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component shortage Electronic Components

Causes of IC Shortage

There’s a serious shortage of integrated circuits affecting every corner of the electronics’ world. Discrete circuits, optoelectronics and sensors are also experiencing shortages, putting pressure on supply chains from top to bottom.

What are the causes of IC shortages? This article will explore the main causes, so that you can understand what’s going on.

Reshaped demand

The Coronavirus pandemic reshaped demand for semiconductors, shifting automotive demand to device demand (car plants shut down, while demand for electronic devices soared with stay at home and remote working).

Now that automotive production is ramping back up, there aren’t enough ICs to go around, causing a shortage across all industry sectors.

The pandemic also caused short-term, unplanned plant shutdowns and labor shortages, reducing the number of ICs manufactured.

Logistics

The logistics industry is still recovering from COVID-induced shutdowns and travel restrictions. While air and sea freight is running at good capacity, road transport is proving difficult across borders, creating supply constraints.

In 2020, air cargo capacity saw a 20% decline. In 2021, it’s back to normal, but you still have the problem of moving components on the ground.

In the USA, there is also a serious driver shortage underway that is affecting everything from electronic components to supermarket shelves.

Lead times

The amount of time that passes between ordering semiconductors and taking delivery has increased to record levels. In July 2021, it surpassed 20 weeks, the highest wait time since the start of the year and eight days longer than June.

Longer lead times can be caused by a variety of factors, but in this case it’s caused by factories running at capacity with no room for acceleration. Labor shortages and problems getting hold of materials are exasperating the problem.

Raw materials

A shortage of raw materials is causing big problems for semiconductor manufacturers, who can’t get the materials they need to meet demand. Shortages of raw materials and high raw material prices are combining to squeeze production.

The soaring price of raw materials is also increasing the prices of ICs, with some components seeing a yearly price increase up to 40%. These costs will eventually be passed on to the consumer who will have to stomach higher prices.

Stockpiling

Whether we’re talking about the communications, automotive or consumer electronics sector, IC stockpiling has exploded. The world’s biggest manufacturers have stockpiled huge quantities of components for themselves.

This hoarding of components by nervous manufacturers eager to secure inventory takes a significant volume of components off the open market, squeezes the supply chain, and gives the biggest players an upper hand over everyone else.   

Trade sanctions

For all their bad press, China makes a lot of chips – around a billion a day. Their biggest chipmaker, SMIC, was hit by US sanctions in late 2020, eliminating SMIC chips from the US market. You’d think this would mean more chips for the rest of the world, but China recoiled and went defensive, keeping most of the chips for themselves.

US sanctions twisted the global supply chain out of shape, creating volatility in an industry that was already in turmoil from the pandemic.

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component shortage

Chip Shortage causing car manufacturers to cut production levels

A week doesn’t pass without an announcement from a car manufacturer that they are cutting production levels. Idling shifts and even entire factories has become normal for an industry that thrives on maximising output. 

Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Toyota have cut production levels to prioritise their most lucrative models. In some cases, plants have shut down for weeks at a time to allow supply chains to catch up to one another.

To understand how big this is, a 1-2 week plant shutdown will cost a car manufacturer millions of pounds at the very least. No manufacturer would willingly do this, but the global chip shortage is forcing them to.

Chip shortage in numbers

Just 53,438 cars rolled off assembly lines in the UK in July 2021, making it the lowest output in the month of July since 1956.

In June 2021, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that car production was down 52.6% on the same month in 2019. Telling us that we’re a long way off reaching pre-pandemic levels.

According to research firm AlixPartners. The chip shortage will collectively cost the auto industry $110 billion in revenue in 2021. A revised figure and an increase of 81.5% over the same firm’s figures in late January.

More telling figures come from Fitch Ratings, who estimate the chip shortage will cost automakers 5% of production. North America and Europe will be the hardest hit, with Asia and China coming in third and fourth respectively.

What’s happening with chips!?

The automotive sector has been hit harder than any other by the chip shortage due to cancelling orders for chips at the start of the pandemic.

Anticipating a slowdown that would last months, most car markers cancelled orders for chips. Semiconductor manufacturers filled order books with orders from companies making smartphones, laptops and other devices.

When the automotive sector bounced back sooner than expected, semiconductor manufacturers had hardly any capacity to meet demand. This has led to the situation today, where car makers can’t secure the inventory they need. 

Now, there are not enough chips, foundries are running at 99% capacity and new foundries take years and billions in investment to set up.

Changing the production line for a chip costs tens of millions and takes months, labour shortages are causing a manpower crisis, and the pandemic is causing short-term factory shutdowns at foundries and fabless plants.

When will the global chip shortage end?

It will take at least five years for the global chip shortage to subside. Assuming investment in new foundries begins in 2021/22. New factories are the only the way out of the shortage because demand for chips is only going to increase.

Opinions on when the shortage will end vary from early 2023 to 2025. The last 18 months has tested supply chains and wreaked havoc on production, but the automotive industry is experienced enough to cope with future problems.

When you need to source hard to find electronic components quickly because of allocation, long lead times, obsolescence or quality issues, contact Lantek Corporation for a fast response to your enquiries and reliable on-time delivery. Our Team are here to help. 

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component shortage Electronic Components

Component Prices Rise 10% to 40% – But why?

While component price increases are expected when demand surpasses supply, the scale of recent increases has come as a shock to many businesses.

In its Q3 Commodity Intelligence Quarterly, CMarket intelligence platform Supplyframe reports that some electronic components have seen prices rise by as much as 40%, making it uneconomical for products to be made.  

Specifically, semiconductors, memory and modems are seeing 10 to 40% price increases, exceeding what most analysts envisioned for 2021.

Why are prices rising?

Price rises start with materials. There are long lead times for many raw materials, causing shortages. Add rising commodity prices and difficulties transporting products and you have a disrupted manufacturing economy.

You also must factor in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused labor shortages and disrupted the manufacturing economy with shutdowns.

Logistics is also a big fly in the ointment for electronic components. The industry is recovering from COVID-induced shutdowns and travel restrictions are causing problems at borders, creating delays that ripple through the supply chain.

Supply and demand

The bulletproof economics of supply and demand also rule the roost for electronic components, and demand is higher than it has ever been.

We are in a situation today where most electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity and can’t keep up with demand.

Demand is outstripping supply for chips, memory and communications components like integrated circuits, discrete circuits, optoelectronics, and sensors creating a bidding war as manufacturers scramble to get what they need.

Growing demand for new technologies

Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, and edge computing are fuelling demand for smarter chips and data center modernization, while technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are demanding infrastructure rollout, which requires significant investment.

Across the board, technology is booming. Manufacturers are making more products for more people, and they must do so while balancing costs at a time when component prices are rising – no easy feat even for established businesses. 

Pressure relief

Everyone is raising prices in line with their own cost increases, from semiconductor manufacturers to outsourced fabs and suppliers. At 10 to 40%, these increases are putting pressure on supply chains and businesses.

How many price increases will target markets absorb? How can we sustain production without significant margin pressure? These are the challenges facing manufacturers, who are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.

There are a few solutions:

  • Equivalents: Source equivalent components from different brands/makers/OEMs that meet size, power, specification, and design standards.
  • Use an electronic components distributor: Distributors are the best-connected players in the industry, able to source hard-to-procure and shortage components thanks to relationships with critical decision makers.

Prices will fizzle down, eventually

Although research published by Supplyframe says pricing challenges will remain through early 2023, they won’t last forever. Price rises should fizzle out towards the end of 2021 as manufacturers catch up to orders and reduce disruption.

If you are experiencing an electronic component shortage, we can help. Email us at sales@lantekcorp.com if you have any questions or call us at 973-579-8100 to talk with our team.

 

 

 

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component shortage Electronic Components

Automotive electronics market set to grow

With vehicles getting smarter, more connected and more autonomous, the automotive electronics market looks set to soar.

Future growth in numbers

Back in March, Precedence Research predicted the automotive electronics market would hit around US$ 640.56 billion by 2030.

Then, in July, Global Market Insights released research predicting the automotive electronics market would hit around US$ 380 billion by 2027.

Interestingly, measured across the same period, both research reports (which are independent) predict a similar growth pattern. Global Market Insights predicts a 6% CAGR, while Precedence Research predicts a CAGR of 7.64% over a 3-year longer period.

With two separate reports indicating significant annual growth. The automotive electronics market looks set to boom. But wait, there’s more.

A 9.3% CAGR is expected in the automotive electronics market by 2030, according to research by P&S Intelligence. They predict slightly less growth than Precedence Research to 2030, at US$ 615.3 billion (versus $640.56 billion).

Growth factors

There are approximately 1,400 chips in a typical vehicle today. Which each chip housing thousands of components on a semiconductor wafer, creating integrated circuits that power computing, memory, and a host of other tasks.

Those are just the chips.

Cars have thousands of other electronic components, including passive, active and  interconnecting electronic components. From batteries, sensors and motors, to displays and cameras. Oh, and everything is connected.

All told, a typical car today has more than 50,000 electronic components that enable features like in-car Wi-Fi, self-parking technology, adaptive headlights, semi-autonomous driving technology, keyless entry, and powered tailgates.

However, cars are getter smarter and more advanced. Electronic components today make up around a third the cost of a car, which will increase over time as more sophisticated and greater numbers of components are used.

Smarter cars need more components  

The future of cars involves electrification, autonomous and self-driving technologies, hyperconnectivity, Internet of Things, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, biometrics and a whole host of next-generation technologies.

How will these be enabled? With electronic components.

Let’s take electrification as an example. An electric car handbook will tell you an electric car has a motor, a battery, an on-board charger, and an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that controls one or more of the electrical systems or subsystems in the vehicle. Together, these let you drive around, charge, and pop to the shops.

In-between these systems, are hundreds of thousands of electronic components that make them work. You see, an Electronic Control Unit is a single component, containing thousands of smaller components, each performing a critical role.

The automotive electronics market is set to soar because cars and other vehicles will need more components with electrification and next-gen technologies. Sometimes, things can be simple to explain, and this is one of those times.

Meeting demand

The electronics industry is facing a global chip and electronic component shortage which is expected to last 2-3 years. As demand for automotive electronics soars, shortages look very likely for certain components like CPUs and memory.

The solution for many companies will be to use an electronics component distributor, to fill gaps in the supply chain and keep things moving.

Electronic component distributors like Lantek can source hard-to-procure components because we have relationships with the best suppliers in the industry. Contact us today with your inquiries at sales@lantekcorp.com or call 1-973-579-8100

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Electronic Components Semiconductor

Why are semiconductors so important to so many industries?

The semiconductor chip has done more to connect the world than any other technology, but why is it so important to so many industries?  

Semiconductors are materials used to make semiconductor wafers. Which potentially millions of components are fabricated, to create an integrated circuit (IC), creating a single chip that can be used for computation or other tasks.

Semiconductors are important to so many industries because they are an essential electronic component. Whether we are talking about the semiconductor material (silicon, silicon carbide) or the chips that perform tasks.  

To understand why semiconductors are so important to so many industries, let’s take a step back and clarify what a semiconductor actually is.

What is a semiconductor?

A semiconductor is a material that partly conducts current, somewhere between that of an insulator and a conductor (hence the name semi-conductor).

A semiconductor chip is an integrated circuit (IC) formed on a wafer of silicon, consisting of the semiconductor material that manages the flow and control of current, and components like transistors and resistors to create the circuit.

When talking about semiconductors in relation to chips, we use the names “chips” or “semis’” because these names are more accurate for describing circuits laid down or grown to do computation or other tasks like memory.

Why are semiconductors so important?

In 1947, the first semiconductor transistor was made. Engineers quickly realized that manufacturing transistors out of silicon allowed them to fit on a microchip, which opened the gates to all the electronics you use today.

Without semiconductor chips, modern electronics would not exist. These inconspicuous, tiny components replaced tubes in electronics in the 1970s, laying the foundation for every electrical device used today, including the screen you’re looking at.

Today, all modern electrical devices use semiconductor chips, from home ovens to smartphones and cars. Billions of semiconductors are manufactured each year, and they are getting smaller and smarter with each generation.

Powering our smart, connected world

As we discussed earlier, semiconductor chips are single electronic components consisting of thousands or millions of electrical components, enabling functions like computation, memory, oscillation, switching, logic, amplification, and so on.

Without this single component with an integrated circuit, there would be no way to efficiently make the circuits we need to create smart, connected devices in their current form. Quite literally, chips are the reason you are reading this.

