Panasonic Doubles Down Print E-mail

Panasonic has been in the news often over the winter as the company considers dropping its plasma and other TV lines and refocuses on the business-to-business side of the company. The move is significant as Panasonic is the world's fifth largest TV manufacturer and its other lines of phones and AV gear are ubiquitous in homes around the world.

Faisal Pandit had been with Panasonic Factory Solutions for two decades before assuming the role of president last year. CIRCUITS ASSEMBLY spoke with Pandit about the company's direction and "DNA" at IPC Apex Expo in February.

CA: There is a lot of press about Panasonic lately, where does the Factory Solutions business stand?
Panasonic Factory Solutions is not like any other business division of overall Panasonic. We also serve a broader internal need within Panasonic itself. Panasonic manufactures the products the company sells worldwide on our own equipment. This makes us fairly unique both in the electronics market and as an electronics assembly manufacturing solution supplier. The DNA of Panasonic is manufacturing. That’s the history of the company.

When people think of Panasonic, TV comes to mind. What many people don’t realize is that Panasonic is really a B2B2C company in North America, where a significant majority of revenue comes from B2B solutions. The magic in the customer experience comes from leveraging our deep and broad global manufacturing expertise of electronics. People forget that the consumer side is just part of the equation.

MB: How do things stand right now in the Americas?
In North America, Panasonic Factory Solutions saw high double-digit growth in 2012. We added industry talent to our team and expanded in new markets and geographies. Our aim is to continually grow the business in North America. The intention is to go both wide and deep to increase penetration with our any-mix solutions.

The perception is we are only a high-volume player. We cater and support the broader market though too – regardless of volume. We are seeing a huge shift toward high mix. The volumes in “high volume” are shrinking. And the innovation cycle on some products is so rapid. So we see more and more requests for high mix. The focus for suppliers is on better cost-effectiveness. It used to be the variable was the cost of the equipment. Now, we look at materials cost and labor costs and how a supplier can drive efficiencies through all of this. We see our solution as an amalgamation of hardware, software, and services.

MB: What does “services” mean in this context?
Services for us are more than basic installation or repair—it’s to provide expertise that can help drive efficiencies across the enterprise. We have Lean manufacturing specialists, Six Sigma experts, consulting expertise, etc. We leverage our unique knowledge base built off of internal and external experiences to help customers enhance their business’ operational strengths, contribute to their financial health and identify new opportunities.

MB: North America traditionally hasn’t been a big believer in full-line solutions from a single supplier. What is Panasonic’s view on this?
The most important element is that the end solution be an efficient model for the customer. If we believe a solution from another vendor would be ideal for a customer’s need, we would integrate that solution. The key is successfully integrating with others to develop the ideal process. Ultimately we want to provide the best solution for our customer.



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