PCB materials, costs and supply chain – the perspective of the managing director of Cambridge Circuit Company, Mark Sanford.
With rising energy prices, interest rates and inflation, they are all facing a challenging economic climate and the PCB sector is not immune. Successive increases in prices for copper, glass yarn, resins and aluminum mean that the PCB industry has become smarter in forecasting demand, thus minimizing cost increases and delays in execution.
As one of the UK’s other domestic PCB manufacturers, Cambridge Circuit Company has built great working relationships with its suppliers, especially laminate flooring professionals, who continue to provide confidence that there is no shortage of basic materials. Using a large and long-established supplier that has strong internal stocks and can buy in bulk to reduce costs is the best way for Cambridge Circuit Company to minimize cost increases. Quarterly dictated material prices make it much easier to offset or postpone these increases.
There are difficulties in supplying certain products, such as heavier copper weights, largely driven by global growth in the EV market. As some products are only available to suppliers when distributed, forecasting demand and providing the greatest possible notice are the ways in which the industry will navigate its challenges.
Energy prices are rising by leaps and bounds, and as a domestic producer, the Cambridge Circuit Company really relies on supplying electricity at economical prices. The company’s CFO spends a lot of time working with a long-established and trusted energy broker to get the best deals possible to help the company stay competitive and avoid price increases.
International transport costs have risen and delivery times have increased. This is a result of delays in delivery from Asia and the United States, plus a combination of container costs, container availability, reduced delivery routes and congestion at the port. Although this may affect material costs and availability, this can be seen in part as an advantage for Cambridge Circuit Company and its UK-based customers, as once production begins, production takes place internally and products are delivered without international transport.