With an insatiable appetite for semiconductor chips, it’s a good job the material we use to make the wafers – silicon – is naturally abundant.

Today, most chips are built on silicon, which makes up 27.7% of the earth’s crust, or silicon carbide, a compound tweaked for performance.

However, our demand for chips is outstripping supply. There is a global semiconductor shortage underway affecting all industries, with the automotive industry hardest hit due to a perfect storm that has been building for years.

Electronic components distributors like Lantek are helping supply meet demand, while the semiconductor industry battles to make more chips.

If you are having difficulty finding those hard-to-find and obsolete electronic components. Get in touch with our team today by emailing sales@lantekcorp.com or call 1-973-579-8100

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Electronic Components passive components

Passive and Interconnecting Electronic Components market to display lucrative growth

The passive and interconnecting electronic components market is predicted to display lucrative growth across all regions over 2020-2025, with North America the dominant market due to the prominence of players in the country.

These predictions come from The Passive and Interconnecting Electronic Components market report from Market Study Report, which you can request a sample of here. The report delivers a rigorous analysis of the market, examining the main growth drivers and restraints, as well as opportunities for revenue cycles.

The passive and IEC markets are forecasted to experience a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 3.1% from 2020-2025, with the US market expected to reach $32.3 billion by 2025, up from $28.6 billion in 2020.

Key players in the industry include:

  • ABB
  • API Technologies
  • AVX Corporation
  • ST Microelectronics
  • 3M Electronics
  • Fujitsu Component
  • American Electronic Components
  • Hamlin
  • Eaton Corp.
  • Datronix Holding Ltd

As the world gets smarter and demand for passive and interconnecting electronic components increases, small players will also take a bigger role. Trade barriers caused by geography will need to be overcome to meet demand, fuelling an explosion in growth across all developed markets, from Europe to Asia Pacific.

What is fuelling growth?

While the report provides in-depth analysis of factors that will fuel growth, we don’t want to tread on its toes, so we’ll provide a simpler analysis.

The reason the passive and interconnecting electronic component markets are going to experience significant growth over the next several years is because of industry tailwinds and technological advancement. Given today’s technological innovation, it’s no wonder that demand for all types of electronic component is soaring.

Disruptive new technologies, rapid advancement in existing technologies and the adoption of smarter, more connected devices, is fuelling unprecedented demand for everything from passive components to chips.

For example, in 2021, manufacturing of passive components could see an 11% increase, but demand is likely to exceed 15%.

Making supply meet demand

There has been a lot of talk about how the next great technological cycle will fuel growth for the semiconductor industry, but it’s important to recognize that chips are nothing but silicon and metal without other components like passives and IECs.

While supply for some components like display drivers is ticking along, there is a global shortage for other components like active, passive and electro-mechanical components, putting manufacturers in a compromised position.

The shortage for some IECs and passive components is expected to last several years, so making supply meet demand will be a challenge in the near future.

To make supply meet demand, suppliers and manufacturers will need to partner with well-connected distributors. Electronic component distributors are the best-connected players in the supply chain, linking sellers with buyers and vice versa.

Sourcing and allocating shortage electronic components is something that we specialize in at Lantek. We help source components that are impossible to find, helping to keep supply chains moving and manufacturing plants going.

With the passive and interconnecting electronic components market set to soar, planning is essential to make supply meet demand and capitalize on growth.

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Electronic Components

Chips shortage limits auto production in Brazil and the rest of the world

“Never seen anything like it,” Tesla’s Elon Musk tweeted last month about the global chips shortage, “Fear of running out is causing every company to overorder – like the toilet paper shortage, but at epic scale.”

If you want a prime example of the chips shortage, look to Brazil.

In 2020, the automotive industry in Brazil was hit hard by chip shortages and the coronavirus pandemic. Approximately 1.61 million passenger cars were made in 2020, a decrease of over 34% compared to the following year. 

2021 got off to a flier… then grounded

2021 got off to a much better start for Brazil, with 1.14 million passenger cars leaving the production line in in the first half of the year, a 57.5% increase compared to the same period last year. However, production has hit a ceiling.

Brazil’s Association of Automotive Vehicle Manufacturers, ANFAVEA, has disclosed that because of chip shortages, Brazil missed its target for automotive production in the first half of 2021, and the numbers cited are startling.

According to ANFAVEA, some 100,000 to 120,000 passenger cars were prevented from entering production by the chips shortage. In June, only 166,947 passenger cars were made, the worst figures of any month in the last 12 months.

Manufacturing limitations created by the chips shortage have been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. Brazil has seen 19.8m coronavirus cases with a 2.8% mortality rate, sadly resulting in over 500,000 deaths.

The biggest factories are struggling in Brazil

More than 20 plants in Brazil run by the likes of Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, General Motors, Nissan, Toyota, Renault, Volvo, Scania and Honda have shut down temporarily in 2021 because of the chips shortage and the pandemic.

At the beginning of June, Volkswagen halted operations at two Brazilian plants amid the chips shortage for 10 days. The company said, “A significant shortage of semiconductors is resulting in several supply bottlenecks.”

Then, in July, Hyundai Motor temporarily halted the operations of its Brazil plant due to the chips shortage. The closure was the first in the Piracicaba plant’s history, raising the alarm over chip shortages in the automotive sector.

What next for the Brazilian automotive sector?

Figures show that in the first half of 2021, the Brazilian automotive sector had a strong rebound on 2020. However, water has been thrown over the fire towards the middle of the year, due to chip shortages across the sector.

Local manufacturers expect to see some relief after August as manufacturing plants catch up, but manufacturers are uncertain about when the supply chain will normalize.

How’s morale among big companies? Sombre, to say the least.  

IBM says the chip shortage could last two years, while Intel Intel’s chief executive, Pat Gelsinger, thinks it could stretch into 2023.

Dell’s CEO echoes these sentiments, “The shortage will probably continue for a few years. Even if chip factories are built all over the world, it takes time.”

So, whichever way we look, and whichever experts we ask, the global chip shortage is showing no signs of abating. For Brazil’s auto manufacturers, making supply meet demand will be the biggest test of the last few decades.

Need Electronic Components?

When you need to source hard to find electronic components quickly because of allocation, long lead times, obsolescence, or quality issues, contact Lantek for a fast response to your enquiries and a reliable on time delivery. Email Sales@lantekcorp.com or call 1-973-579-8100 today.

 

 

 

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Electronic Components

What Shortage? How Electronic Component Distributors Make Supply Meet Demand

When buyers can’t find electronic components, they turn to distributors like us who can source scarce and obsolete parts.

Our experience has been tested to new extremes over the last several months due to the semiconductor and wider electronic components shortage. This shortage was years in the making but has been amplified by COVID-19.

It says everything about the state of the electronic components supply chain when Samsung, who make their own chips, don’t have enough chips. Shortages have affected brands like Samsung, Apple, Volkswagen and Nintendo not just in terms of supply, but also prices, which have skyrocketed in 12 months.

When the chips are down, prices go up.

Distributors are busier than ever

Lantek Corporation, as well other distributors, have become more essential than ever in supply chains since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

It’s no exaggeration to say distributors like us are keeping many businesses going. We keep production lines going by sourcing scarce parts from around the world – parts that would be impossible to source without excellent connections.

We are seeing desperation from companies that have never experienced supply chain problems. We’re talking about global companies listed publicly.

The situation is so bad for some components that some companies are paying a 100% premium just to secure them. Supply and demand is driving fierce competition and bidding wars are not uncommon.

If these revelations shock you, consider this – the electronics components shortage isn’t expected to abate until late 2021 at least. By then, there should be more order to the chaos, but some industry experts expect it to persist longer.

For example, IBM has said the chip shortage could last 2 years.

A 2 year extension would extend the chip shortage to 2023 at least. This is likely to be the case for other components too, including memory, integrated circuits and display drivers. A huge number of companies will be affected.

Playing a crucial role in the supply chain

Distributors like us are able to source hard-to-procure components because we have rapport with the best suppliers in the industry. In other words, we have immense buying power, and we put this to use for our customers.

Another way we are playing a crucial role in the electronics components supply chain is the reduction of counterfeit components.

Counterfeiters are taking advantage of weakened supply chains, lapse quality control processes and inadequate reporting to flood the market with illegal components. This has affected thousands of buyers and will affect many more.

Our role in this is to deploy anti-counterfeiting technologies including a SENTRY machine, die testing and decapsulation testing to test the components we procure. This ensures the components we supply are genuine parts.

We provide industry-leading chip testing to catch counterfeit parts. We have ISO 9001:2015 certification and ESD qualified staff.

If you need to buy parts and the only way to get them is with a distributor, don’t rush in – make sure your distributor is as equally qualified as us first. If you need help, feel free to call us on 001 973-579-8100 to chat with our experts.

 

 

 

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component shortage Electronic Components

Perfect storm’ creates electronic component shortages

A perfect storm has hit the electronic components market, creating supply chain problems that will be felt for several years.

The perfect storm

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most electronic component manufacturers were running at 95-98% capacity.

This high demand for electronic components was fuelled by growth in technologies like automation and the Internet of Things – technologies that are only in their infancy now but will mature in the next decade.

This high manufacturing output was felt across all types of components, especially chips (semiconductors, memory) and integrated circuits. It was even difficult to get a hold of some active and passive components in 2019.

Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Car manufacturers and other manufacturers affected by shutdowns paused orders for electronic components. Meanwhile, manufacturers benefitting from lockdowns scaled up.

Now, with the development and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, industries that shut down have opened up again. But there’s a problem – demand for electronics has not wavered and there isn’t enough manufacturing capacity to serve everyone.

Quite simply, there isn’t enough bread to go around.

Demand is ramping up

We are now in a situation where electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity. Demand has soared for all types of components, from chips and memory to diodes and displays. This is squeezing most supply chains.

There are so many contributors to this squeeze. Emerging technologies like AI, automation, virtual reality, augmented reality and machine learning are fuelling demand for smarter chips and data centre modernization, while technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are demanding infrastructure rollout, which requires a significant effort.

When it comes to chips, however, cars are the biggest users. Cars can have as many as 22,000 multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) each. This will increase as cars get smarter (a self-driving taxi sounds great, but it’ll need around 30,000 chips).

Suppliers are slowly adapting

There has been years of under-investment in new foundries and plants. This under-investment has affected manufacturing capacity today.

To their credit, most manufacturers are looking to expand capacity by setting up new foundries or acquiring plants. Trouble is that most plants take years to set up. Some plants that started a build in 2017 are still being built.

Staffing is also an issue. The biggest challenge suppliers face is social distancing and COVID prevention policies, which have reduced staff numbers in many factories.

You can’t automate every process in a factory, so it is a given that having fewer staff will increase lead times. Some manufacturers have been harder hit than others with this, but all will experience staff shortages during the pandemic.

In addition to this, freight has become more challenging during the pandemic. Things are taking longer to move and there are fewer commercial flights. Global shipping rates have skyrocketed during the pandemic because of this. Higher shipping rates have contributed to price increases for most electronic components.

Weathering the storm

We predicted the electronics component shortage in early 2020 following the USA’s national lockdown. We knew supply chains would be squeezed and stretched due to changes in economic output and industry trends.

The best way to weather the storm is to work with us or another reputable electronic components distributor. We focus on delivering outstanding service, with industry leading quality and dependability. Call us at 001 973 579 8100 to chat.

 

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Electronic Components

Active Electronic Components Market Growing Demand

Active electronic component demand is soaring. The market is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 4.8% during 2021-2026, fuelled by new technologies and faster and more globally available internet connectivity.

What’s driving it?

An explosion of new products with AI and IoT support and tailwinds like 5G are fuelling demand for active components.

Semiconductor devices, optoelectronic devices and display technologies are significant applications. Examples include smart home appliances, virtual reality headsets, connected medical devices and electronic ordering systems.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of active components in high demand:

  • Diodes
  • Transistors
  • Integrated circuits
  • Optoelectronics
  • Sensors
  • Digital and analogue circuits
  • Batteries and power supplies
  • Generators
  • Vacuum tubes
  • CRT / LCD / VFD / TFT / LED displays

The increasing trends of the Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual/augmented reality are expected to fuel demand for active electronic components for years to come.

Challenges lie ahead

This growing demand is not without its challenges. How will manufacturers get a hold of active electronic components if there isn’t enough to go around? Will geopolitical tensions affect supply? How will COVID-19 play a role in the future?

COVID-19

COVID-19 can create supply chain and market disruption and have a financial impact on firms and financial markets. If the virus persists in causing global disruption, this is likely to cause a shortage of active components in the future.

