Viewpoint: Opening up – implications for the electronics industry

Author : Phil Simmonds | CEO | EC Electronics

01 September 2021

EC Electronics_Viewpoint_Opening up – implications for the electronics industry
EC Electronics_Viewpoint_Opening up – implications for the electronics industry

After over a year of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, the UK recently took another step forward in its journey out of the coronavirus pandemic. As the country adapts to a new way of life once more, we're likely to witness significant shifts in people & firms’ behaviours. And with increased digitisation & demand for electronics across almost all sectors, the electronics industry stands to continue its upward trajectory after recent events.

This viewpoint was originally featured in EPDT's H2 2021 Electronics Outsourcing supplement, included in the September 2021 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. And sign up to receive your own copy each month.

Here, Phil Simmonds, CEO at electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider, EC Electronics discusses what this return to a semblance of normality means for electronics suppliers, manufacturers and their customers...

Several factors have contributed to growth in the electronics industry in recent years. Still, the pandemic has also highlighted challenges the sector will need to overcome to keep up with rising demand. Like many other industries, electronics has seen significant disruptions to its global supply chain throughout the pandemic, with essential products like semiconductors in short supply. This has caused delays for some electronics suppliers, with reduced availability of anything from copper for cable assemblies to chips for printed circuit boards (PCBs). As a result, many OEM (original equipment manufacturers) customers have experienced extended lead times and hiked up prices.

However, all being well, manufacturers will be better equipped to keep up with the heightened demand for sub-assemblies and components for electrical devices as transport routes continue to reopen and labour shortages subside. Many companies are also starting to diversify their supplier networks and digitise the process — making use of advances in technology to secure a more sustainable future supply chain and move away from the ‘just-in-time’ model that has proved so vulnerable over the past year.

How will electronics aid market recovery?
The transition into a post-lockdown world, and the changing habits and attitudes that come with it, will directly impact many markets — and the electronics industry will feel the knock-on effects of this.

In the transport sector, demand for electronics is likely to grow, as we are allowed (and encouraged) to travel more freely. There are many different applications for electronics in the transport sector — from ‘smart’ motorway signs to contact-free ticketing and access for metro and mainline trains. Reliability and safety are critical in this field, and these electronics help to display vital information, monitor transport routes and optimise performance. As demand picks up again, electronics will be essential for services in the transport industry to function efficiently, safely and reliably.

Equally, companies are adapting offices and co-working spaces to reflect their changing use, as more people opt to work from home at least some of the time. Going forward, automated building control systems will be essential for building and office managers, as they spend less time on-site — allowing them to manage anything from utilities to security systems through the touch of a button (or even by voice).

And while many of us attempt to make the most of our reclaimed freedoms, the healthcare industry continues to bear the weight of a backlog of patient appointments (wait times are predicted to more than double over the coming months!). Fortunately, the healthcare sector is gradually integrating digital technology into various applications — from treatment delivery to digitising patient records — to streamline processes and alleviate some of the burdens on healthcare professionals. Automation and connected IoT devices, including sensors and wearable technology, will be particularly crucial as we head out of the pandemic, improving remote communication between doctors and patients, as the industry works through the backlog.

What does this mean for  EC Electronics?
Lifted restrictions could mean big business for electronics suppliers, manufacturers and OEMs, as more and more industries rely on technology to improve the efficiency and quality of products and services during this recovery period. But supply chain resilience will be critical.

At EC Electronics, we work with many of the sectors directly impacted by the changes and challenges of lockdowns. Despite a few hurdles along the way, we have taken proactive steps over the past year to secure our supply chains against future changes. We have adapted our approach, responding to the ever-changing market and customer demand with additional resources and increased capacity. This has allowed us to continue meeting our customers’ expectations and ensure we can provide the right products and services for their needs — and that we continue to do so as we head out of the pandemic.

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