The electronic manufacturing industry is generally considered a front runner in terms of leading technological advances, both in introducing new ideas and implementing them in their products. He industry is jam-packed with both opportunities and challenges, and those who can balance the two sides of successful operation are bound to lead the competition. Let’s investigate some of the top trends, with the benefits and challenges which accompany them.
Rise of “Smart” Devices
Reflecting the overall increase in connectivity throughout the world, IoT solutions are rapidly being implemented in manufacturing facilities. From streamlined asset tracking to connected systems which maintain a steady stream of data throughout production, EMS providers are better able to monitor the extensive production process involved in today’s complicated electronics manufacturing industry. The increase in “smart” devices improves efficiency, reducing human error and the time from design to final production. The improved analytics allow EMS companies to create intelligent solutions and fine-tune their processes with real-time data.
The Challenge: With an overload of data, EMS companies are facing the challenge of how to aggregate and leverage the overwhelming amount of information efficiently. Investing in software which can utilize the right data for the specific operation, a trained workforce which can analyze and respond to the information, and business processes which allow for better decision making will remain a challenge for many EMS providers.
Rapid Increase in Technology in Medical Devices
As medical devices have become smaller and sensor-focused, the need for consolidation in manufacturing has risen. With a new focus on prevention, devices are in demand to be used not by medical providers, but by patients themselves, allowing them to monitor their own health care with data gathered from smaller and smarter devices. Focusing on the use of sensors has led manufacturers to reduce costs by consolidating processes, allowing them to produce devices quickly and utilizing the latest technology, getting items to the public at breakneck speed.
The advance technology for IoT and connectivity found in other industries has allowed non-medical manufacturing companies to enter the market easily, transferring their knowledge of connectivity to medical device design. The increasing demand by consumers to manage their healthcare provides manufacturers with the motivation to expand into medical and other personal-use based EMS production.
The Challenge: The shift from provider-led to patient-led consumer demand will require medical EMS companies to be nimble enough to make modifications for general public use while still creating devices which have longer life-spans, reflecting the value which users expect to find in the devices, no matter the rapid revolution in technology.
Electronic Devices Becoming “Greener”
Since the use of electronics has increased more rapidly than the framework can handle, there is a dire need for recyclable electronic components. Citizens in every country are stating to consider how they can make a smaller impact on the earth, and subsequently look to manufacturers to follow suit. In addition, the decreasing size and increasing complexity of electronic devices means here are fewer pieces which can be re-purposed.
The Challenge: Government regulations are expected to continue tightening, compelling manufacturers to look for new ways to reduce the use of known pollutant inputs, increase the use of renewable resources, and to facilitate recycling efforts, all while protecting the data of consumers. There are likely to be initial costs to companies while implementing green practices; manufacturers will be forced to implement new cost-saving practices in the process but should see decreases in energy consumption and improved reputations as they are recognized by consumers for their efforts.
Shift in Approach to Overseas Manufacturing
The electronics manufacturing landscape has shifted, and the U.S. has become more attractive than in recent years. Outsourcing to Asia is not as financially advantageous anymore as technological advances in both manufacturing and the products being created themselves. The automation capabilities found on American soil offsets much of the discounts found in foreign wages and other costs. More complicated electronics are designed, tested, and manufactured by a skilled workforce, utilizing technologically advanced processes, reliable shipping logistics, and “good old” innovation. The U.S. ticks all the boxes, and companies are leveraging these benefits with the slight discount (it is only 5% more than Asian manufacturing, according to The Boston Consulting Group)
Additionally, consumer confidence plays a part in the decision to reshoring electronics manufacturing. Consumers do look for “Made in the USA” labeling, and the current administration has touted the nationwide benefits of domestic manufacturing. If we are truly the most technologically advanced country in the world, why not manufacture electronic products to the largest consumer group?
The Challenge: Any time you switch EMS providers, there will be concerns regarding logistics and expenses. Preparing for changes can include a modification of business processes, meetings, market research, and some investment of time and resources. Planning for the time period when you are moving will allow you to “weather” the challenging time period.
Trends Are Just That…Trends
Trends can be defined as a general direction or development, a tendency within development. Since the electronics manufacturing industry is advancing rapidly, the trends could change with a breakthrough in new technology. Establishing a relationship with a world-class EMS provide like SMC Manufacturing Services increases your ability to stay at the top of your industry, offering quality electronic products in an efficient and consistent manner, and saving money while meeting the challenges found in manufacturing.