Geopolitical tensions

The US and China’s trade war in 2020 affected chip supplies around the world. Geopolitical tensions remain a risk in the future. Who knows if certain brands will be banned? It’s important that manufacturers stay in the loop to avoid supply chain problems.

Manufacturing bottlenecks

The world is advancing at a rapid rate and electronics components manufacturers are struggling to keep up. While investment in new factories is ongoing, demand may exceed manufacturing capacity, causing a shortage of components.

Price increases

Inflation is making everything more expensive. Add wildly fluctuating exchange rates and increasing demand for active components and you have the perfect recipe for price increases. This could cause a bidding war.

Active components and the future

The future is filled with more technology than you can imagine. Everything will be connected, including your car to your smartphone and your TV speakers to your smart home assistant (e.g. Alexa). Anything electronic can have a chip these days and you can bet innovators will find a way to make everything smart and connected.

With the active electronic components market predicted to increase in value significantly over the next five years, it is essential that companies have a reliable way to source the active components they need.

This is not a matter of beating the competition but a matter of staying operational amid impending shortages. The current chip shortage is a prime example of what can happen if a perfect storm of industry issues occurs.

If you need to source active electronic components, we can help. Email us if you have any questions or call us at 001 973-579-8100 to chat with our team.

 

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component shortage Electronic Components

The Global Chip Shortage Has Created a New Problem: Counterfeits

The global chip shortage is officially wreaking havoc.

The world’s biggest carmakers, including Toyota and Volkswagen, have had to slow down vehicle production, and Samsung – who make their own chips – has had to delay the launch of several smartphones due to be released in 2021.

These are but a few examples of thousands of cases where the global chip shortage is wreaking havoc with manufacturers.

But that’s not all – the global chip shortage is creating a new problem: counterfeit components.

The issue is simple: chip manufacturers can’t make enough chips which has given counterfeiters a golden opportunity to plug the gap.

A counterfeit part is an unauthorized copy, imitation, substitute, or modification of an original component.

Counterfeit components are illegal and should not be used under any circumstances, but counterfeiters don’t care. They defraud you and hope you don’t notice. And if you do, there is virtually no chance of getting your money back. 

With no accountability, counterfeiters are having a field day.

A sophisticated criminal enterprise

The counterfeit electronic components industry is a multi-million-dollar industry. It has become sophisticated and impossible to shut down.

Criminals are taking advantage of weakened supply chains, inadequate quality control processes and inadequate reporting to flood the market with illegal components. They are praying on weaknesses and desperation to profit.

Counterfeit chips can look like the real thing, but worse is they can also perform similarly during basic benchmarks and tests. This allows the most sophisticated components to penetrate manufacturing lines.

The risks of using counterfeit components include:

  • Financial loss
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of customers
  • Refunds and regulatory fines
  • Bribery from criminals
  • Poor and dangerous product performance

How we can help you avoid counterfeits

We provide industry-leading chip testing to catch counterfeit goods. We have ISO 9001:2015 certification and ESD qualified staff. We have several anti-counterfeiting technologies available including a SENTRY machine, die testing and decapsulation testing.

We specialize in the procurement and delivery of electronic components for a wide variety of industries from the world’s leading manufacturers.

If you work with us as your electronic components distributor, you can avoid the issue of counterfeit chips and components for good. We have standard anti-counterfeiting policies and all the components we supply have a guarantee.

If you are still exploring your options, here’s some general advice:

  • If it is too good to be true, it probably is
  • Make sure any guarantee is worth the paper it is printed on
  • Look for ISO 9001:2015 certification
  • Demand testing prior to all deliveries
  • Only work with suppliers who have an anti-counterfeiting policy
  • Beware of spoof companies that pretend to be someone they are not
  • Consider staff training to identify when something isn’t right with suppliers

If you are concerned about counterfeit components in your supply chain we are happy to provide advice. Call us on 001 973-579-8100 for a chat with our experts. The chip shortage does not have to affect your supply chain with our help.  

Categories
Electronic Components Semiconductor

Semiconductor production capacity expected to hit records highs in 2021

As you probably know, we are in the middle of a global semiconductor shortage. Auto manufacturers are cutting jobs, brands are delaying the release of new products, and people are struggling to buy things like games consoles.

It’s a grim situation predicted to last a few years, but behind the scenes, semiconductor companies are preparing to come out of the chip shortage swinging.

In fact, it’s predicted that semiconductor production capacity will reach a record high in 2021 so long as additional production lines are completed. This is reliant on production lines coming online following investments made at the beginning of 2018.

According to industry forecasts, next year, another 10 production lines for 300mm silicon wafers will be added worldwide. These will contribute millions of semiconductors each year, helping to release some pressure on demand.  

IC Insights also provides the following forecasts for chips: “By 2024, the average annual growth rate of semiconductor production capacity will be 5.9%. Compared with the average annual increase rate (5.1%) of semiconductor production capacity in the past 5 years (2014 ~ 2019), the growth rate slightly increased.”

Record demand for chips

The semiconductor market is experiencing record demand across all sectors. Chip manufacturers are struggling to keep up, but they are investing in new production lines to meet predicted demand several years from now.

The latest report from IC Insights’ McClean Report says that the semiconductor market will shake off the Covid-19 pandemic with 13% growth in 2021.

Semiconductor unit shipments are expected to hit 1,135.3 billion in 2021, fuelled by chips that target connected devices, VR and AR, network and cloud computing systems, contactless payment systems, automotive electronics including autonomous systems and consumer electronics including smartphones.

As technology advances and the world becomes more digital and more connected, chip demand will increase ten-fold over the next few years.

Semiconductor manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand now but there are signs of life as the IC Insights’ report demonstrates.

The world’s biggest chip companies, including TSMC, UMC, SMIC, Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix are going to play a leading role in how technologies roll out long into the future. There should be no doubt these companies will power our future.

What next for semiconductors?

The prices of semiconductors are expected to increase by 20% in 2021 due to a shortage in production capacity and higher silicon prices.

However, the future may not be silicon at all. Graphene chips are 100 times smaller than silicon chips and thousands of times faster. This technology is in its infancy but it’s showing great promise. We expect big things in the next decade.

We also expect the semiconductor shortage to persist until 2022. Shortages should lift beyond this as production capacity increases from new production lines. Chip makers will need to manage supply and demand better in the future. The current shortage is bad news for everyone. Thankfully, it won’t last forever. Of this we’re certain.

 

 

Categories
Electronic Components Supply Chain

UK Government asks for views on supply chain security

UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has called for views on security measures across digital supply chains and IT services, including data processing, infrastructure management and supplier assurance.

The call comes as more organizations move their operations online and pivot to digital business models. A few obvious examples are retailers moving online and car manufacturers offering cars on subscription, which may kill showroom sales.

As organizations increasingly move their operations online, it’s a given that digital supply chains and third-party IT service operators will become more vital. The government wants to take a leadership role in helping organizations make the transition.

“We’re seeking views from firms that both procure and provide digital services, as a first step in considering whether we need updated guidance or strengthened rules,” said Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman.

Call for Views

The Call for Views focuses on two parts:

Part 1 seeks input on how organizations across the market manage supply chain cyber risk and how government intervention would help.

Part 2 seeks input on the suitability of a proposed framework for Managed Service Provider security and how it can be appropriately implemented.

You can read more about the Call for Views here.

The information submitted by organizations will be used to develop new policy solutions that support organizations in cyber risk management.

However, responses are not limited to organizations and all those that have an interest in supply chain cyber risk management are being asked to provide their opinions.

Security comes first

The government wants to ensure that organizations can properly review the cyber security risks coming from suppliers and their supply chains.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) already offers a raft of support to help organizations assess the security risks of their suppliers, however the government wants to go further and is asking for views from organizations on this matter.

They have requested views on existing guidance for supply chain risk cyber management and they are testing a new security framework with some firms. This is a managed service provider framework, which requires Managed Service Providers to meet the current Cyber Assessment Framework so feedback can be collected.  

On the Call for Views, Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman has said: “There is a long history of outsourcing of critical services. We have seen attacks such as ‘CloudHopper’ where organizations were compromised through their managed service provider. It’s essential that organizations take steps to secure their mission critical supply chains – and remember they cannot outsource risk.

“Firms should follow free government advice on offer. They must take steps to protect themselves against vulnerabilities and we need to ensure third-party kit and services are as secure as possible.”

Want to take part?

If you wish to take part in the Call for Views, you can complete the online survey. If you are unable to complete the survey, you can email your response to cyber-review@dcms.gov.uk or send it via post to the following address:

Call for views on supply chain cyber security

Cyber Resilience Team – 4/47

DCMS

100 Parliament Street

London

SW1A 2BQ

Categories
Electronic Components

Chip shortage hitting auto jobs

The global semiconductor shortage is hitting automotive manufacturers where it hurts, which will inevitably lead to job cuts across the supply chain.

We are already starting to see this with Stellantis, the car company formed by the merger of Fiat and Peugeot, saying it will cut over 1,600 jobs at its Illinois Jeep plant.

Elsewhere, the first sign of job cuts will be found in production cuts. Ford Motor Co has outlined a series of plant shutdowns due to the chip shortage, with five facilities in the US and one in Turkey affected. They have also cut output in Europe.

Meanwhile, GM has been forced into production cuts and Nissan recorded its worst annual loss in decades because of the global chip shortage.

Volkswagen AG has also sounded the horn, warning that chip shortages will curb output in the coming months of 2021. VW expects worsening production from the chip shortage and for it to affect all their cars groups, including SEAT and Audi.

Billions in losses

Job cuts appear to be inevitable across the automotive industry as manufacturers count the cost of production constraints caused by the chip shortage.

It is estimated the global auto industry will take an £80 billion hit in 2021. Several manufacturers have come forward with their own estimates. Ford says the chip shortage will cost them up to $2 billion in 2021 alone.  

Unfortunately, it is ordinary workers who will be punished. With fewer cars to make, workers involved in the manufacturing of cars will be cut first. We have already seen this with Stellantis. Other manufacturers will likely follow.

Why the chip shortage?

Modern cars have more than 1,000 chips in them and the smartest, most connected models, such as those with ADAS systems, have over 3,000 chips. So, even a small supply constraint can set back production.

However, this is no small supply constraint.

It appears that no auto maker is immune to the chip shortage brought about by cancelled orders at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, auto makers cancelled chip orders. Electronics manufacturers filled this gap in demand with soaring sales. Now that auto makers need to ramp up chip orders again, they have nowhere to go because most chip makers are running at 98-100% capacity making chips for other booming sectors.

This has caused a global semiconductor shortage that has affected all industries and all players. Even Samsung, who make their own chips, are struggling. The shortage is predicted to last 1-2 years until new foundries become operational.

Looking ahead

The semiconductor shortage will not last forever, and people need cars. Production will accelerate in the years to come. However, jobs may still be at risk.

Sadly, the chip shortage could accelerate digital transformation in manufacturing facilities, with the displacement of human workers for machines.

This is commonplace, but traditional brands may now seek a permanent solution to job cuts through technology. Automated plants are inevitable.

In any case, the future of the automotive industry is bright so long as you extend your horizon. The chip shortage is likely to last for the next 2 years. If you work in the automotive sector, strap yourself in. There is more drama to come.

 

Categories
component shortage Electronic Components

IBM says chip shortages could last two years

As technology has advanced, semiconductors have found their way into everything that requires computing power from coffee machines to cars. But the manufacturing output for semiconductors has not kept up with this change.

The semiconductor industry has also been hit with an industry rotation in demand that it was never prepared to deal with.

This happened at the start of the coronavirus pandemic when automotive manufacturers scaled back semiconductor orders. Lockdowns meant they weren’t making enough cars, so they scaled-down and battened the hatches.

Meanwhile, the demand for data center, computing, and home device semiconductors soared. Rather than finding themselves down on orders, semiconductor makers were all of a sudden making more semiconductors than ever before.

And then the automotive sector came roaring back.

Now, the semiconductor industry is in a state of disarray. Manufacturers are struggling to make enough chips in a situation we’ve called Chipageddon. This is compounded by the fact that silicon prices are soaring, making chips more expensive.

How long will the chip shortage last? The latest opinions don’t deliver good news – IBM says the chip shortage could last 2 years.

2 years!?

The president of IBM, Jim Whitehurst, has said that the current chip shortage could last another two years. Here’s what he said in an interview with the BBC:

“There’s just a big lag between from when a technology is developed and when [a fabrication plant] goes into construction and when chips come out. So frankly, we are looking at couple of years… before we get enough incremental capacity online to alleviate all aspects of the chip shortage.”

