circuits Assembly, April 2013

Process Efficiency and Your Brand
Is your company evolving as fast as technology is?
Circuits Assembly, February 2013

Satisfying Defense Customers with a Mix of Well Defined Processes and Systems
Regional EMS providers face a unique challenge in the defense subcontracting realm. On one hand they often have an ideal mix of services to support high-mix, low-volume defense projects. On the other hand, the requirements for rigorous configuration management, maintaining older component inventories, and compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) can strain internal resources in smaller organizations.ulti-generational teams can ensure new technology is properly vetted.
MilAero 007, July 2012

US Insourcing: Trend or Empy Campaign Promise?
One hot topic on the US Presidential Campaign trail is "insourcing."
EMT Worldwide, February 2012

SMTAI Event Reflects Cautious Optimism and Interesting Trends
Exhibition space had been sold out for months and show traffic looked good. The overall conference had strong attendance. The EMS providers I’ve been talking with were having mixed results. Some were experiencing double-digit growth and others were flat or seeing a drop in revenues compared the prior year.
EMT Worldwide, November 2011

EMS Industry Still Upbeat
While there is much debate as to the right US government economic policies going forward within the US, many mid-tier and regional EMS providers have seen growth this year.
EMT Worldwide, October 2011

Strategy Plays Key Role in Mid-Tier EMS Supply Chain Management
There is merit to the idea that larger firms get better material pricing and larger allocations of critical components than their smaller counterparts. They also often have better global procurement capabilities. But, since raw material cost is often 60 to 75% of unit price, why haven’t the big fish emptied the pond by now?
SMT Magazine, September 2011

Japan's Horrific Disaster Teaches Us Many Things
I’ve spent a lot of these last few weeks staying abreast of news from Japan. To me, this is more than a distant natural disaster because I lived in Japan, near Tokyo, for nearly three years while in high school.
EMT Worldwide, March 2011

EMS Executives Comment on Industry Trends in 2011
In looking at trends for 2011, Susan Mucha polled electronics manufacturing services executives and also tapped the expertise of long-time industry watcher Tony Hilvers at IPC.
EMT Worldwide, January 2011.

Interesting Trends in American Recovery
September through to November is definitely show season in the US electronics manufacturing industry. While I didn’t attend the event, ESC Boston in mid-September got positive exhibitor comments in terms of traffic.
EMT Worldwide, November 2010.

Singapore’s Holistic Approach Drives Competitive Advantage
Public bodies, medical device companies, suppliers and academia collaborate in the development of advanced manufacturing techniques.
European Medical Device Technology, October 2010

Electromagnetics Drive this Clean, Flexible Conveyor
The phrase "electromagnetic levitation conveyor" might conjure up images of a futuristic factory with floating production lines. But reality isn’t far from science fiction in this case.
Medical Design, October 2010

MX Business Space: Assessing Singapore and Its Workers
Medical device contractors in Singapore focus on quality of life for empolyees.
MX Magazine, September 2010

A Mid-year Review
In January, I described the U.S. economy as resembling a weather forecast. Whether it is warming or arctic cold depends on one’s frame of reference. Since in the U.S. newscasters are now debating whether we are in a slow recovery or a slow slide into a double dip recession, I thought it might be a good time to review my earlier observations.
EMT Worldwide, September 2010

Quality of Life Key to Singapore Manufacturing
How does workplace life differ in Asia from the U.S.? I discussed this question with four Singapore-headquartered companies and found that there were a surprising number of similarities as well as a few differences.
IMPO, August 2010

Reflections on the Most Exciting Segment of Electronics
I’ve focused this article on the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) industry rather than on the electronics industry as a whole, because I feel that the evolving EMS business model has been such an integral part of the electronics industry evolution that it deserved special focus.
EMT Worldwide, August 2010

More than Labour in ‘Lowest Total Cost’
I’ve been spending a fair amount of time travelling within Asia and looking at the total cost equation in outsourcing. I thought this would also be good topic for a column.
EMT Worldwide, June 2010

Recovery Challenges - Balancing Capacity and Demand
One of the biggest challenges EMS companies seem to be facing in 2010 is lengthening component lead-times. After a year of slow sales, just as demand is picking up, lead-times are stretching out.
EMT Worldwide, March 2010

Finding the Right Formula
Singapore’s public-private partnership synergies help eliminate hidden outsourcing costs.
Medical Product Outsourcing, January/February 2010

Today's Economic Forecast Depends on Your Frame of Reference
The US economy is a lot like a weather forecast. Whether it is warming or arctic cold depends on one’s frame of reference.
EMT Worldwide, January 2010

A Manufacturing Partnership With a Backbone
Product realization success can involve business and technical partnerships.
Orthopedic Design Technology, November/December 2009

Two Strategies That Can Help Lower Cost
One positive trend I’ve seen driven by the recession is that there are far more conversations taking place relative to the role of manufacturing in global competitiveness.
EMT Worldwide, December 2009

Too Many Tradeshows, Too Few Attendees
In September and October, I attended IPC Midwest, MDM Midwest/Assembly Expo in Chicago and SMTA International (SMTAI) in San Diego.
EMT Worldwide, November 2009

The Evolving Role of Women in Engineering
Recently, a female EMT Worldwide reader initiated a lively discussion about women (or lack thereof) in engineering in aerospace and electronics fields. As someone who has been the only woman in the Board room and on technical conference panels on more occasions than I can count, the conversation got me thinking about possible article topics.
EMT Worldwide, October 2009

