Have you ever gone back to the hometown you knew well after a long time away? I've been away from the electronics supply chain for a decade or so and the new landscape is amazing.
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, I began my career as an associate editor of Electronics Buyers News, what we now know as EBN. After a few years of being steeped in evolving semiconductor technology, component lead time worries, purchasing manager interests, distribution trends, and more, I went further afield to write about computers, software, security, and other segments of the electronics industry. For many years, I focused on where all those components end up.
Now, I'm coming back home to be the managing editor of EBN. What I've found is that, while many of the landmarks are the same, the supply chain has transformed itself. The well-known organizations that I knew then have continued to grow and reinvent themselves as many other familiar brands disappeared through business alliances and closures.
The world has gotten bigger, the partnerships have moved farther afield, and many organizations are using technology in smart and sophisticated ways to both manage and predict what's happening. That's a good thing, because the supply chain has also grown exponentially in terms of complexity.
I was chatting recently with Victor Allis, chief executive at supply chain vendor Quintiq, who said it this way:
It's been a steady trend over many years that the pieces of the puzzle are getting smaller. The picture remains the same, but size of the pieces is shrinking. In manufacturing, batches are getting smaller, delivery times are getting shorter, and, as a direct result, the number of moving parts in the supply chain keeps rising. What was good enough last year isn't going to be good enough next year.
It's an exciting time to be part of the global supply chain conversation. Mobile devices, automation, big-data, and a host of other technologies and trends keep things fresh and exciting.
At least at first, it's pretty overwhelming. But there's one thing that is certain: It's good to be home.