Viewpoint: What’s in store for electronics technologies in 2022 & beyond...

Author : Molex subject matter experts

01 January 2022

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shutterstock_1999230791

Throughout 2021, connectivity & electronics solutions provider, Molex has undertaken a number of surveys researching hot topics for the electronics industry, including digital health & the future of pharma, the car of the future & vehicle electrification, Industry 4.0, and 5G & the future of mobile devices.

This viewpoint was originally featured as the cover story in the January 2022 issue of EPDT magazine [read the digital issue]. And sign up to receive your own copy each month.

In this viewpoint, Molex subject matter experts will share insights from the surveys and offer predictions for these industry and application sectors, all centring around how mass customisation – especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic – is becoming the driving force to propel technology innovation in 2022 and beyond…

Consumers have always demanded choice. But never before has consumer demand so dominated how nearly every industry is driving product strategy—from design and planning to supply and production. Shifting buyer attitudes, fuelled by the pandemic, has propelled technology and businesses to rapidly develop new services and solutions for consumers that better suit their individual needs. From grocery pick-up and food delivery, to mobile experiences, virtual doctor consultations and work-from-home technologies, consumers have become more accustomed than ever to having increased options to shape their customised lifestyle. This desire to pick “what works best for me” is here to stay and technology will need to follow suit, as consumers’ desire for mass customisation propels technology innovation in 2022 and beyond…

As OEMs and suppliers race to keep up with an ever-more demanding user base, this prompts a number of key movements, reactions and changes which should be understood and planned for, including:

•  How is this desire for customisation impacting their product development and go-to-market strategies?

•  What are they doing to react faster, pivot quickly and keep pace with demand?

Consumer devices & IoT  

Lee Ettleman, Director Corporate Development

•  Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will launch device intelligence off the charts. This means compute processing power will need to expand by vast levels in a multitude of consumer products, ranging from your smartwatch to your smart home security systems.

•  Advancements in technology and labour challenges will continue to drive the adoption of robots in the service industry, prompting robotics and automation to work alongside today’s workers to efficiently serve consumers, drive more business opportunities and brand differentiation.

Data centres

Neha Aggarwal, Director Corporate Development

•  Innovations arising from the integration of electronics and photonics will disrupt the current technology ecosystem, making connectivity and device interactions more seamless and on-the-go wellness monitoring and detecting more mainstream.

•  Requirements for more connectivity, increased data speed and latency are prompting software and hardware companies to build more infrastructure around transmission. As data speeds increase and fibre networks begin branching directly into homes, more optical cabling will be needed to support local fibre branches, representing a deviation from the current model, which relies on heavy backhaul cabling for all transmission needs.

Healthcare & medical technologies

Justin McMath, Director Corporate Development

•  Consumers’ desire for the quantified self (the cultural phenomenon of measurement and tracking of individual data, including biological, physical and behavioural, via technology) will drive technology that delivers real-time consumer health diagnostics to keep them at peak performance. This requires seamless data capture and exchange between the myriad of devices and equipment that provide reads on several health-related vectors, including blood-based diagnostics, microbiome analysis, AI-powered support bots, mobile imaging and other direct-to-consumer testing to ensure high quality of data to provide the most accurate medical picture.

•  Patients will increasingly seek alternatives to traditional treatment locations such as doctor’s offices and clinics – they will demand at-home treatments including testing and monitoring. This will prompt a swift ramp-up in designs and models of easy-to-use, sustainable devices that can be produced to provide availability to large numbers of patients.

•  2022 will see more individualised treatments and tailored therapeutic regimens to meet patient needs resulting from advances in companion diagnostics, real world evidence and drugs based on patient cells (for instance, CAR-T therapies).

•  Medical devices will be become smarter: clinician and patient expectations will require new systems and delivery methods that are easier to use and more comfortable, such as smart inhalers, smart injectors, non-invasive continuous glucose monitors and more.

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shutterstock_1463056853

•  Healthcare will embrace AI as a means of enabling the human machine interface, accelerating diagnoses with greater accuracy, applying predictive analysis or suggesting new compounds and mechanisms of action, all extrapolated from massive sets of reliable, accurate data.

•  2022 will see a strong emergence in use of advanced imaging, 3D printing and other enhanced materials to simulate and build custom medical devices to treat individual physiologies, such as congenital heart defects and neurovascular stenting.

Automotive & transportation

Kelly McCartney, Director Corporate Strategy

•  Electric vehicles (EVs) will see a dramatic change in their enabling models. From new functionality to improved batteries to different charging station options, EV designers must stay ahead of and plan for the mass movement in all aspects of EV enablement to serve high market demand.

