At least the few people left in this industry should make a stink, why all these jobs went to China and take efforts to get them back. If I take a typical line, which can do 20,000 components an hour, costs $ 200,000, a board with 50 different components, an average of 3,000 components per reel, then one reel empties every 7.5 hours. This in itself can't keep one operator busy. Let's further assume, there are 200 components (50 different) and 4 boards on the panel, then one panel is done in 2.4 minutes. The board stacker at the end of the line can hold 40 panels and fills up in 1.6 hours. Even that, can't keep one operator very busy. I'm getting reports from Japan, that one operator handles 8 lines. Do you remember, how many operators were around the machines, when you were employed in a manufacturing plant? The $ 200,000 line should be written off in 4 years, or 920 days at 16 hours a day = 14,720 hours. Machine cost $ 13.60 per hour. The board with top and bottom side and 200 components may cost $ 10. At 576 boards an hour, there are $ 5,760 material cost. It is quite obvious, that the cost of manufacturing make only a small percentage of the product prize. Nevertheless, the contract house can only operate with the cost of manufacturing.
1. The offshore manufacturing trend started with used machines. Assuming the used machine cost only of new, than the line costs only $ 3.60 per hour. This could have been done here as well. 2. One operator can keep simultaneously 4 lines running. At $ 10 an hour these are $ 2.50 per line. Building rent is $ 33 per day or $ 1.85 per working hour. 3. 1.+2. = $ 7.95. 576 boards = $ 7.95 ~ 13 cents per board. 4. If I neglect the operator cost as well as the building rent in China, then I still have the machine cost, no matter where in the world the machine is operated at 576 boards = $ 3.60, ~ 6 cent per board. The difference is significant with 7 cents a board, however, put the board in an envelope and stick a 7 cent stamp on it and see how far the envelope will travel.
Statement: This post is only the personal view of the author and does not represent the opinions of ALLPCB.com.