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Growth in the widening consumer electronics sectors fuels increasing demand for passive components

Currently, we are experiencing a strong growth in demand for a wide range of passive components. Some application sectors have seen greater growth than others particularly those where consumer end product adoption has been strong.

For example, while we have been experiencing demands from the mobile handset market for some time now, the increasing popularity of smart phones has resulted in a substantial growth for our products. A smart phone uses 3 or 4 times as many capacitors as a basic GSM phone and since the phones operate on multiple frequency bands they also require many more RF filters. It is not so long ago that a mobile phone only had Bluetooth connectivity but today it's Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS and even FM transmitters. Always "on" connectivity is becoming normal.

Another sector enjoying greater than average demand is automotive. Across the world, automobile manufacturers are increasing the electronics content of their models in order to satisfy consumer need. And that is not just in the premium brands but in everyday cars too. Now, popular family-oriented automotive brands are including SatNav, parking assistance, cruise control, infotainment systems and mobile handset pairing as standard in many models. We also see some interesting trends in individual economies, such as what is happening in China. Here the dramatic increase of personal wealth is creating a surge in demand for premium car sales in the short to medium term that, in turn, is fuelling a strong growth on the production volumes of these cars in Europe.

Renewable energy and energy conservation applications are driving demand within the industrial sector and appear across the board from inverters for solar energy and wind turbines to transmission and distribution initiatives such as smart grids.

For Murata, our prime objective is to deliver customer satisfaction. Reliable and consistent delivery of product is a key criterion. We continue to invest in our supply chain management capabilities so as to be able to deliver any product to any location in the world as efficiently as possible. We are also increasing our production volumes, but it is not just about being able to deliver products in a timely manner. We strive to understand the broader issues that our customers may be having, and to anticipate, understand and help solve their headaches. In short, we aim for a more engaging, partnership-based approach across all areas of our service. An example of that is how we will co-operate with our customer and their other component suppliers, and we will introduce our own selected partners such as system integrators and / or software partners to smooth out both technical and commercial aspects of a customer's need. Interoperability of technology is vital and we endeavour to take a holistic approach to how we can achieve customer satisfaction. This particular aspect of our customer service is increasing in importance and we are establishing more strategic alliances to achieve this. Take our hybrid resonators for example. Working with our partner we have been able to deliver a product into the market that is approximately the cost of a resonator but with the performance of a crystal, or our approach with our RfiD chip (Magicstrap) which is to work with system integrators and software providers to tailor a solution that satisfies a customer's specific requirement, whether it be more efficient control of production or supply chain management or anti-counterfeit activity. Also, innovation continues within our business. Many will think of us as manufacturing capacitors only from ceramic material, but our portfolio is expanding to include other technologies such as with EDLC super capacitors and polymer aluminium capacitors too. This supports our customers in their efforts to reduce the number of suppliers that they have to deal with, and therefore their overhead costs.

In the middle to long term, and hoping for no global economic shocks, we see the outlook as very positive for passive components. A broad range of sectors from automotive, energy conservation, data communications and wireless are all experiencing what we feel is a consistent and strong demand for our products.

Author profile:
Terry Churcher is president, Murata Europe

Terry Churcher

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