What Whitehurst means is it takes a long time to set up a chip fab before it can start producing chips. It takes 12-24 months typically, so you have a situation where even if a lot of fabs are being built, they won’t contribute for years.  

The chip shortage is so severe that it has led IBM to look towards other ways to meet demand. “We’re going to have to look at reusing, extending the life of certain types of computing technologies,” says Whitehurst, “as well as accelerating investment in these [fabricating plants], to be able to as quickly as possible get more capacity online.”

IBM isn’t alone

There is a serious imbalance in the semiconductor industry, and this is a problem many companies are having to contend with.

For example, Ford cancelled shifts at two car plants earlier this year and said profits could be hit by up to $2.5bn due to chip shortages. Meanwhile, Apple announced it would take a $3 billion to $4 billion hit due to the global chip shortage.

However, the most telling story of the semiconductor shortage comes from Samsung.  

Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of DRAM and the world’s fourth largest semiconductor manufacturer but are also experiencing shortages, to the point of having to delay the launch of the next-gen Galaxy Note until as late as 2022.

The fact that Samsung is experiencing a chip shortage when it manufactures its own chips tells us everything we need to know – the chip shortage is severe. It isn’t a small shortage at all – it’s an enormous shortage affecting everyone across the supply chain.

Unfortunately, it looks like the global semiconductor shortage will be around for a few years yet, and things could get worse before they get better.

Semiconductor woes

The semiconductor shortage is the result of a catalogue of problems going back several years. Here are some of the highlights:

Intel’s woes

Intel is the world’s leading supplier of CPUs for PCs and data centres and in 2018 they caused a chip shortage with the troubled development of 10nm chips. Intel’s mistakes have led to a shortage in CPUs for computers.

Declining DRAM prices

DRAM is a computer’s main memory. In 2019 and 2020, prices for DRAM declined, causing the biggest players – Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix – to curb their output. This led to supply constraints when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Super cycle

The global demand for chips has hit an all-time high. Data centres, computers, cloud services, augmented reality, 5G, connected devices and connected vehicles are fuelling demand. This is great for chip sales, but the industry can’t keep up.

Tech war

The U.S. created a semiconductor shortage of its own when they levied sanctions against several Chinese companies, including SMIC and Huawei. This exasperated the chip shortage, placing strain on domestic manufacturers.

Coronavirus pandemic and cancelled orders

During the coronavirus pandemic, demand for semiconductors soared in some industries (e.g. electronics) and dropped in others (e.g. automotive). When demand came back for “down” industries, demand didn’t drop for “up” industries, leading to a shortage.

Fierce competition

We now have a situation where carmakers are battling the electronics industry for chips. There aren’t enough chips to go around and increasing manufacturing capacity is impossible without significant investment in new foundries.

Meeting demand

The electronics super cycle is not going to end anytime soon because there are so many tailwinds, including self-driving cars, VR, AR, AI, 5G and space travel. So, we cannot expect demand to drop and the chip industry to catch up with itself.

To meet demand, we need new foundries which take 12-24 months to set up. Many companies are already building new foundries, or are boosting capacity at existing plants, which is good news for the long run.

In the here and now, manufacturers can meet demand for chips by partnering with an electronics component distributor like us. We specialize in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts (including semiconductors) for a wide variety of industries from the world’s leading manufacturers.

The semiconductor shortage has affected the entire manufacturing supply chain but our close links in the industry mean we have better access to chips than most. No promises, but we have an excellent track record across all sectors.  

Get in touch with us to discuss your needs. We’re here to help.

Call: 001 973 579 8100

Email: sales@lantekcorp.com 

Categories
Electronic Components

Who are the biggest players in the semiconductor industry?

Over the next decade, demand for semiconductors is going to go supersonic thanks to secular and cyclical tailwinds.

Semiconductors are the building blocks of the information age; every device that will be ‘connected’ needs a semiconductor. The companies that manufacture semiconductors are the unsung heroes of the future. But who are they?

In this article, we will briefly cover the biggest players in the semiconductor industry.

Foundries

Foundries concentrate on manufacturing and testing physical products for fabless companies. Some companies, like Intel, are both fabless and foundry, meaning they design and make their chips. Foundries often serve as a non-competitive manufacturing partner for fabless companies. The following list contains the biggest foundries:

TSMC

TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer by a significant margin. They are expected to capture 56% of the semiconductor market in 2021 (up from 54% in 2020). 

UMC

UMC (United Microelectronics Corporation) is a Taiwanese company. They are the second largest semiconductor foundry in the world behind TSMC. UMC specialise in mature nodes, such as 40nm nodes and other speciality logic.

SMIC

SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation) is a Chinese company. They are the third largest semiconductor manufacturer in the world. They specialise in process nodes from 0.35 micron to 14 nanometres.

Samsung

Samsung Electronics is a South Korean company. They are the world’s largest manufacturer of DRAM and the world’s fourth largest semiconductor manufacturer. They are expected to occupy 18% of the semiconductor market in 2021.  

Micron

Micron is an American company. They are the second largest manufacturer of DRAM (dynamic random-access memory) behind Samsung. DRAM is semiconductor memory used in consumer electronics, computing equipment and IoT devices.

SK Hynix

SK Hynix is a South Korean company. They are the world’s third largest manufacturer of DRAM and a leading manufacturer of NAND flash memory. In 2019, they developed HBM2E, the world’s fastest high bandwidth memory.

NXP Semiconductors

NXP Semiconductors is a Dutch-American company. They manufacture ARM-based processors, microprocessors and logic across 8, 16 and 32-bit platforms. Their products are used in automotive, consumer, and industrial markets.

Powerchip

Powerchip Technology Corporation is a Taiwanese company. They manufacture DRAM and memory chips, semiconductors and integrated circuits. They use a 300mm wafer production technology which can produce advanced and mature chips.

ON Semiconductor

ON Semiconductor is an American company. They design and fabricate chips and microprocessors for automotive, aerospace, industrial, cloud and Internet of Things devices. They have over 45 years’ of experience in the foundry business.

Fabless companies

“Fabless” means outsourced fabrication. Fabless companies concentrate on the research and development of chips and semiconductors. They then outsource the manufacturing of the product to a foundry. This relationship is non-competitive, and the foundry is normally a silent partner. The following list contains the biggest fabless companies:

MediaTek

MediaTek is a Taiwanese company. By market share, they are the world’s leading vendor of smartphone chipsets. They are also a leading vendor of chipsets for other consumer electronics including tablets and connected TVs.

Qualcomm

Qualcomm is an American company. They are the world’s biggest fabless company. Their product catalogue includes processors, modems, RF systems, 5G, 4G and legacy connectivity solutions. They are best-known for Snapdragon Series processors.

Broadcom

Broadcom is an American company. Depending on which figures you read, they are either the first or second largest fabless company in the world. Broadcom’s products serve the data centre, networking, software, broadband, wireless, and storage and industrial markets.

NVIDIA

NVIDIA is an American company. They are the market leader for high-end graphics processing units (GPUs). In 2020, NVIDIA GeForce GPUs accounted for 82% of GPU market share. This is significantly more than AMD Radeon graphics cards, which accounted for 18%.

AMD

AMD is an American company. They design high-performance GPUs and processors for computers, where they command the second biggest market share behind Intel. Their GPUs compete against NVIDIA’s but are not considered as powerful.

Himax

Himax is a Taiwanese company. They are a leading vendor of automotive chips and semiconductors for connected devices. Their semiconductors are used in TVs, monitors, laptops, virtual reality headsets, cameras and much more.

Realtek

Realtek is a Taiwanese company. They are a fabless semiconductor company focused on developing IC products (integrated circuits). They are best-known for SoCs (System-on-Chips) network (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) interface controllers.

Integrated device manufacturers

Some companies have foundry and fabless arms. These companies often design and fabricate their own products or design and fabricate chips for others. These integrated device manufacturers (IDMs for short) blur the line between foundry and fabless with an in-house production process that utilises little if any outsourcing. IDMs include:

Intel

Intel is an American company. They design and manufacture their own chips which they package into CPUs. Intel’s market share in the CPU market has declined in recent years, but they remain one of the top semiconductor manufacturers.

Analog Devices

Analog Devices is an American company. They have a 150mm wafer fab and a 200mm wafer fab. They have fabless production facilities and have made numerous fabless acquisitions over the years, such as OneTree Microdevices in 2017.

Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments is an American company. They have 14 manufacturing sites including silicon foundries. They specialise in the production and manufacture of wafers, digital signal processors, integrated circuits and embedded processors.

Overall

You may have noticed that the US and Taiwan dominate the semiconductor industry on the foundry and fabless side. Among the biggest semiconductor companies, the largest proportion are based in the United States. However, Taiwan is the foundry king, with the two biggest players based there (TSMC and UMC).

Semiconductors are used in all electronics that require computing power, including smartphones, PCs, and data centres and cars. A surge in demand for chip-based products will fuel the need for more semiconductors in the future. It will be up to the big players on this list to meet that demand and power our future.

Categories
Electronic Components

Wireless-to-DALI Gateway specification from DALI Alliance

The DALI Alliance (DiiA) has published specifications for linking wireless-to-DALI gateways to DALI wired products and Bluetooth mesh and Zigbee ecosystems.

The two new specifications published by the DALI Alliance are Part 341, covering Bluetooth Mesh to DALI Gateways, and Part 342, describing Zigbee to DALI Gateways. You can download the specifications you need for your project here.

Wireless-to-DALI gateways

Wireless-to-DALI gateways allow the incorporation of DALI luminaires and other DALI devices into wireless control networks.

The new specifications have well-defined parameters to enable consistent lighting behaviour, so that high-quality smart lighting control systems can be designed. Part of the specifications cover data and analytics, enabling DALI control gear to log and report energy and diagnostics data to a control interface.  

Many lighting systems already leverage DALI lighting control. DALI permits the digital controlling of each lighting fixture in a given lighting system. It enables a two-way communication protocol so fixtures can communicate. These systems are flexible, scalable and built for the future with Internet of Things (IoT) compatibility.

Why publish specifications?

The new specifications have effectively standardised how to link wireless-to-DALI gateways with connectivity solutions. This provides greater flexibility and creative freedom for lighting designers and OEMs. It also enables a consistent quality in installations.

The DALI Alliance, Bluetooth SIG and Zigbee Alliance have collaborated on this effort and all parties are delighted to have created new standards.

Here’s what each party had to say on the announcement:

The DALI Alliance

“Publishing the specifications for Wireless to DALI Gateways is a major milestone that signals our intention to allow DALI to operate within wireless networks when the need arises,” said Paul Drosihn, general manager of the DALI Alliance. “The move extends choice, convenience and creative possibilities to the user base of DALI wired systems and to those implementing new wired and wireless lighting control systems.”

 

Bluetooth SIG

“The standardized gateway between DALI lighting products and Bluetooth mesh lighting control networks will further accelerate the adoption of advanced IoT-enabled intelligent lighting systems,” said Mark Powell, Bluetooth SIG chief executive officer. “Providing valuable energy efficiencies and a more comfortable and productive experience for occupants, these sensor-rich lighting systems will also enable more efficient operation of other building systems, including HVAC and security.”

Zigbee Alliance

“The Zigbee to DALI Gateway brings together the market-proven, cost-effective, low-power wireless Zigbee technology, with the internationally standardized and widely used wired DALI lighting protocol, to deliver optimized and expanded wireless lighting solutions to the IoT market. When it comes to lighting-control networks, many of our members are invested across categories and applications, especially in the commercial space,” said Chris LaPré, Technology Lead, Zigbee Alliance. “As they continue to lead the market and innovate in new directions afforded by the IoT, we support broadening lighting possibilities as manufacturers drive standards that matter and deliver lighting solutions that keep the world connected. ”

You can find out more about the new release of specifications for standardised wireless-to-DALI gateways and DALI-over-wireless devices here.

Categories
component shortage Electronic Components

Equivalents keep the supply chain moving in uncertain markets

In uncertain markets, the demand for specific, branded components tends to outstrip supply. We have seen this recently with the semiconductor shortage, where specific chips are hard to come by at a time when they are needed.

Equivalent components, also known as equivalents in the industry, provide an immediate solution. These ‘generic’ parts can be specified when specific parts can’t be sourced and in cases where parts no longer need to be from one brand.