•  Decoupling of hardware and software will impact every part of the vehicle, well beyond infotainment, forcing OEMs and suppliers to leverage software expertise for automotive design.

•  Consumers will continue to ramp up demand for more customisation in their automotive choices, requesting more pick-and-choose/ad hoc bundles that allow them to create their own experience, including entertainment, warranties, and maintenance and insurance bundles.

•  Electric truck availability will be the catalyst for mass adoption of EVs in the US, ushering in an era of greater customisation in automotive fleets, with drivers demanding more models, features and uses for their EVs. This will lead to a whole new test market for EV adoption going forward, helping to define new sets of demographics, geographies and feature sets that will bend all previous consumer-driven rules.

•  V2X (vehicle-to-everything communication) will ramp up quickly, heading for hyper-drive by 2026. Vehicles will talk to other vehicles, then move to interacting with infrastructure, with pedestrians and other elements of the environment. But this means addressing the challenges of rapid data capture, transfer and access, potentially using smart algorithms that speed analytics and predictive capability.

•  Auto designers will need to move antennae position in all designs to ensure efficient communication with the many new technologies that will need to talk to the vehicle.

•  2022 will likely see a delay in providing these full features due to ongoing chip shortages, forcing auto makers to keep buyers engaged and interested with creative solutions that rely on connected devices and fast data in the short term – and offering the promise of leap-frogged advancements once chipsets become available.

Industry 4.0

Factory floor – Kelly McCartney, Director Corporate Strategy; Robotics – Lee Ettleman, Director Corporate Development; Start-ups & innovation – Lily Yeung, Vice President, Molex Ventures

•  Smart factories will start to become a reality, with more flexible architectures, broader implementation of sensors and cross-organisational leverage of consolidated sensor data, enabling industrial automation stakeholders to raise visibility and monitoring of the entire facility, while increasing production line innovations and operational efficiencies.

•  Manufacturers will reduce dependencies on rigid hardware, while increasing implementation and use of both stationary and mobile robots, so they are able to support more automated material handling, pick-and-place and eventually reconfigurable production lines to support the manufacturing of custom products.

•  2022 will see a dramatic rise in robots. The labour shortage, new minimum wage requirements, continued e-commerce growth and inflation will accelerate robotic adoption, bringing new robotic technologies from their initial locations in the warehouse to more areas of the factory floor – or even beginning to foray into retail stores and restaurants.

•  As mobile robotics and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) grow in importance, so too will adoption of 5G private networks over traditional wired ethernet, to support wireless low-latency, high-bandwidth, secure communications.

•  Some of 2022’s top investment trends will focus on technologies enabling next generation infrastructure upgrades and leapfrogs in related technology, such as 6G, quantum computing, energy and power to increase efficiency and support sustainability.

Supply chain

Don Hnatyshin, SVP Supply Chain

•  As the next generation of buyers and engineers enter the commercial world and begin to influence the way business is transacted, service level expectations in the B2B (business-to-business) commercial environment will rise to match the B2C (business-to-consumer) customer experience. This will require customer service and supply chain professionals to respond with agility and speed throughout the entire transaction from initial contact to delivery. The demand for a B2C experience, in concert with the recent supply chain disruptions, will drive advancement in software, AI and ML, as well as increase machine-to-machine (M2M) types of interactions (no human intervention from demand signal to fulfilment) at some global manufacturing sites.

•  Advanced supply chain tools will be adopted at rapid speed to provide the higher level of agility and reaction times the supply chain demands, especially in such a dynamic market impacted by freight and logistics log jams, unplanned disruptions from COVID and challenging market dynamics.  Companies will need to leverage new tools, such as “autonomous planning”, which can be more responsive than humans (based on algorithms developed with human expertise) for activities such as modelling and scenario planning, once the algorithms are developed and calibrated. Additionally, “network optimisation” tools will provide similar capabilities to execute responsible global manufacturing, operations and supply chains.  Many of these models require the development of “digital twins” (digital models to replicate the physical footprint or activity), to enable more AI/ML options and added efficiencies in the future.

•  Companies will invest more strategically to “optimise their global footprint” (encompassing manufacturing, operations, sales & logistics and distribution centres) to be finely tuned to trade routes and changes, tariff adjustments and physical locations of customers’ manufacturing operations or manufacturing partners such as EMS (electronics manufacturing services) companies. This philosophy will continue to drive supply chains to be increasingly more nimble, agile and highly responsive to real-time changes in demand and supply.


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