Considerations for electronics manufacturing in 2022

We are heading towards a ‘smarter’ world at lightning speed. So, in 2022 and beyond, technology will continue to evolve and improve its capabilities to deliver personalised, mechanised solutions that will optimise functions and enhance our day-to-day lives.

Industry 4.0 is taking the digital revolution of the late 1900s one step further, combining cyber-physical systems with the power of the internet of things (IoT) to automate computerised decision-making and enhance efficiency. As a result, intelligent technology has surpassed the simple tools and gadgets people enjoy using every day; it has become a driving force for innovation and problem-solving for businesses worldwide.

However, Brexit, the pandemic and labour shortages have impacted supply chains and threatened to stunt the industry’s ability to keep up with ever-increasing demand. And unfortunately, even as coronavirus restrictions abate and organisations begin returning to business-as-usual, delays and shortages have rolled over into 2022.

As a result, the future of electrical engineering will depend on the industry’s ability to address the technical and logistical considerations for delivering these advanced systems and equipment.

Curbing disruption for global supply chains

The cost of materials, components, labour and transportation have continued to rise with inflation and the demand for electronics in recent years.

Due to unprecedented competition for containers and reduced capacity, freight prices have spiked, further compounding price hikes along the supply chain. Plus, businesses face the additional administrative costs of Brexit paperwork and logistics — all whilst managing the labour shortages affecting almost every sector.

A chip shortage has also caused problems for several industries, especially consumer electronics and automotive manufacturers. The majority of semiconductor chip production happens in Taiwan, China and South Korea. As coronavirus first gained a foothold in East Asia, the pandemic has caused ongoing delays in chip production, significantly increasing lead times for suppliers and end-consumers.

Experts predict that the consequences of recent events will continue to impact global supply chains in 2022. Although it may be some time before we begin to see significant improvements in the semiconductor shortage, organisations and governments are planning to boost chip manufacturing capacity regionally and globally to help manufacturers meet growing demands.

Reconsidering ‘just-in-time’ logistics management

Shipping bottlenecks, price hikes and materials and labour shortages have caused widespread disruption in the wake of Brexit and the pandemic. For the engineering and manufacturing sectors, which have endured the brunt of unprecedented levels of disruption, this has prompted examinations of the integrity of traditional ‘just-in-time’ supply chain models.

This model is designed to generate enough supply for demand, boost capital efficiency and minimise financial risk and overproduction. But recent shortages have exposed the flaws in western nations’ dependence on resources from China and other eastern distributors for just-in-time supply chain security. As such, the need for more resilient supply chains is driving the resurgence of the ‘just-in-case’ model: another procurement philosophy that involves suppliers keeping excess inventory to prevent stockouts and ride out periods of uncertainty.

There are some drawbacks to a just-in-case model, such as the cost of storing extra stock, maintaining unused inventory and potentially generating more waste. However, having a constant supply of available materials and products is one of the safest ways to secure supply chains in the event of a sudden change in demand. The key to future-proofing supply chains lies in a bespoke approach to stock management and ensuring electronics manufacturers remain adaptable in the face of change.

Ensuring safety in high-risk environments

Manufacturers also have a duty to ensure their products meet specific quality standards. However, quality does not just apply to the final product; it should be at the heart of operations — from order receipt right through to delivering a finished, quality-assured product.

To ensure quality at every stage, continual review of manufacturing processes and governance of all facilities through a quality management system (QMS) are essential. As a result, manufacturing products for demanding sectors such as oil, gas and water or industrial and building controls require strong technical and logistics support capabilities. Products must also comply with rigorous safety legislations to ensure they are robust and reliable enough to function optimally and endure under the harshest conditions.

The key applicable legislation here is ATEX: a European directive designed to ensure the use of electronic or electrical equipment of any type is certified for use in hazardous environments. The ruling applies to any facilities where an explosion could occur due to the use and presence of combustible materials in the air. ATEX applies to companies that design, manufacture or sell any equipment intended for use in potentially explosive environments. The directive also accounts for electrical and mechanical sources of ignition.

Within the EU, compliance with the ATEX Directive (2014/34/EU) is required. In other markets, the IECEx Equipment Certification Scheme applies.

EC Electronics’ commitment to quality

It has been a challenging few years for electronics manufacturers, which have had to meet sharp increases in demand for innovative technology amidst a series of unprecedented international events. One manufacturer that is up to the task is EC Electronics.

EC Electronics is dedicated to reinforcing robust, sustainable and flexible supply chains throughout its business operations. Over nearly four decades, it has built a reputation on exceeding its customers’ expectations — a reputation the company maintains through investment in its people, infrastructure, technical competence and quality processes.

EC Electronics’ Quality Management System is certified to EN ISO/IEC 80079-34:2018 in line with IECEx and the ATEX Directive 2014/34/EU, ensuring products and manufacturing processes meet the requirements for products certified for use in potentially explosive atmospheres. The company works with trusted global suppliers and partners to source materials as locally as possible and identify any factors that might impact the supply chain at any stage. By doing so, it can continue setting realistic expectations and reduce the impact of price hikes and delays on its customers.

EC Electronics is a leading electronics manufacturing services company operating in the UK and Europe. For further information about EC Electronics’ products and services, visit

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