This article appeared in Electronic Design and has been published here with permission.
What you’ll learn:
- How the surging demand for electronics and technologies is creating growth opportunities for EMS providers.
- The role advanced technologies such as AI and automation play in enhancing the outlook of the EMS industry.
The advent of digital computers and their subsequent progress and integration into the mainstream since the 1990s has played a huge role in popularizing electronics usage. Modern electronic devices have long transcended the capacities of their predecessors, becoming increasingly more economical, available, and diverse over the past few decades.
As the complexities associated with component miniaturization and electronic assembly continue to surge, so will the penetration of the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) market in the years ahead. EMS involves a range of processes for design, assembly, manufacturing, and testing of electronic components for OEMs (original equipment manufacturers).
Electronics manufacturing services can be contracted at any given point during the production process. Depending on individual requirements, EMS can provide companies with something as simple as design files from customers prior to the development, component sourcing, assembly, and testing of the product, or more complex solutions including the design, manufacturing components, and an assembled prototype.
High demand for advanced electronic gadgets and equipment across the industrial arena has pushed authorities across the globe to initiate strategies favorable to electronics manufacturing activities. For instance, in India, several new schemes have been introduced to promote electronics manufacturing. They include the PIL (production linked incentive), which has been held in high regard by numerous stakeholders, as well as the SPECs (Scheme for Promotion of Manufacturing of Components and Semiconductors), which is aimed at boosting component manufacturing in the region.
Emerging Technologies Revolutionize Manufacturing Processes
As technology evolves, the size of components and circuits generally becomes progressively smaller. Consequently, such miniaturization has made electronics manufacturing an increasingly complex process—higher component density, multiple layers, smaller pitches, delicate parts, and precise placements, among other concerns.
With the demand for novel features and products ramping up in recent years, manufacturers are turning to more innovative and sophisticated technological solutions to streamline their production processes. Smart technology, for example, is being adopted across the industrial spectrum, opening up many lucrative avenues for electronics manufacturers. Constant developments in IoT, touted as a “technological renaissance,” have revolutionized production processes and enhanced efficiency.
Prominent within this renaissance is the integration of automation or robotics in the manufacturing space. Studies suggest that over 1.8 million robots were active in manufacturing roles by the end of 2016, with some stating that advanced robots may account for 35% to 45% production by 2030.
Electronics production is seeing massive traction in the adoption of advanced robots, thanks to their ability to execute tasks at better precision levels. For example, use of surface-mount technology (SMT) in EMS enables seamless assembly of components, with automated machines used to place them on the surface of boards.
On that front, ASM, considered a leading player in SMT manufacturing, has created an Integrated Smart SMT Factory designed to cater to a global customer and industry network. Powerful, integrated software and hardware systems are prominent parts of the company’s electronics manufacturing services. They’re designed to facilitate better flexibility, productivity, and quality across applications spanning virtual production, process optimization, material management, factory monitoring, factory integration, and more.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another transformative technology in electronics manufacturing services, fundamentally changing the way machines function and communicate. AI has helped streamline and automate electronics production by considerably reducing costs, adding novel features, and generating lucrative revenue streams.
For example, Continental added an AI-based simulation program to its production process. It’s proved to be tremendously useful in accelerating and advancing testing of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and other electronic systems in automotive applications—the program can produce over 5,000 miles of vehicle test data each hour.
Strategic Initiatives Characterize Growth as Electronics Demand Surges
Collaborations, mergers, agreements, and other strategic initiatives are becoming increasingly more prevalent among OEMs, EMS providers, original design manufacturers (ODMs), and stakeholders as they work to adapt to the rapid transitions occurring in the manufacturing space.
To illustrate, in 2019, the eMobility division of Eaton, a power-management company, revealed its decision to partner with global manufacturing services firm Jabil. The alliance is aimed at boosting the production of PCB and electromechanical assemblies.
A similar initiative took place this year when CalcuQuote, a provider of quoting and supply-chain software for EMS companies, partnered with quick-turn PCB assembly pioneer Advanced Assembly to expand software functionality and streamline manufacturing processes through digital innovations.
Saloni Walimbe is a Content Writer for Global Market Insights Inc.