EMS for High Mix/Low Volume Successful from Start to Finish

The smart factory is already a reality for electronics service providers in many places and has accelerated high mix/low volume production in the DACH region.

But “smartization” not only has a positive effect on production, it also ensures full order books.

The DACH region (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) is probably the most innovative location for electronics production in the high mix/low volume sector and also shapes the “Made in Germany” label. Networking in the supply chain and a high degree of automation in the factories are important prerequisites for electronics service providers and EMS companies (EMS: Electronics Manufacturing Services) to continue this success story in the future and be able to generate competitive advantages. Digitalization is an opportunity to strengthen customer loyalty, but it also brings added value for EMS companies, because they are always driven by speed, flexibility and warehouse optimization. Anyone who, with the help of digitalization, solves this well is excellently positioned in Europe. Besides the numerous optimizations, which Industry 4.0 holds for networked manufacturing, applications involving the Internet of Things (IoT) are proving to be top sellers on the market. This means that electronics service providers can also look forward to increasing sales from this segment. IoT is a megatrend – also for electronics service providers. The applications that can be encompassed under IoT range from smart home to medical technology.

The good news here is that many parts of the smart home are not cheap, mass-produced goods and, therefore, also enable central European electronics service providers to participate in this market – this is confirmed by the EMS companies surveyed by Markt&Technik. In the DACH region or Europe, EMS companies will hardly be able to participate in IoT applications with very high volumes. The smart home, on the other hand, offers potential for local electronics service providers. This is also because companies, which previously had nothing to do with electronics, are involved with the smart home.

According to some EMS companies, smart medical technology is also a promising market for the EMS industry in the DACH region. This includes, for example, smart applications, with the help of which patients can use mobile monitoring of their state of health, as well as fitness tracking devices and life science. Many start-ups position themselves in this segment – some of them are particularly promising because they combine experienced professionals from major companies with young talents. Prospects for the EMS industry to generate further growth in various facets and markets from the Internet of Things (IoT) are very good. Many companies outside the industry are involved with the IoT and need design support through to the new product introduction (NPI) process, and building the right supply chain and the components market. In these issues, the EMS is the optimization partner for newcomers and start-ups. “EMS is the hub of the IoT. We build the devices, we use the devices, we communicate to our suppliers and customers with the devices – with us, the IoT comes together in its entirety,” summarizes Sebastian Grundmann, Business Unit Director at Asteelflash.

Many of the projects running worldwide at Asteelflash are digitalization projects. The aim of these is to increase the synergies between the stations in the supply chain. This refers to the technical communications to distributors and customers as well as between the factories. According to Sebastian Grundmann, Asteelflash wants to further increase transparency in the supply chain. Digitalization is also at the very top of the agenda for the medium-sized company Grundig Business Systems (GBS), according to Roland Hollstein, Managing Director of GBS: “As a small EMS, I can also confirm this trend. We start digitally with a reader device in incoming goods and the digitalization runs right through to outgoing goods. Today, we already enable some customers a remote view of the machines in our factory. For example, they can see what status the product has reached.”

At GBS, this remote service has developed from the traceability and is now being expanded further throughout the value creation chain. “The more flexibility and digitalization the company has, the better we can react to customer requirements,” emphasizes Roland Hollstein. Digitalization or – often used synonymously – Industry 4.0 has already been long since implemented in various forms in production at Zollner Elektronik. For example, in the form of digital simulation: Processes from development and production through to logistics are digitally simulated. “This improves value streams and gives the customer transparency over every step in the process,” explains Johann Weber, CEO of Zollner Elektronik. Overall, Johann Weber has given the electronics industry very good marks in terms of networking – in other words, digitalization: It has an advantage of at least 10 years over mechanics.