Successive cycles of electronic component shortages (especially in the semiconductor sector) has led to manufacturers specifying equivalents on their order sheets. Outside of sectors that have precise specifications for safety, like aerospace and biotechnology, these equivalents are helping to keep supply chains moving.

Equivalent in quality and specification

One of the common misconceptions about equivalent components is that they are somehow castoffs or second-best components. This is untrue. They are simply equivalent components from a different brand/maker/OEM.

The term ‘equivalent’ is used to describe components that can be used as substitutes for specific components. They meet the size, power, specification and design standards set by design teams. They are ‘like-for-like’ on the spec sheet.

The quality aspect of equivalents is only a concern when the electronic component distributor cannot verify the provenance of the components. At Cyclops, we only source genuine, verifiable components. We would rather expand our supplier base than source a batch of equivalents that we cannot be sure of.

A pragmatic approach to managing supply

Companies that are fixated on using specific components run the risk of running into roadblocks. There is a global shortage for chip passives and discrete semiconductors and this problem is expected to last through 2021.

Specifying equivalents is a pragmatic approach to managing supply chains in uncertain markets for several reasons. For the customer, generic specification reduces supply chain risk. It allows the customer to meet demand requirements without the risk of backorders, supply constraints, or being outbid by other companies.

The biggest benefit is flexibility. Rather than be tied to what is in stock and what you can source from an OEM, you can specify a value and chip size for passives, or a generic diode designation, and let your distributor source equivalents.

If you want to give yourself the best chance of meeting demand for scarce electronic components, equivalents will need to form part of your supply chain. Otherwise you run the risk of disruption and higher procurement costs.

How we can help you

Lantek specialises in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts for a wide variety of industries from the world’s leading manufacturers.

We can source equivalent components for you from our global network. All we need is a value and chip size for passives or a generic diode designation for actives. We will work with your spec sheets and source high-quality, equivalent components.

If you are currently experiencing an electronic component shortage, we can help. Email us if you have any questions or call us on 1-973-579-8100 for a chat with our team.

Categories
Demand Electronic Components

Keeping pace with high power terminal block demand

High power terminal block demand is soaring with the buildout of EV charging infrastructure. The reason is simple – high current requires high power terminal blocks, making these components essential for EV charging stations.

The rapid growth in the adoption of electric vehicles is fuelling demand for high power terminal blocks beyond what most people expected.

The UK Government’s decision to ban petrol and diesel cars from 2030 has accelerated the buildout of EV chargers, leading to significant new investment by leading companies like Tesla and BP Chargemaster. There are now more than 35,000 charge points across the UK, a figure that is expected to increase by 10,000 in 2021.

The big barrier to purchase with electric vehicles is a lack of charging infrastructure and slow charge times. Building more charging stations is the simple solution to this problem, but bigger, better high power terminal blocks are also needed for the next generation of rapid chargers that will provide power up to 350 kW.

What is ‘high power’?

Anything above 40 amps is classed as high power. All public electric charging stations significantly exceed this amount. High power terminal blocks are typically available up to 125 amps and higher for custom applications.

We need terminal blocks capable of handling higher currents when the charging speed demand increases for the station. EV chargers are classified in three categories: Level 1, Level 2 and direct current. Whether a charger is AC or DC, the higher the current, the higher the power draw, so the more robust the terminal needs to be.

Terminal block specifications

Terminal blocks serve as a routing tool for wiring. They are simple components, used to connect circuits together and provide an electrical ground for the circuit.

Screw terminal, push button and push-in terminal block styles are available. These accommodate different types of circuit design. The module type can be interlocking or single-piece with a plug or receptacle housing.

Terminal blocks for EV charging stations are optimised for this specific purpose and they are normally rated for at least 150% of the max current.

Meeting the soaring demand for high power terminal blocks

Unlike semiconductors, there is no immediate shortage of high power terminal blocks. They are available in the tens of thousands per order.

There is competition between the EV and renewable energy industry for high power terminal blocks though. Both industries are significant consumers of these components and demand is increasing with new electrical installations.

Other in-demand components for electric vehicle charging infrastructure include battery connectors and high voltage connectors designed to handle the heat of EV charging. These connections need to be small but also thermally efficient.

Do you need help sourcing terminal blocks?

Lantek is a leading supplier of high power terminal blocks and connectors to the electric vehicle and renewable energy markets. We are a global distributor with access to the widest range of electronic components for all applications.

You can find out more about what we do here. Email us if you have any questions or call us on 1-973-579-8100 for a chat with our team.

Categories
component shortage Electronic Components Lead Time

Electronics Counterfeiters Capitalize on Component Shortages

Electronics Counterfeiters Capitalize on Component Shortages

The electronics industry is experiencing a components shortage which is bad news for everyone except counterfeiters who are seeing greater demand than ever.

The total available market for counterfeit electronic components is billions of pounds, so it makes no wonder this illegal activity is seeing rapid growth.

What is a counterfeit part?

A counterfeit part is an unauthorised copy, imitation, substitute, or modification of an original component. Counterfeit components are a misrepresentation of the real thing but can be extremely convincing they are legitimate.

Giveaways that components are counterfeits include:

  • Colour variances
  • Misspellings and incorrect labelling
  • Mismatched date codes
  • Duplicate date codes and labels
  • Missing items
  • Poor packaging and quality control
  • Font variances
  • Country of origin problems
  • Signs of “resurfacing”
  • Failure in tests and performance issues

How are counterfeiters capitalising on component shortages?

Electronics counterfeiters are capitalising on component shortages by penetrating weakened supply chains, taking advantage of inadequate quality control processes and taking advantage of inadequate reporting.

Demand is exceeding supply for many electronic components, exasperating the issue. The semiconductor shortage is the current big one.

As lead times get pushed out, buyers are faced with a dilemma: should they stick with trusted suppliers and put up with delays or look for another supplier? The risk is the ‘other supplier’ being a counterfeiter or not having the necessary controls in place to ensure that shipments do not get intercepted and changed.

This dilemma is when counterfeiters strike to take advantage. The wrong decision can have significant financial and economic consequences.

Another area of focus for counterfeiters is the scarcity of parts caused by end-of-life designations. There is significant demand for end-of-life components, but they can be very hard to find. Counterfeiters pray on this weakness with illegitimate copies.

There’s also a grey market for used electronic components that are refurbished or reconditioned and sold as new. The danger with this is using components that are spent and not repaired properly. When you buy “new” the components should be exactly that. Buying used is never a good idea, unless you want used parts.

How can I protect myself from counterfeiters?

First of all, you should read our 8 Step Guide To Buying Electronic Components With Confidence and Avoiding Counterfeits.

Secondly, you should only work with electronic component suppliers who have a compliance program in place. A good benchmark is suppliers who are ERAI (Electronic Resellers Association International) members. We are ERAI members, so we are on the ERAI database and use ERAI supply chain risk mitigation solutions.

Secondly, it’s really important that you have adequate inspection and testing processes in place to verify the components you receive. If your supplier tests components for you, what testing facilities do they use, and which services are performed?

Summing up

Electronics counterfeiters are capitalising on component shortages by taking advantage of inadequate quality control and reporting processes and weakened supply chains.

A robust supply chain and trusted parts suppliers are the two keys to protecting your organisation. If you are concerned about counterfeit components in your supply chain we’re happy to provide advice. Call us on 01904 415 415 for a chat.

Categories
component shortage Electronic Components Lead Time

Why We’re Facing a Global Semiconductor Shortage

The world is experiencing a semiconductor shortage at a time when demand for semiconductors is at an all-time high. Manufacturers can’t make enough of them and we’re now seeing this affect the availability of products.

You probably remember last year Sony released the PlayStation 5 and Microsoft released the Xbox Series X. AMD released the Big Navi GPU (RX 6000) and Apple released the iPhone 12 range. What all these products have in common is they were all directly affected by the semiconductor shortage. Demand well and truly exceeded supply.

What’s causing the shortage?

A perfect storm has hit the semiconductor market. It isn’t one thing but a combination of different things that’s causing the shortage today.

The COVID-19 pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, car and commercial vehicle sales took a hit. Estimates suggest that sales fell by 50% or more within a single month. In response, car manufacturers scaled back orders for semiconductors and other parts.

At the same time, demand for electronics chips soared as more people spent time working from home and on furlough.

Laptops, smartphones, drones, smartwatches, tablets, kitchen appliances – everything has a semiconductor nowadays. Then you have IT, data centres, internet infrastructure and cloud and edge computing. All are powered by semiconductors.

And so, the factories that were at capacity making semiconductors for cars switched to making semiconductors for electronics. This was a blessing in disguise for factories because semiconductors for electronics have a higher margin. However, it has caused a problem for car manufacturers who now need to ramp up production.

The situation now is this – car sales are picking up and car manufacturers are fighting for orders against electronics manufacturers. Factories are at capacity and can’t make enough to go around. This is feeding through to nearly every sector.

Ultimately, this is the result of poor planning from car makers who cut orders too deeply last year at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manufacturing limitations

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there weren’t enough factories to meet semiconductor demand. There were long lead times in 2019 because semiconductor demand outpaced the ability of factories to make them. This problem has persisted through to 2021 and has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With most factories running at 99-100% capacity, there is very little room for boosted output. You would think that the solution is to build more factories, but this would not solve the problem today or even a year from now because semiconductor fabs take at least a year to build with another 6-12 months in setup time.

Semiconductor manufacturers are investing in new factories, expansion and more efficient technologies, but short-term solutions these are not.

The US is attempting to bring semiconductor manufacturing to US soil to remedy this or at least reduce dependency on foreign suppliers.

US and China trade war

Calls for domestic manufacturing are heating up in the US and China, the result of a trade war brought about mostly by supply chain disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reports in May 2020 that the Trump administration was in talks with Intel, TSMC, and Samsung about building US chip factories proved true. In 2021, with a new president and Biden administration, these talks are persisting.

The reason a technology trade war broke out between the US and China is because the US imposed a 25 per cent tariff on $34 billion of Chinese imports in 2018. There has been bad blood ever since with threats and action on both sides.

This eventually affected the semiconductor supply chain because in 2020 the US turned to export restrictions targeting the semiconductor supply chain to safeguard critical infrastructure in the telecommunications sector. This followed a 2019 ban on the Chinese company Huawei for “national security reasons”.

For example, one of the consequences of export restrictions was that American firms were cut off from chips made by China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation – the third largest chip maker in the world with 11% market share.

Local production problems

Factory shutdowns due to natural disasters, bad weather and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused semiconductor supply chain issues.

Most of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured in Taiwan. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chipmaker, has a 28% market share. The second largest, UMC, also based in Taiwan, has a 13% market share.

Taiwan is experiencing serious water droughts in 2021. Millions of tonnes of water are required to manufacture semiconductors every week. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing is having to bring water in on trucks and UMC are doing the same. This has caused significant drops in manufacturing efficiency.

The US is also experiencing shutdowns. NXP Semiconductors had to shut its plant in Austin, Texas, due to winter weather in February 2021.

Factory shutdowns cause order backlogs and extended lead times. Orders persist and pile in whether a factory is down or not. This squeezes supply chains, causing a shortage.

How long will the semiconductor shortage persist?

We expect the semiconductor shortage to persist through 2021 but ease towards the end of the year as demand for electronics chips decreases as COVID-19 lockdowns end. This will cause a shift in supply from electronics semiconductors to automotive semiconductors which will provide the industry with a much-needed equilibrium.

The world’s largest semiconductor manufacturers – TSMC, UMC, SMIC, Samsung, Intel, SK Hynix – are investing in increased output. Many investments were in the pipeline as early as 2019 and are expected to yield results at the end of 2021.

Right now, there is a serious imbalance in the demand for semiconductors, one that our existing infrastructure is not built to cope with. This imbalance will ease over time. 

How can supply chains continue to meet demand?

If you have been impacted by the semiconductor shortage you can meet demand by partnering with an electronics components distributor like us.

We specialise in the procurement and delivery of semiconductors and parts for a wide variety of industries from the world’s leading manufacturers. You can find out more about what we do here. Email us if you have any questions.

Categories
Electronic Components Environment

Anglia goes solar with new photovoltaic cell range

Anglia Components has announced a new PCB-mounted photovoltaic solar cell line for electronics applications in collaboration with Anysolar, offering a new way for electronics manufacturers to harness light energy.  

The technology

The Anysolar PCB-mounted photovoltaic solar cell range can replace battery and mains power for low-power applications. It can be reflow soldered onto PCBs and parts compatible with traditional hand soldering processes.