US Economy Giving Mixed Signals
Early August saw some glimmers of hope as several U.S. economic indicators either showed slowing declines or actual growth. Given the mixed data, I thought it might be best to start with specific information from three of these indicators rather than attempt to make a broad generalization.
EMT Worldwide, August 2009

Positive Change or Greater Cost?
The US manufacturing community has much to watch over the next few months as politicians in the US and abroad enact changes that may have significant implications on the cost of doing business.
EMT Worldwide, July 2009

Building a Robust Multinational Program Team
I thought I’d address a topic that I will also be addressing in October at Surface Mount Technology International in San Diego; the challenge of building an effective, multinational program management team.
EMT Worldwide, June 2009

Focus on Singapore
In March, I was part of a press tour of Singapore electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and precision engineering suppliers. As someone who has worked in the EMS industry for a few decades, several key points struck me.
EMT Worldwide, May 2009

Challenging Times in the EMS World
Electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers often pat themselves on the back for not being at the bottom of the food chain in the electronics industry. But in a recession, the bottom can look far better than the EMS providers’ role in the middle of the food chain which carries more risk.
EMT Worldwide, March 2009

Trends in Prototypes
I thought focusing on technology issues might be a good way to start the year. I’ve interviewed Duane Benson, the marketing manager at Portland, Ore.-based Screaming Circuits.
EMT Worldwide, January 2009

The Upside of Economic Downturns
It is hard to turn on the news without hearing a story on some new economic looming economic crisis. Homes are in foreclosure, lending is frozen, retail is depressed and unemployment has reached a 15 year high.
EMT Worldwide, December 2008

Fall Trade Show Wrapup
Midwest in the Fall! The autumn trade show scene in the USA has become slightly confused - Susan Mucha visited them all and this is her verdict.
EMT Worldwide, November 2008

EMS Companies May Profit from Economic Pain
In April I wrote a column titled What Recession? discussing positive comments from EMS providers at the APEX show, which in large reflected the fact that different sectors of the economic were in different economic cycles.
EMT Worldwide, September 2008

Notes From the Wild, WIld West
I ended my last article on Mexico (Viva Mexico!) by pointing out that Mexico is old world culture, a skilled high technology manufacturing location, a poor agrarian society, Montezuma’s revenge and the Wild West all rolled into one country. Well, both the Wild West and skilled high technology aspects are starting to heat up in Juarez so I thought this might be a good time for an update.
EMT Worldwide, August 2008

What Drives Regional EMS Success?
Back in April, my column focused on the optimism found in the US regional electronics manufacturing services (EMS) sector. That optimism seems to be continuing, in spite of the fact that some much larger Tier One EMS players have posted earnings warnings. I thought this might be a time to take a look at elements of that business model that help drive success. EMT Worldwide, July 2008

The Changing of the Guard
Change in senior management is both inevitable and important, argues Susan Mucha. But it needs to be handled properly.
EMT Worldwide, May 2008

What Recession?
An interesting comment I heard several times from regional EMS providers attending APEX was, "what recession?" Make no mistake, segments of the U.S. economy are experiencing significant downturn, but many U.S. regional EMS providers are seeing record levels of new opportunity. What drives this and what trends should be watched?
EMT Worldwide, April 2008

The Whys and Hows of EMS Program Manager Certification
Are your program managers certified? While offsite training may seem to be an unnecessary overhead expense in a time of some economic uncertainty, the better question may be ‘can you afford to not certify your program managers?'
EMT Worldwide, March 2008

Attitude Makes a Difference in EMS Customer Service
Are you delighting or enraging your customers?
EMT Worldwide, February 2008

Analyzing Total Cost Stays in Vogue
The electronics manufacturing services (EMS) market is very cyclical. When demand drops and recession ensues there is a stampede to the lowest cost markets. But as demand increases or becomes less predictable, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) analyze their EMS spend and rationalize their supply base either geographically or in terms of EMS business model. Many who do this exercise find one size doesn’t fit all.
EMT Worldwide, January 2008

Viva Mexico!
Mexico is back on the map for global EMS companies.
EMT Worldwide, December 2007

RoHS isn’t Everyone’s Cup of Tea
It is no secret that not all original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are thrilled with RoHS legislation. While some companies covered by exemptions are using that time for a slow conversion to RoHS, others choose to avoid the issue for as long as possible.
EMT Worldwide, November 2007

The Difference Between EMS and Outsourcing
Outsourcing only works if the outsourcing process is robust.
EMT Worldwide, October 2007

How Big is Too Big?
While Tier one EMS providers will continue to dominate, they will not take over.
EMT Worldwide, August 2007

Managing Customer Expectations
How closely does your company’s preferred business model mirror customer preferences?
EMT Worldwide, June 2007

Does Your Cost Reduction Focus Adequately Measure Accountability Cost?
The electronics industry’s unofficial motto has always been better, cheaper, faster. To that end, engineering and procurement are always challenged to find lower cost sources of supply. But at what cost is the lower price?
EMT Worldwide, May 2007


Differentiation--A Major Challenge for Most EMS Providers
A major challenge for most EMS providers is that there is great similarity between EMS providers in a given tier. This is often compounded by EMS marketing activities which seek to adapt best marketing practices by imitation instead of through innovation.
EMS Now, August 13, 2003

Recovery of the EMS Sector Translates to Increased Need for Marketing
As the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) sector starts to recover, EMS providers face a huge challenge: marketing themselves.
EMS Now, August 6, 2003

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