The electronics manufacturing industry has been changing rapidly over the past few years. This has meant that many companies have had difficulty keeping up. While there have been a variety of changes, there are a few that look to continue making an impact in the coming years.
Because of the large impact that these may have, every company in the sector should be aware of how they may be affected.
Trends In The Industry
Internet Of Things
The electronics industry as a whole has been increasingly embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) sphere. This is the interconnection of different pieces of equipment and appliances that are connected through an internet connection.
The electronics manufacturing industry has been leveraging this technology in a variety of ways, each of which has had unique benefits. Prominent among these has been cost reduction, product innovation, increased efficiency, and improved safety.
The development of this has been driven by three pre-existing technologies, with the internet being the most obvious. Alongside this has been cloud computing and smaller sensors, which have allowed more devices to be quickly and easily interconnected.
The majority of businesses have been able to make informed decisions based on the real-time information that these devices can provide. Coupled with other technological innovations, this can help drive more efficient short-term and long-term decisions.
Equipment breakdown can wreak havoc with a company’s production schedule. This results in a significant loss in revenues, especially when repairs may take a large amount of time. This can make prevention a priority for the majority of businesses.
One of the more increasingly common ways of doing so has been with predictive maintenance. This has been done with a variety of technologies, depending on which equipment a company is using. The widespread adoption of this technology has had a domino effect on a variety of areas.
While avoiding the costs associated with downtime is obvious, there are a few other savings. Chief among these is a reduced maintenance and repair cost, which is enhanced by equipment being more long-lasting.
Much of this is done in conjunction with IoT technology, which can monitor the health of equipment. Coupled with data collection, this can predict when and how a piece of equipment may fail, allowing business owners to avoid it.
Shifting From B2B To B2B2C
Traditionally, many electronics manufacturers have had a business-to-business (B2B) approach to operating. In recent years, this has been shifting to business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) model, which allows manufacturers to sell directly to consumers.
This has allowed for a variety of benefits. Prominent among these has been an increased profit, as companies can avoid factoring in a retailer. It also provides a faster time to market, which many firms may want to take advantage of.
This is enhanced by better consumer data, which allows manufacturers to tweak their products or services, which provides better customer relationships. Brand control can also play a factor here, as companies have more input into all areas of their sales.
To take advantage of these benefits, a business will need to leverage existing e-commerce platforms and logistics divisions.
Leveraging The Supply Chain
Being competitive in the industry is something that every company will need to focus on. This can be done in a variety of ways, with one trend pointing toward the supply chain, as more businesses aim to avoid constant price reduction.
More innovative technology across the logistics field has meant that companies can improve areas across their entire supply chain. In turn, this has allowed for a reduction in costs in several key areas. Furthermore, it has provided electronics manufacturers to operate their business more efficiently.
This encourages a greater degree of flexibility, which allows the majority of companies to become more adaptable to changing market demands. There have been a few areas where firms have been able to see this, including sales and operations planning, logistics optimization, and inventory control.
Recommended reading: The Best Supply Chain and Logistics Software
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is one of the core factors in keeping a company competitive and lean, which is something that many businesses have been seeing in the past several years. This offers a few benefits.
The first of these is that it allows a firm to automate and optimize their processes using real-time information. This has the domino effect of reducing operational costs and preventing choke points throughout their operations.
ERP operations have also allowed electronics manufacturers to make quicker decisions that are often much more accurate. While these systems were often difficult and time-consuming to implement, recent technological advances have made this much easier while increasing reliability.
These can often be much more affordable and quicker to implement than their traditional counterparts, further feeding into their use.
Big data has traditionally been exclusively used by larger companies. Much of this was driven by the fact that it was often inaccessible to small to medium-sized businesses. This is no longer the case, thanks to recent advances with IoT and other technologies.
Much of this is because companies are now able to draw information from a wide range of sources. These advances have also meant that big data has become much more usable than it traditionally was.
As a result, electronics manufacturers have been able to use this information in a variety of ways. Much of this is seen in the reduction of operational costs while increasing profit margins and market share.
This is driven by management being able to form a more comprehensive understanding of the business. As a result, they’re able to overcome any problems while predicting and avoiding any future challenges.
VR & AR
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have become increasingly more useful in several capacities. Much of this can be seen in the design phase of products, as VR can be increasingly integrated with computer-aided design.
This allows designers to make more accurate and reliable changes to a product before the production phase begins. As a result, there have been a few areas that this has been beneficial. For example, designers can make modifications to products quickly.
Alongside this is a reduced inspection time, as workers are better able to identify and fix errors before a product is made. This results in a reduced cost, both in terms of labor and the production of inaccurate or poorly designed products.
Manufacturers have seen a variety of benefits from the use of 3D printing, with reduced production costs being one of the most notable. This makes prototyping much quicker while allowing designers to troubleshoot and test their products quickly.
Alongside this is the avoidance of large-scale production, as well as the need for warehousing. Traditionally, this process was time-consuming and often relatively expensive, both of which are reduced significantly with 3D printers.
While this may require a large up-front investment, it has been paying a large number of long-term dividends. It also allows for tooling to be completed on-site, which can reduce costs further.
3D printing allows for products to be created on-demand, which means that companies can experiment with more designs without needing a large investment.
Reshoring has been somewhat of an unexpected trend in recent years and has been affected by a variety of factors. Much of this is driven by more active economies across the world, which has increased the cost of operations in many countries, which has increased wages.
In countries which still have relatively low wages, key infrastructure often isn’t in place, which provides several challenges. Alongside this is increased transportation costs, which have encouraged companies to bring many of their operations back to the United States.
Another key role in this has been the rise of robotics, which has offset many of the costs associated with manufacturing in the U.S.
Difficulty Finding Employees
Increased use of technology has been one of the defining trends in many industries. However, training in this technology hasn’t kept up the pace, which has led to a skill shortage in many niches. This includes the electronics manufacturing field.
As a result, many companies have had difficulty filling many of their vacancies. There are two ways that firms have been attempting to overcome this problem, with the first being to offer training to prospective hires.
One of the more creative ways that businesses have been aiming to do so has been by making themselves more appealing to candidates who are pre-trained in this technology. This has included data scientists, computer coders, and more.
10 Must Know Statistics
These trends have meant that there are a variety of factors changing the industry. There are several key statistics that have been highlighted as a result of this. Some of the most notable include:
- Hourly downtime is affecting the majority of businesses, with 98% saying that it costs them $100,000 or more per hour.
- Predictive maintenance could reduce costs by 20%.
- Unplanned outages could be avoided with predictive maintenance by up to 50%.
- The majority of large companies, 72% require 99.99% minimum uptime.
- The industry is expected to grow by roughly 8% by 2025.
- 50% of IoT spending is set to be focused on transportation, logistics and discrete costs.
- 40% of IoT customers prefer dealing with a pre-established company.
- 63% of companies believe that investing in IoT devices will increase profitability.
- Three-quarters of companies will have digitized their supply changes by 2020.
- Close to a third of companies have already implemented IoT into their devices.
Knowledge can be key when it comes to planning for the future. This means that every business should ensure they know what looks to affect the industry in the coming years. By doing so, they’ll be able to adapt and overcome any potential challenges before they affect business too severely.