The advantages of using Anglia’s photovoltaic cells include:

  • Clean energy for sensors
  • Low cost
  • Long lifespan
  • No cell degradation
  • No emissions from energy production
  • Replaces batteries and mains
  • Discreet design
  • Powered by indoor and outdoor light energy

The technology is based on monocrystalline silicon free from impurities, so the cells do not degrade like traditional solar cells do. This enables a longer lifespan and peak performance, to reduce recycling rates and keep electronics in service.

The partnership

Anglia has invested in a profile of all the most popular cell sizes and formats of Anysolar’s Gen 3 solar cells. The cells offer a viable alternative power source to battery and mains power for simple sensors. The cell range offers power from 5.5 mA to 1.02 A so is suited to a variety of low-power sensor applications.

Commenting on the partnership, David Pearson, Technical Director at Anglia said, “Anglia is delighted to partner with Anysolar for this new product range which complements many of our established lines, such as low power MCU’s and sensors.”

“Anysolar provides a viable alternative power source for many of our customers applications such as remote IoT sensor nodes.”

KY Choi, President of Anysolar, added, “We are delighted to partner with a distributor that is so well-respected in the UK and Ireland industry. We really value our relationships with our customers and look for partners that share that value. Our solar modules offer Anglia customers an environmentally friendly new power source for their designs.”

How it works

A photovoltaic (PV) cell, also known as a solar cell, generates electricity when exposed to light particles (photons). The Anysolar PCB-mounted photovoltaic solar cell line optimises this process with a large surface area and monocrystalline silicon.

The photovoltaic effect is a physical and chemical phenomenon. When applied to electronics, it can be used to power low-power sensors. This reduces energy draw on a device’s core power source to optimise performance and efficiency.

For devices to become autonomous, PCB-mounted photovoltaic solar cells will also be necessary for energy. IoT devices are a good example. These devices require a self-sufficient power source to run separately from the grid.

In the future, it’s expected that IoT devices will be able to run without wires or batteries and light energy provides the best possible solution.

Anglia’s PCB-mounted photovoltaic solar cell line is capable of powering a wide range of sensors in IoT devices, including robots, drones and consumer electronics. Remote IoT sensor nodes (nodes that collect data and information related to objects passing by, such as in autonomous cars) are a good example of components prime for PV cells.

Categories
Electronic Components

NXP Announces i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor line for Intelligent Multi-sensor Applications

NXP Semiconductors has announced a new line of edge processors that deliver a giant leap in performance and security at the edge.

As edge computing rapidly evolves around us and demand for edge computing soars, performance demands are increasing at an exponential rate. This requires a new approach to security, power consumption and performance. Existing edge processors offer a solution now but are not ready for the next generation of real-time data.

Technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and next-gen wireless infrastructure all depend on the edge. NXP Semiconductors is meeting the challenge with new i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor lines.

i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS

The ultra-low power i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS (cloud secured) Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified processors have the EdgeLock secure enclave, a pre-configured security subsystem that simplifies complex security technologies and helps designers avoid costly errors. It automates the following security functions:

  • Root of trust
  • Run-time attestation
  • Trust provisioning
  • Secure boot
  • Key management
  • Cryptographic services

The i.MX 8ULP-CS is Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified with Microsoft Pluton enabled on EdgeLock for highly secure hardware. With Azure Sphere, it has chip-to-cloud security built in, enabling use in a wide range of applications.

Both i.MX processors utilise Energy Flex architecture, which delivers as much as 75% improved energy efficiency compared to previous generations.

They have heterogeneous domain processing and 28nm FD-SOI process technology, making them among the most advanced edge chips in the world. The processors have one or two 1GHz Arm Cortex-A35 processors, a 216MHz Cortex-M33 real-time processor and a 200MHz Fusion DSP for low-power voice and sensor hub processing.

Every Azure Sphere-certified i.MX 8ULP-CS device also gets ongoing OS and security improvements for over ten years.

i.MX 9

The i.MX 9 series is NXP Semiconductors’ range-topping high-performance edge processor for intelligent multi-sensor applications.

The i.MX 9 debuts a new generation of processors that have an independent MCU-like real-time domain and dedicated multi-sensory data processing engines for graphics, image, display, audio and voice. The i.MX 9 series also features EdgeLock secure enclave, Energy Flex architecture and hardware neural processing.

The i.MX 9 is for the next generation of edge computing applications including machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s the first NXP line to use the Arm Ethos U-65 microNPU which enables low-power machine learning.

Importantly, Azure Sphere chip-to-cloud security is enabled within the i.MX 9 line, providing a clear upgrade path from the i.MX 8 series.

EdgeLock secure enclave is the big ticket item of the new processor lines, combining complex security technologies into a single pre-configured platform. With device-wide security intelligence, it provides a simplified path to certification, enabling non-stop trusted management services and applications.

So what?

With the release of these new processors, organisations of any size can now pursue IoT development and real-time technologies with the confidence that NXP and Microsoft have laid out a foundation of security via Microsoft Azure. The low-power requirements and chip-to-cloud security deliver innovation in the right areas.

You can find out more about the processors here.

Categories
component shortage Electronic Components passive components

Is There a Passive Component Shortage?

Passive components include resistors, inductors, capacitors and transformers. They are among the most abundant electronic components in the world, but demand could start to outstrip supply this year in some industries.

To help you grasp the exponential growth of the passive component market, the market was valued at USD 30.98 billion in 2020 and is estimated to reach 39.59 billion by 2026 (Mordor Intelligence). That research cites the automotive industry as the key industry driver and Asia-Pacific as the biggest growth market.

Fact is that the world is getting more technologically advanced. Demand for passive components is only going to increase. You could draw a line now and skip five years from now. The line would shoot up. We’d bet money on it.

A short history of passive components

In 2017, a major surge in demand for standard passive components coupled with raw material shortages led to strained capacity. Resistors and transistors were badly needed, and suppliers were quoting 20-30 weeks.

In 2019, demand balanced out, and for the first few months of 2020 demand and supply were perfectly balanced. Then the COVID pandemic hit.

COVID-19 caused supply chain problems as component manufacturers scaled down operations. Meanwhile, as industries absorbed the effects of COVID-19, demand increased, and this put the industry in a sticky situation.   

Today, demand for passive components has never been higher. The predicted softening of the market some people made in 2020 has not happened. 2021 is set up to be a boom year for passive components. This could cause shortages.

Why is demand so high today?

The reason for this high demand is investment in new technology. Whether it’s electric cars and charging infrastructure, 5G infrastructure, wireless backhaul, IoT or UAVs, demand for certain components is increasing and factories are struggling to keep up.

The good news is that with increased demand comes new investment in factories and manufacturing output. The risk is that the demand for passive components outstrips supply by such an amount that innovation stagnates.  

We don’t think this will happen. However, this may force manufacturers to turn to outdated, legacy components. They can get away with this during prototyping. However, consumer-facing products will need the newest components. This will require a good supply of passive components in 2021 and beyond.

To meet this challenge, inventory management is key. However, sourcing components among fierce competition is a difficult task. You can be outbid and outmanoeuvred when sourcing components. This makes who you know key.

How to deal with the passive component shortage

If 2021 does bring about a passive component shortage, it’s a good idea to have an electronics component supplier like us.

With large stock holdings, global distributor reach, and a sophisticated electronic component search database, Lantek Corporation can find and deliver day-to-day, shortage, hard-to-find components, and obsolete electronic components.

You can buy passive electronic components with confidence from us. Get in touch if you would like a chat about how we can help you. Our team specialises in sourcing electronic components and we work with all manner of customers.

Categories
Demand Electronic Components Lead Time

MLCC supply is beginning to tighten?

Multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) are used in many electronics from smartphone screens to laser guidance systems. There was a prolonged lull in demand for MLCCs stretching from 2019 through to 2020, however supply is now tightening and lead times for new components are extending.

This has caused some concern with those who use MLCCs to manufacture products. Will supply continue to tighten? When will it let up? These are good questions. The answer lies in understanding why supply is tightening.

Demand for MLCCs is tightening for several reasons:

  • Demand from the automotive sector is increasing
  • Demand from the communications and transport sectors is increasing
  • Global inventories are depleting
  • Supply chain challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • Manufacturing bottlenecks due to facilities running at maximum capacity

Increased demand

The main reason for supply tightening is an increased demand from the communications and transport sectors. These sectors consume over half of the world’s MLCC supply and the rollout of 5G is accelerating demand.

The global automotive market is also a big consumer of MLCCs. MLCCs are being used extensively in modern cars. Applications include in battery management, chargers, heater controllers and energy converters. Electric cars use MLCCs because they are reliable and can be surface mounted directly to boards.

Inventory depletion

Inventory management has been a difficult task what with 2020 throwing COVID-19 into the works. This hit the MLCC supply chain like a train. Demand dropped off. This led to suppliers correcting inventory levels and sometimes overcorrecting. When demand increased towards the back end of 2020, supply chains got exposed.

It is difficult to correct inventory when not enough MLCCs are being made. For every 10 that are made 8 get put into use immediately. This leaves little fat left.

Increasing lead times

All of this means increased lead times for MLCCs. Many electronic components suppliers and distributors have them on back order. Some types of MLCC have lead times extending over several months (a long time in a supply chain).

For example, large case (≥ 0603) low-CV commercial grade MLCC lead times are around 22 weeks. This is a very long time. The only units that are in good supply are small case size (≤ 0402) low-CV commercial grade MLCCs which are available now.

How can you meet demand?

As 2021 gets underway, we predict that MLCC supply will tighten. Inventories will get stretched and manufacturers will struggle to get a hold of the components they need. Now that you know this, you can prepare.

The best way to assure a healthy MLCC supply is to work with a global distribution partner like us. When you need to source hard to find electronic components quickly because of allocation, long lead times, obsolescence, or quality issues, Lantek is here to help. We will work with you to source the MLCCs you need. View our home page to use our component search tool and enquire with us today https://www.lantekcorp.com/

We work with all industry sectors, including the communications, transport and automotive sectors, to source electronic components. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts with on time delivery.

Categories
Lead Time Forecast

2021 Top Manufacturers Lead Time Forecast

Click the image below to download our full Lead Time PDF

 
Categories
Electronic Components Semiconductor Transistors

Chipageddon is upon us

Semiconductors go unseen yet they are at the heart of all our electronics. When supplies run short manufacturing lines slow down and the availability of products is affected. Last year had several examples, some of which may have affected you.

AMD’s Radeon RX 6800 XT GPU was released in December but got nowhere close to meeting demand. Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X sold out immediately and are rarer than hen’s teeth today. Even Apple admitted that the chip shortage affected sales of the iPhone 12 because they had to stagger product launches.

Then, near Christmas, the word “Chipageddon” was used by an automotive industry insider to describe the chip shortage affecting the automotive industry.

Chipageddon

It’s easy to overreact about things, but today’s chip shortage is worth getting in a sweat about. Supply and demand is faltering, and manufacturers are genuinely struggling to get the chips they need to make products.

Supply and demand is a basic economics model linking the relationship between the quantity of a commodity available and the quantity people want to buy to price determination. When supply exceeds demand, prices increase. When the opposite happens, prices decrease. It’s easy enough to understand.  

If you’re still with us, the chip shortage has had two main impacts:

  • Fewer chips are available
  • Prices for chips are increasing

This is a double whammy. It means manufacturers are making fewer products and paying more to make them. These costs DO get passed to you, the consumer. It’s the reason why you see random 10% increases in smartphone prices.

You also have the issue of foundries running at max capacity coupled to the low number of foundries that manufacture the newest wafers.

Industries worst hit

By far the worst-hit industry by a chip shortage is the automotive industry. The world’s largest carmakers are facing a critical shortage of semiconductors at a time when demand is increasing, and cars are getting smarter.

Today’s cars have as many as 50 semiconductors that run a variety of systems. In a few years, this number is expected to increase to over 100. 60 million cars are produced each year worldwide. It means the industry needs 3,000,000,000 semiconductors, an enormous number whichever way you look at it.

Another industry hit hard by a chip shortage is consumer electronics. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung are struggling to meet demand because there are not enough semiconductors to go around. Sony and Microsoft can’t manufacture as many game consoles as they need to because of lack of supply.

What’s the solution?

Chipmakers need to expand capacity and build more factories. Manufacturers need to consider alternatives to primary component suppliers. The issue is that chip fabrication plants take two years to set up and a low-quality chip can stop an expensive product from shipping. This is as much a quality demand issue as a supply one.

