Current Issue

Greg PapandrewIt’s adding unnecessary costs to your supply chain.

Want a more robust and cost-effective supply chain? Shrink it. Remove the expensive middleman. You don’t need to pay a PCB broker a 20 to 40% markup to, basically, relay information from you to overseas vendors.

The truth is the PCB broker business model – where companies buy printed circuit boards from an overseas manufacturer and then resell them to a customer – is outdated. And it’s adding unnecessary costs to your supply chain.

Years ago, brokers were small operations, with perhaps three to five people. And at one time, they did provide a valuable service to their customers, offering lower prices on boards made overseas, while handling all the details of procurement from foreign vendors in what was often a challenging PCB buying cycle.

Read more: It’s Time to Bypass the PCB Broker

The tariff situation has given rise to questionable add-on costs.

Read more: Is Your Board Broker Above Board?

Greg PapandrewIt’s time for an industry program to train board buyers.

A printed circuit board is unique to every different application or customer, has over one hundred separate required manufacturing processes, and may come from down the street or halfway around the world. In other words, PCB purchasing is a complicated business. The traditional way of board buying can lead to costly mistakes and may expose companies to financial liability.

I am on a mission to fix that.

PCB buying has changed a lot since I started as a salesman in this industry more than 25 years ago. Back then, purchasing departments were larger. Buying was broken down into specific commodities, with buyers assigned to manage only one or, at most, a few of them. Buyers had the time and available resources to be well-versed in their assigned commodities. Many buying teams resided in the very facilities that designed the boards’ products and used the parts.

Read more: The Better Board Buyer

Mike Buetow

I left off last month on the subject of progress. “Are you making progress?” I asked. “In your career? In your life? And if not, do you plan to start?”

We at UP Media Group are planning to start right now. Last month, during our annual PCB West trade show, we announced the signing of a letter of intent to sell certain assets, including this magazine, to the Printed Circuit Engineering Association. More on that in a moment.

In its two short years, PCEA has already established itself as the leading association for printed circuit engineers. The leaders of the Designers Council formed it after IPC, its longtime benefactor, decided to go a different direction. The trade group has ties to SMTA and the European Institute for the PCB Community (EIPC), among others. And it is the certifying body for the PCE-EDU Printed Circuit Engineering Professional curriculum.

What, exactly, does this change mean? I’ll answer three ways.

First, for PCEA, it acquires the PCB West and PCB East trade shows, PCD&F/CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY magazine; the PCB UPdate digital newsletter; the PCB Chat podcast; the PCB2Day workshops; and Printed Circuit University, the dedicated online training platform. It also includes all the databases and related websites, among other things. The move makes PCEA a significant player in terms of its capability to reach a huge audience of printed circuit designers and engineers, fabricators and assemblers, not to mention the massive trove of content it has for those audiences.

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