Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, practically every manufacturing vertical is facing significant supply chain challenges. For electronics manufacturers in particular, this is causing major business disruptions and impacting revenue opportunities. Automakers are expecting significant losses in revenue, including GM who expects that the losses in production will erase $1.5 to 2 billion from this year.
Because of COVID outbreaks and infections, facilities across the globe were forced to slow down or stop production entirely due to labor shortages and lockdown measures and have not been able to rebound quickly enough to keep up with rising demand. For manufacturers, this is enough of a problem; they’re not able to produce as many devices as pre-pandemic levels.
But this slow down is also creating supply chain issues with sky-high demand for specific components – putting further pressure on production levels. For many electronics applications, this is driving up costs for manufacturers and leading to critical shortages for key components, which is particularly acute in the semiconductor industry.
Device designers can combat shortages and achieve supply versatility by utilizing a sensor-agnostic solution – a solution that provides equivalent features and functions when paired with sensors from multiple different suppliers. By utilizing specialized sensor fusion software or a dedicated processor that supports multiple sensor options, manufacturers have the flexibility to choose between multiple suppliers therefore adding robustness to their design and supply chain.
Supply Chain Challenges for Electronics Manufacturers
What are some of the biggest supply chain issues that electronics manufacturers are grappling with?
- Supply chain uncertainty and shortages: COVID-19 is limiting manufacturing growth potential because of absenteeism and factory shutdowns due to sanitization processes and labor shortages. This is a consistent pain point as demand for electronic goods remains strong as people continue to attend virtual school, work, and gatherings. It’s a simple reality that people need devices to make all of that happen.
Despite this demand, manufacturing output is 3.8% below pre-pandemic levels, and supply chain gridlock is driving up costs at a time when their goods are in high demand. COVID-19 is expected to continue impacting the supply chain for electronics components through 2021, so this isn’t a problem that’s on its way out.
- Supply chain visibility: Along with outright shortages, manufacturers are also having trouble gaining full visibility into supply lines. This struggle is especially pertinent not just for first-tier suppliers but second- and third-tier as well.
Visibility was an issue pre-pandemic, but through digitization, manufacturers can get a clearer picture of supply vulnerabilities and proactively combat them. They need to deploy tools that give them this visibility into where their components and raw materials are coming from, so they can ensure they’ll have what they need down the road.
- Inventory shortages: As manufacturers struggle with sourcing components, they’re being forced to use up inventory surpluses. While waiting on a component or raw material from a specific supplier, they can only sell what products they already had on hand.
In the automotive industry, manufacturers are being forced to cut production because their inventory has dwindled down completely, and they’re waiting on components for microprocessors and other semiconductor chips. Manufacturers across all industry verticals are in direct competition with each other for these components.
Taking a Sensor Agnostic Approach
Since these supply chain issues are expected to persist, electronics manufacturers need to be mindful of the software and components they’re using, and how well they can adapt to changing and challenged supplies.
If you’re a device manufacturer in the consumer electronics space, it’s likely you’ve chosen to source sensors from a single supplier and even chosen a specific part number based on your particular needs and price point. But by doing so, your production capability is susceptible to the supply chain shortages and uncertainty currently plaguing the industry.
As you grapple with these supply chain challenges, now is the time to make sure you’re leveraging sensor-agnostic platforms, so that you can source sensors from multiple suppliers without sacrificing performance and continue to meet your customers’ high demands.
With a strong understanding of sensor characteristics, you can be confident in the expected output of each of the sensors you qualify. And ensure a robust product that can work with multiple sensors. To understand them at a deep enough level to create a sensor-agnostic solution takes niche expertise and understanding. Unfortunately, it is a timely and complex endeavor.
CEVA has spent over 15 years studying sensors and their characteristics to create a robust software solution designed to maximize performance from multiple tier-1 sensor vendors. For example, CEVA’s MotionEngine™ software supports sensors from industry leaders such as Bosch-Sensortec, ST Microelectronics, and TDK-InvenSense. This gives you the peace of mind to know that your products, and supply lines, are resilient. Our software allows you crucial sensor capability through a flexible API, while handling the sensor drivers and calibration. The only change you’ll need to make is the footprint on the circuit board or lay out the board with two sensor footprints to enable production changes on the fly.
If you need a hardware solution now, CEVA’s FSP200 is a 6-axis sensor hub chip that allows you to use the sensor of your choice (from a list of multiple sensor vendors), giving you more supply chain versatility both during and post-pandemic. With our flexibility to integrate sensors from top suppliers while achieving high-accuracy, time-tested performance, CEVA provides you a solution as varied as the industries we serve.
Sidestep shortages and stay on top of rising demand. Contact us to learn more about what CEVA can do for you.
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