Contract Manufacturing

Not so long ago, companies manufactured the products they designed. But times change and most electronics companies will outsource the manufacture of their products.

Economics pushed this manufacture towards the Far East for consumer products and to eastern Europe for industrial products. But the UK retains a vibrant contract manufacturing sector, which is supporting the ‘reshoring’ of manufacturing.

In this section, New Electronics brings visitors updates and opinions from the contract manufacturing market.

Low cost of money fuelling ‘M&A frenzy’

So far this year, semiconductor companies have spent around $85billion on acquiring other companies, something which Wally Rhines – Mentor Graphics’ chairman and CEO – notes is ‘dramatically more than in previous years’. And it looks as though the spending is set to continue, with rumours involving Fairchild, Infineon, On Semi, Analog Devices and Maxim Integrated.

Move to 3D flash memory set to boost prospects of SSDs

Developers of memory devices of all types have generally been the first customers for the latest process technology. A combination of the need to make memories with greater capacity at lower prices has pushed manufacturers to the ‘bleeding edge’. That combination of dynamics has also pushed some manufacturers ‘over the edge’ and the remainder into joint ventures that can cope with the commercial and technical challenges.

1D to 3D HMI solutions

Just a few years ago Touch revolutionised input: mechanical buttons, keyboards and sliders were replaced by static plastic or metal surfaces. It meant that operator interfaces could be incorporated into a device, and unobtrusive and modern design became increasingly common on the factory floor. Capacitive touch is based on a capacitor whereby the human finger acts as the actuator for the capacitor. Ingenious designs also enable proximity switches to be implemented as well. In this case the control system is only active shortly before it is activated, reducing energy consumption. This is known as ‘1D’ input.

Compliance with global battery standards: does it have to be painful?

From a purely technical point of view, it seems reasonable to suggest that a battery which is safe to use in one country is equally safe in any other country. After all, it is not as if the control circuitry in a battery pack or the chemistry of the cells undergoes any magical change as it crosses a national border.

Minimising costs for wire-to-board connections

Wire-to-board connections incur high costs when handling large quantities in mass markets. However, using the right connection technology this expense can be prevented. It's often worth considering the use of tried-and-tested technologies that enable cables and circuit boards to be connected at little cost.

When it comes to securing the future of authentication finding a solution that is both simple and strong is crucial

The biggest challenge historically in the high-stakes, cat-and-mouse game between hackers and security/authentication solutions is that stronger authentication solutions tend to create troublesome and annoying user experiences. And any solution that’s not stronger than the previous ones is, almost by definition, not up to the task of stopping attacks. Finding a solution that’s both simple and strong has been elusive.

Could Industry 4.0 change forever the way in which manufacturers operate?

Industry 4.0 – or the Industrial Internet of Things – is on the verge of radically changing the way in which manufacturers operate. The approach is expected to pave the way towards a future in which smart factories, intelligent machines and networked processes are brought together to encourage greater manufacturing productivity, flexibility and profitability.

Adding value to new product introduction

When the ESCO Report (Electronics Systems: Challenges and Opportunities) was published in 2013, it outlined ambitious aims to grow the UK's electronic systems industry to £120billion by 2020, including the addition of more than 150,000 highly skilled jobs. The report talked of growing the UK's electronics industry by 55%, based on the premise that there would be improvements to supply chains and strategic procurement, the skills pipeline and the industry's ability to identify future growth sectors. What role could the UK's relatively strong EMS/CEM sector play in helping to develop the electronic systems industry?

Cover story: Hot Chips

Counterfeit components are so widespread that there is every chance you will unknowingly already have some in your home gadgets.

Making sensible outsourcing decisions

Offshore manufacturing has its place and, for some OEMs with the right type of product, significant cost savings can be achieved. However, blindly chasing apparently cheaper manufacturing prices can be fraught with danger.

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