Editorial: May you live in interesting times…

Author : Mark Gradwell, Consultant Editor

03 September 2018

Mark Gradwell, Consultant Editor of EPDT

As electronic design engineers and/or manufacturers, many of you will be familiar with the world of EMS and CEMs. You may already regularly outsource your manufacturing to a trusted partner. You might occasionally turn to an EMS provider for help, advice and expertise in the design and prototyping phase...

For the digital issue of this piece, please visit this link – or click here to register for EPDT's magazine.

Otherwise, you might be facing capacity issues and nervously considering engaging a CEM for the first time. Whatever your situation, hopefully in our September 2018 issue, as well as in our site's Electronics Outsourcing section, we have you covered.

In common with much of industry, electronics design and manufacturing is currently navigating and dealing with a fair amount of uncertainty in their environment. After decades of neglect and indifference (and some would argue managed – or even mismanaged – decline) from successive governments, UK manufacturers had started to undergo somewhat of a renaissance since the financial crisis a decade ago.

Engineering was back in vogue, as financial engineering was blamed for the catastrophic outcome of years of speculative, but ultimately shady dealings – and successive governments of all persuasions woke up to the fact that designing and making things to sell should be an important part of the economy. Industrial strategy came back into parlance as the UK realised it had work to do to catch up with some of its manufacturing peers, as digitalisation, the IoT and Industry 4.0 all drove the need for investment – but that there was also a significant economic opportunity.

However, as my September editorial here discusses, Brexit is injecting a serious amount of turbulence and uncertainty for manufacturers. Electronics manufacturers, with complex global supply chains, perhaps have even more questions and concerns than some about the impact of whatever flavour of Brexit we will end up with. Read my column here for more on this topic...

Another issue that is creating lots of uncertainty, concern and discussion, even among those who work with EMS providers, is that of soaring demand for – and subsequent shortages of – electronic components. This ongoing exponential increase in demand is impacting the industry through unpredictable and lengthening lead times, rapid price increases and even outright lack of availability – all of which ripple all the way down the supply chain.

The good news is that this issue is driven by healthy industry demand, as the IoT and Industry 4.0 drive connectivity and intelligence into new, ‘smart’ (read electronic) versions of everything – aided and abetted by other global mega-trends, including 5G, and electric and autonomous vehicles. The other good news is that your EMS and CEM partners are best placed, and will be more than happy, to help you navigate these issues. Good luck!...


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