One way you can make sure you have the chips you need is to partner with an electronic component distributor like us. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts for a wide variety of industries.

Call: +1 973-579-8100

Email:sales@Lantekcorp.com

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

New construction of the smallest microchips using graphene nano-origami

Material science and clever engineering has cut the space between components on microchips to nanometres. This has led to significant performance benefits because more components can fit on the chip.

However, there is a limit to how small things can go with current chip design. 7nm is as small as chips will go from here based on existing technology. Why? Because 7nm is the gap between components on a chip. This space is tiny. Going smaller isn’t feasible because we’re working with spaces that are too small.

It’s also incredibly expensive. Prototyping a 7nm chip costs around £80 million and there are only a handful of companies that can do it.

Graphene ‘nano-origami’ to the rescue

Graphene is a nanomaterial one atom thick. It has been talked about as a revolutionary material for over a decade and now experimental researchers have used it to develop the world’s tiniest microchips using a form of ‘nano-origami’.

The world’s tiniest microchips are 100 times smaller than silicon chips and thousands of times faster. The way they work is instead of having transistors on them, the graphene has kinks in the structure and these kinks act as the transistors.

On this breakthrough, Prof Alan Dalton in the School of Mathematical and Physics Sciences at the University of Sussex, said:

“We’re mechanically creating kinks in a layer of graphene. It’s a bit like nano-origami. Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster.

It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology. Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future.”

Is graphene the future of microchips?

Researchers are calling this breakthrough nano-origami technology “straintronics”. It uses nanomaterials as opposed to electronics, eliminating the need for electronic components on the chip. This makes the chips 100 times smaller.

Another benefit to graphene microchips is speed. Graphene conducts electricity 250 times faster than silicon. In fact, it conducts electricity faster than any known substance. It truly is a ‘space-age’ nanomaterial for today.

Instead of building microchips with foreign materials like transistors, researchers have shown another way of doing things. By creating kinks in graphene, structures can be made that replace electronic components including transistors and logic gates.

Another benefit to graphene nano-origami is sustainability. No additional materials are added during the manufacturing process. Production also takes place at room temperature as opposed to high temperature with silicon chips.

The truth is that silicon microchips cannot feasibly go below 7nm. The next step in performance evolution with silicon chips will come from heat management and power density. Graphene is smaller, faster and just as capable. The next step is for manufacturers to develop the technology and take it to market.

Overall, while the immediate future is silicon, we are in no doubt that graphene is the future of microchips. It has too many performance advantages to ignore.   

Categories
Covid-19 Electronic Components Supply Chain

Electronic component supply chain efficiency. Will we see another increase in supply and demand due to COVID-19 this year?

In 2020, the electronics components industry saw both increases and decreases in supply and demand depending on where you look.

For example, demand for semiconductors that enable servers, connectivity and cloud usage skyrocketed due to stay at home workforces. Meanwhile, demand for semiconductors used in the automotive industry declined as car sales fell.

In other words, the supply and demand for electronic components was different across various sectors. Now that 2020 is behind us, 2021 is looking to follow much the same path as we continue to contend with COVID-19.

However, there will be one big difference – most of the sectors that had reduced demand for components in 2020 will ramp up their purchase orders in 2021. This is the result of economies opening up and companies getting back to operations.

Supply and demand in 2021

We believe the electronic component industry will witness a significant increase in supply and demand in 2021. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that most industries hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic will open up. Car manufacturing is the big one. This will fuel a surge in demand for semiconductors and sensors.

2021 will also play host to cyclical sectors and several tailwinds. 5G, Wi-Fi 6, AI, robotics, cloud, communications, edge computing and AR / VR are the big ones. These technologies will fuel demand for new electronic components.

Supply constraints will persist

Factories will have to ramp up production to meet demand. 2019 was a bumper year for electronics and a lot of infrastructure was built to meet demand. 2020 stuck a fork in the road, placing higher demand on certain components. In 2021, demand will return to a form of previous normality, increasing supply constraints.

We expect supply constraints of components to grow in 2021. Manufacturers will struggle to get a hold of the parts they need.

This will increase the need for partnerships with electronic component distributors like us who are ingrained into the fabric of the industry.

Things will get better over time

With the global rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in place and manufacturing sectors protected from Government shutdowns in most countries, 2021 should be a year where we see supply constraints reduce over time.

Supply and demand will get back to 80% normality toward the end of 2021. 2022 should be much better. This assumes we get to grips with this horrible virus.

In the meantime, tailwinds will continue to fuel demand for electronic components in sectors like AI and edge computing. COVID-19 has only accelerated digital transformation in most sectors. This is a powerful tailwind.

Ultimately, the demand for passive and active components will increase in 2021. You can make sure you have access to the components you need by partnering with us. We specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts for a wide variety of industries from the world’s leading manufacturers.

Categories
Electronic Components Environment

How does recycling electronics help create sustainability within the industry?

Thanks to advancements in material science and recycling technologies, it’s possible to recycle around 80% of most new electronics. For example, the smartphone in your hand or pocket has around 80% recyclable components.

The most valuable components in electronics are rare and precious metals. The quantity of these metals in your phone is tiny but the number of phones (and other electronics) that enter landfill is huge. This creates a lucrative opportunity for recyclers to invest in processes that can extract the most valuable components efficiently.

Recycling in the electronics industry

Recycling electronics is important to not only reduce e-waste, but also our dependency on the mining and manufacturing of new materials. 

The electronics industry is at odds with environmentalists because the industry that’s pioneering solar and renewable energy technologies generates a lot of e-waste. You can’t have it both ways. If you want technology to fight climate change, it first has to advance to a point where it becomes neutral and self-sustained.

Mass recycling is the process that will enable this in the future. For now, it is a stop-gap to minimise the electronics industry’s impact on the environment. And it’s working, with 15% of e-waste recycled globally in 2019. This figure is rising by 2-3% per year. In 2030 we expect the global e-waste recycling rate to hit 50%.

European legislation requires every manufacturer and producer to arrange and finance the collection, treatment, recycling and disposal of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). This is a positive step. In the future, we want to see 100% recycling efficiency, although this will require different materials to those used today.

Excess inventory management

Another area of the electronics industry where recycling is important is excess electronic components. These components are not assigned for manufacturing and have no purpose in production. They take up space and are depreciating assets.

These components tend to be discarded and written off. However, recycling is not the best thing for them. The best thing for them is putting them back into production. The old phrase “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” springs to mind.

This process is known as excess inventory management and it requires an electronic component distributor to purchase unwanted stockpiles of components. These stockpiles are then re-sold through a distribution network.

This provides a few benefits to the seller:

  • An instant, positive cash injection
  • Reduced stockholding costs
  • Reduced time spent managing surplus stock

For example, our excess inventory specialists purchase and manage stock that has been identified for disposition. This process turns unwanted electronic components into cash and introduces new revenue streams into existing businesses.

Where does excess inventory end up?

Most excess inventory ends up on the production line with manufacturers and OEMs to create new products. This puts the components into production and significantly increases the time from manufacture to end of life.

Other components can find no end user. In this case, the components are sent to specialist recycling centres who purchase the components as scrap. Around 10% of excess inventory is sent on for recycling. The majority enters production.

Categories
Electronic Components

What does 2021 hold for the electronic components industry?

The coronavirus pandemic hit the electronic components industry like a freight train, knocking supply and demand for six. Now that 2021 is upon us, economies are starting to open up with pinned hopes on vaccines. This could be a banana skin, but 2021 should be a calmer year overall. The world should get back to business.

2021 in a nutshell

The avenues shut down for raw materials and shipments of electronic components will begin to open back up in 2021. This will create a healthier supply and demand market than 2020. Some issues will remain. Component shortages are likely, and this is especially true of newer parts that are found in connected devices.

Semiconductors will lead demand

The semiconductor industry saw a significant increase in global chip demand in 2020 and this will only continue in 2021. Cyclicity driven by 5G and Wi-Fi 6 upgrades and tailwinds like edge computing, AI and AR / VR will fuel demand.

Who will benefit most? Our money is on Broadcom, Arm, Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, Nvidia and Skyworks with TSMC winning on the foundry side.

DRAM will follow the path of semis

Dynamic random access memory (DRAM) is as essential to connected technologies as semiconductors. 2020 saw a sharp increase in recovery from the first quarter, and 2021 will exhibit a similarly healthy supply and demand situation.

Who will benefit most? Samsung, Micron and SK Hynix, who are the first, second and third largest manufacturers of DRAM respectively.

Shutdowns will continue

The risk of shutdowns of component production because of the coronavirus will remain in 2021. This will create extended lead times and supply issues. Governments may be forced to shutdown factories in localised areas.

The good news is this will become less common as the year goes on. The pandemic’s impact on production will reduce over time.

Tailwinds will fuel more demand than cyclicity

When evaluating electronic component demand, cyclicity and tailwinds are often pitched against each other. In 2021, we expect tailwinds like AI, edge computing, robotics and VR / AR to fuel greater growth than cyclical upgrades.

This is a sign of the times. The world is getting more connected and smarter. Innovation will fuel tailwinds and create booming tech sectors.

Counterfeiters will grow more prolific

One of the sad realities of electronic components is counterfeit components. They are becoming more sophisticated. As manufacturers clamber to get stock in this year, they are at a high risk of being targeted by counterfeiters.

Companies should rigorously control purchase sources, conduct quality inspections and use a trusted distribution partner to combat these risks.

Looking to the future

In 2020, the electronic components industry handled the coronavirus pandemic in an efficient and calculated manner. Supply and demand issues hit the industry, but they were solved for the most part in good time.

2021 will be calmer for several reasons: 1) We now have a lived experience of the coronavirus and know how to manage shutdowns efficiently, and 2) There is an increased need for us to get back to work and get on with our lives.

Categories
Electronic Components Environment

How Lantek help tackle environmental issues in the electronics industry

There’s no industry as polarising as the electronics industry when it comes to the environment. This is the industry that generates 70% of all toxic waste on the planet, yet it’s also the industry that’s pioneering renewable energy to address climate change.

The best way to look at the electronics industry from an environmental point of view is as a work in progress. We know that the industry is facing several environmental challenges now and in the future. The question is, how should we respond to them?

We are a global electronic component distributor, supplying electronic components to global customers. Our position in the industry has given us a unique perspective of the environmental challenges it faces. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the challenges we are facing and how we are addressing them.

Improper component storage

One of the biggest problems in the electronics components industry is the lack of environmentally-controlled storage facilities.

The biggest danger to electronic components is humidity which has to be controlled to ensure the components do not degrade. Problems like moisture absorption and contact corrosion have to be considered in storage.

Lantek only operates environmentally-controlled storage facilities. Our facilities are designed to ISO 9001 standards. ISO 9001 is the international standard that sets out the requirements for a quality management system.

Delivery emissions

Electronic components and electronic devices are shipped via land, sea and air. Some packages find their way in transit covering several countries in a single day. This generates unavoidable emissions as a natural by-product of operating.

These emissions can be reduced or offset in a few ways. The simplest way is to always use the most efficient transit methods and logistics firms that offset their emissions. This means the sender doesn’t have to offset their own emissions.

We go with this method because it allows us to meet our environmental obligations while also ensuring a high-quality delivery service.

Electronic waste (e-waste)

Electronic waste is the biggest issue facing the electronics industry. Only around 20% of e-waste is recycled each year. The rest enters landfill. It accounts for 70% of all toxic waste on the planet, which is an astonishing figure.

Lantek is helping to reduce the amount of electronic waste that enters landfill by putting components that would otherwise enter landfill back into use.

You’d be surprised by the number of components we save that are new old stock. We save hundreds of thousands of components each year. Many of these are rare legacy electronic components that are no longer being made.

Looking ahead

The electronics industry gave you the smartphone in your hand and the internet that connects you to this article. There’s no denying it’s an immeasurably valuable industry and our future will have more technology. That’s a certainty.

As civilisation becomes more reliant on technology, we will develop technologies that address the industry’s biggest environmental challenges. In particular, we hope to see a significant reduction in e-waste and emissions soon. For now, the future is what we make of it, and we’re optimistic about what the future holds.

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Electronic Components

How to avoid counterfeit components with Lantek

Counterfeit electronic components are a plague on the electronics industry and they are an ongoing problem with no solution. The companies behind counterfeit components are unstoppable because their factories rise faster than they can be shut down. The market is set for them to continue operating forever.

Counterfeit components are problematic because they are more likely to malfunction than genuine components. They can also be dangerous.

