Electronics Supply Chain Group Goes Global

The National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative has added "International" to its name, in a bid to place an increasingly stronger emphasis on the global supply chain.

Less than a month after the NCSC (National Cargo Security Council) made similar moves, an industry trade group in another segment—NEMI (National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative)—has changed its name, with plans to take additional steps toward more emphasis on the global supply chain.

Starting this week, NEMI is now known as INEMI (International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative), Jim McElroy, the organizations executive director and CEO, said in an interview with eWEEK.com.

Meanwhile, the group has also modified its bylaws to let any employees of any member company sit on the board of directors, regardless of where that company is headquartered. New activities are in the works for Asia and Europe, too.

Made up of about 70 major electronics firms, INEMI sets 10-year technology roadmaps around the directions in which 16 areas of the industry are heading, including software, mass storage, connectors, product life cycle and "environmentally conscious electronics."

"We re-spin the roadmap every two years," he said. The group also performs gap analysis, "determining where [existing] infrastructure is not going to meet the roadmap, and what needs to be done to close the gaps," he said.

"We work with member companies on the development of new machines, new materials and new software," McElroy said.

Members represent electronics markets ranging from automotive to computers to telecommunications. But nonmembers are welcome to pitch in on the process, too, he said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about patent-pending RFID technology.

After release of the 2004 roadmaps two years ago, some participants started to focus on lead-free electronics that will meet government requirements in European countries, for example. Since then, NEMI/INEMI has been performing reliability testing around lead alternatives such as tin-silver copper alloys.

New roadmaps, slated for public availability during February, will require a bigger thrust toward "looking at new ways of exchanging data" within the electronics industry, McElroy told eWEEK.com.

The 2004 roadmaps marked the first time the organization actively recruited participation from European- and Asian-based companies, he said.

Along the way, the initiative has also worked with a number of standards groups, such as IEEE and RosettaNet, on international standards.

But the initiatives transition to greater internationalization has actually been gradual. "We were formed in 1994, at a time when there was a lot of concern about manufacturing going to other countries, such as Japan," McElroy said.

Initially, the group comprised only U.S.-based companies. "But with the passage of NAFTA in 1996, we started to include members from Canada and Mexico. And at a certain point in time, it no longer made any sense to be [exclusively] made up of North American members," McElroy said.

In a totally different industry segment, the NSCS announced a name change to ICSC (International Cargo Security Council) in mid-December. In addition, the supply chain security group unveiled plans to add new chapters on other continents.

For his part, INEMAs McElroy said he senses a rising trend toward internationalization among industry trade groups of many different sorts.

"Whether or not theyre changing their names, theyre concentrating more on the global supply chain," McElroy said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news and analysis of enterprise supply chains.