Examining the New Europe

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Despite its myriad uncertainties and ongoing intellectual struggles concerning its future direction, Europe is looking more and more like the new land of opportunity for the eager visitor and opportunity-starved native alike.

This month marks the official launch of CleanRooms' Inside Europe [see page 8], a section devoted to breaking contamination control news of the European market. Every other month, our established network of reporters and newly established set of European correspondents will report news and features to help our readers monitor the pulse of this awakening giant.

It's no secret that the current semiconductor rebound has set the European cleanrooms market on fire. On this month's cover [see “Semiconductor rebound welcomed,” p. 1] and throughout Inside Europe, stories of fab restarts and groundbreakings abound. The news comes as sweet relief to many cleanroom suppliers and distributors — one has even reported that it's currently turning business away in Germany.

Manufacturers that were recently flat on their backs are now riding high on the surge of telecom, smart cards and evolving automotive technology; while established market leaders like Infineon and Philips are stepping into the new frontier of 300mm technology.

Regardless of size, these players are faced with yet another critical personnel ramp-up — a delicate balance of resource allocation and personnel training. For fab managers it's the age-old dilemma: How much time should be spent to train an employee who might not survive the next downturn?

With all the semiconductor buzz, it would be easy to quickly dismiss the traditionally strong European markets, such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, for the short term. According to Mark Dalziel, managing director of flooring manufacturer Dycem, the long-term future for Europe remains in its ability to stay nimble, to capitalize on the pharmaceutical and medical device markets and grow into the emerging markets like food, printing and automotive.

Sounds like a plan that transcends all borders, all languages.

Michael Levans Chief Editor


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