We attempt to forecast the future in order to ensure that today's decisions and the actions which follow will continue to be relevant as the future becomes the present. Historically, forecasts of the kind and direction of technological development have consistently been better than forecasts of the timing, application and impact of such developments. The latter, however, are the more important when assessing what changes are likely to be significant. The paper examines both technical and environmental factors which make this sort of forecasting difficult and considers their relevance to the particular circumstances posed by high volume component manufacture. Against this general background, the paper speculates on the future role of such companies, the development of techniques and technologies to maintain their competitive position and the adjustments necessary to meet changes in both social and trading environments.