Looking at the bigger picture, eliminating counterfeit components from your supply chain is important for social responsibility and corporate governance.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to reduce and eliminate counterfeit components in your supply chain. Here’s where we would start:

  1. Partner with a trusted electronic component distributor

Electronic component distributors like Lantek, we verify the legitimacy of electronic components before payment. By using us or another trusted distributor, you can assure the legitimacy of the components in your supply chain.

Another benefit to using Lantek is we can find hard to find components in countries where counterfeits are common. Our ability to source genuine parts in haystacks of counterfeits makes us a valuable partner.

  1. Rigorously control purchase sources

If you don’t use an electronic component distributor, you should still rigorously control your purchase sources. Your sources should be vetted, and new sources should be verified, to ensure they are reputable and reliable.

We strongly recommend working with industry leaders where possible. If you have to use smaller suppliers, this is fine so long as you can trust them. Either way, it’s crucial for your sources to have full security over their products.

  1. Conduct your own rigorous quality inspections

One of the mistakes companies make with counterfeit components is assuming that the genuine shipment hasn’t been tampered with. It is common practice for counterfeiters to intercept and replace genuine components with fakes. The main reason they do this is so they can jeopardize the reputation of others.

We recommend conducting your own quality inspections when you receive your products, which may require you to test bulk batches.

Some of the common giveaways of counterfeit components include:

  • Colour variances
  • Misspellings and incorrect labelling
  • Mismatched date codes
  • Duplicate date codes and labels
  • Missing items
  • Poor packaging and quality control
  • Font variances
  • Country of origin problems
  • Signs of “resurfacing”
  • Failure in tests and performance issues

Click here to view Lanteks 8 Step guide to avoid Counterfeits

You can use this list to check your own components.

  1. Source components from ERAI members

ERAI (Electronic Resellers Association International) is the world leader in counterfeit components mitigation. Members of this organisation are required to be legitimate with a minimum of 10 trade references and no unresolved complaints.

The ERAI has a database and ERAI supply chain risk mitigation solutions. This means the distributors have specialised training and systems to detect, report and deal with counterfeit components.

If you are concerned you have counterfeit components in your supply chain, we’re happy to provide advice. Email us sales@lantekcorp.com or call 1-973-579-8100

Categories
Electronic Components

The Benefits of Electronic Component testing

The Benefits of Electronic Component testing

Electronic component testing is an essential stage in your supply chain to ensure that the components you purchase are genuine and perform as expected. Without testing, you could end up with any old components.

Testing will safeguard you from counterfeit goods, prevent costly recalls, and help assure your manufacturing capability.

We provide electronic component testing as part of our service, inspecting and testing components upon delivery to us and prior to shipment to you. We do this for a few reasons, which we’ll take a closer look at below.

Testing prevents counterfeit components from entering your supply chain

One of the biggest challenges the electronic components industry faces is the increasing number of sophisticated counterfeiters. These counterfeiters build factories faster than they can be shut down, creating a problem that gets bigger over time.

As an electronic component distributor, we source components for our customers. This means we are at a high risk of counterfeits. There are several ways we mitigate this risk, and the number #1 way is with electronic component testing.

Component testing takes place within our own warehouses. We only use ESD-qualified personnel and procedures set out by ISO9001:2015. We also use a variety of procedures, including IC testing using a sentry machine which tests the electrical signature (PinPrint) of components to ensure they are genuine.

Testing ensures that the components you receive function as intended

One of the great things about modern manufacturing techniques is the quality of components is consistently high. Sure, you get bad batches now and again that lead to recalls, but by and large the components from top OEMs are consistently good. This is why we like to source components from leading manufacturers.

Of course, some components will be duds. Testing helps to catch these duds, so they don’t enter your supply chain. This is critically important if you don’t conduct your own testing, so that product recalls as a result of dodgy components don’t happen.

Testing is a key part of circuit design and this is especially true of PCBs and integrated circuits. Not all components need to be tested, but those that are prone to interference and damage from external elements should be tested.

Testing saves you from costly product recalls as a result of bad components

Leading on from our points about testing with regards to product recalls and counterfeit components, it is a fact that bad components (be them malfunctioning or counterfeits) are bad for business. They will cost you money.

At Lantek, we specialise in testing electronic components to ensure they are genuine and function as intended. We conduct these tests as part of our service, acting as a component distribution partner to other businesses.  

Our ties with leading OEMs and distributors means we can source electronic components from all over the world, including end of life and rare components. The quality of our work and our network means we can offer a 1-year quality guarantee. This is a guarantee that we will replace components that fail manufacturer standards.

Categories
Electronic Components

How to deal with electronic component obsolescence

With technologies advancing at such a rapid rate, the rate of electronic component obsolescence is as high as it has ever been. OEMs have their work cut out to keep up with an industry where demand for electronic components is under increasing pressure as a result of innovation across the entire electronics industry.

Understanding the risks of obsolescence

Component obsolescence is bound to happen in time because all components have a diminishing lifespan. All components become obsolete eventually.

However, the rate of component obsolescence is increasing over time. This means the challenges facing you are growing.

Dealing with electronic component obsolescence

Now that you know obsolescence is nailed-on given a large enough timeframe, how can you deal with the challenge when you face it? Here’s some tips:

  1. Understand why obsolescence happens

The three main reasons for electronic component obsolescence include short product life cycles, innovation and increased demand.

A combination of these creates the perfect storm. A great example of this storm is with semiconductors, which are advancing at a rapid rate.

Which reasons for obsolescence will affect you the most? By understanding this, you can prepare properly for the future.

  1. If you are designing a product, look into longevity

The best defence against obsolescence is designing products that use components that are not expected to become obsolete during your product’s lifecycle.

You can assure longevity in a few ways:

  • Review the ‘Production Status’ of the component
  • Ask your supplier about component longevity
  • Look at the datasheet creation date – if it’s several years old, this could be an indication that the part may be due an upgrade sometime soon

Even when a component is due to become obsolete, it could be several years before this happens. This insight will be invaluable to your business.

  1. Get to the bottom of the type of obsolescence

If you get a notification that a component you use is becoming obsolete, take a step back and look into the reason why this is the case.

You can do this by looking at the PCN (Product Change Notification) which will provide the technical information you need.

If the component is a passive component, then there’s a good chance you will be able to source an equivalent component. If the component is an active component, you may have to upgrade to a newer component.

  1. How to deal with obsolescence when it happens

You have three options when dealing with obsolete components:

  • Equivalence – this is when you look for an equivalent component. You can cross reference many components, such as semiconductors, to find exact equivalents. You should review the datasheets to ensure cross compatibility.
  • Design – this is when you work with an OEM to manufacture a component on your behalf. It carries high cost but reduced risk because the component is unique to you. NANDs and micro-controllers are common examples.
  • Use old stock – somewhere in the world, there’s probably the component you need in storage. This is available if you can find it. An electronic component distributor is your best friend in this scenario to get the components you need.

If you are struggling to source your obsolete or hard to find electronic components Lantek is here to help. 

Contact us today.

Call: 1-973-579-8100

Email: Sales@Lantekcorp.com 

Website: lantekcorp.com 

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

Active and passive components to see strong 5G-driven demand

As the international rollout of 5G picks up pace, active and passive component demand is increasing at a rate of knots.

The buildout of 5G infrastructure requires significant investment in active and passive components for a wide range of different devices.

Examples include active antennas with integrated RF radio designs, small cell power base stations, C-RAN architecture and semiconductors.

One of the challenges faced with the 5G rollout this year has been COVID-19, which had immediate effects on global supply in demand. Some of the side effects included increased costs, a slowdown in logistics, and a squeeze on demand.

While these challenges were significant in early 2020 and are likely to remain for some time, the macroeconomics are unlikely to persist in their worst form.

Right now, the manufacturing sector in most countries is bouncing back fast and many manufacturers are having their best ever quarter.

A good example is Taiwan Semiconductor, who are the largest semiconductor foundry in the world. Then you have smaller but vital players like MaxLinear, who make wireless, PON, DSL, and terrestrial products for high-speed internet.

How 5G is driving demand for active and passive components

You can think of 5G as a tide that is going to raise all ships, and active and passive components manufacturers are the ships that will benefit from it most because they will make the components that build out the 5G infrastructure.

It’s easy to see why this is the case with a short list of active and passive components. Let’s start with examples of passive components first:

  • Resistors
  • Inductors
  • Capacitors
  • Transformers

Now let’s list a few active components:

  • Generators
  • Transistors
  • Diodes
  • Inductors / coils

Now let’s look at a few of the components that will build out 5G:

  • Semiconductors
  • Antennas
  • Radio towers
  • RF receivers
  • Fibreoptic cable

Looking at these lists, it’s easy to see why 5G is driving such strong demand for active and passive components.

Can the components sector keep pace?

There are so many different manufacturers of electronic components that it is unlikely that the rollout of 5G will trouble the manufacturing sector.

However, local supply problems may exist for some enterprises. For example, a supplier of radio frequency devices in China may have to temporary shut production at a factory due to a fire or a health hazard. This would affect supply.

The best way for those involved in the rollout of 5G to safeguard their supply of active and passive components is to use an electronic component distributor. Electronic component distributor specialise in the procurement and delivery of electronic components and parts, so they can ensure you always have what you need.

A faster, more connected future awaits

5G will revolutionise our use of the internet in more ways than one, but the buildout is going to take time. Demand for active and passive components is at an all-time high, and competition is increasing for the best components. Having a component distributor on your side is a good way to ensure you can meet the challenge.

Click Here to use our fast component search and enquire with us today!

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

What does the future hold for the electronic component industry?

The future of the electronic component industry looks very healthy indeed thanks to tailwinds from 5G, robotics and automation, artificial intelligence, edge computing and several other emerging technologies.

A few of the companies destined to benefit from the advancement of these technologies include Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics, Würth Elektronik, Eaton Corp, Micron, MaxLinear, Hitachi and Qualcomm. There are hundreds more who are operating foundries and factories at maximum capacity to meet demand already.

Key to meeting the demand is an increase in manufacturing capability, which many companies will have to build through capital expenditure. We are already seeing an increase in investment from many of the aforementioned companies.

As for electronic component distributors, the phrase “a rising tide raises all ships” is a perfect expression. Component distributors like us will see an increase in demand in the future as our world becomes more technology-focussed.

These are the technologies that we see fuelling electronic component growth in the near future (we already mentioned a few in our opening paragraph):

  • 5G
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Big data
  • Edge computing
  • AI
  • Robotics
  • Biotechnology
  • Batteries and power
  • Displays
  • Semiconductors and GPUs
  • Automated driving
  • Consumer electronics: VR, AR, smartphones, tablets

Every infrastructure, and every product, will need a unique set of electronic components in its design. Factories and foundries will make the components, and electric component distributors will help manufacturers source them.

Meeting the uptick in demand

There’s one certainty in the electronics industry: demand on components increases as technologies become more complex. We see this with semiconductors, which are getting smaller (2nm), with 5G, which requires more components than 4G, and in robotics, which require powerful Lidar guidance systems.

To meet this uptick in demand, there are companies that specialise in making specific components and machines.

For example, Axcelis Technologies, headquartered in Beverly, Massachusetts, makes ion implant equipment vital to semiconductor fabrication. Then we have Micron, who recently announced high-density 3D NAND flash memory.

The innovation and investment in new technologies from leading companies is a clear sign that the electronic component industry is not just healthy, but thriving, despite the disruption caused by COVID-19.

The role of electronic component distributors

Our place in all this as an electronic component distributor is to help our customers (who include OEMs, foundries, factories and assemblers) to source the components they need to operate their business.

We are crucial to our customers because we are a global distributor. We enable industry players to buy electronic components with confidence at competitive prices, and our links in the industry allow our customers to gain a competitive edge.

As demand has increased for electronic components, competition has intensified, and it really isn’t uncommon for companies to have to bid for components. This is the result of a market that doesn’t produce enough components for certain applications. We exist to help all companies source the components they need.

With us, you get a fast response to your enquiries and reliable on time delivery. There’s no better partner to have on your side.

Click Here and visit our site today to use our fast component search tool and enquire with us today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Electronic Components Technology Transistors

The multimodal transistor (MMT) is a new design philosophy for electronics

Researchers from the University of Surrey and University of Rennes have developed a technology called the multimodal transistor (MMT), which could revolutionise electronics by simplifying circuits and increasing design freedom.

The multimodal transistor is a thin-film transistor that performs the same job as more complex circuits. The MMT sandwiches metals, insulators and semiconductors together in a package that’s considerably thinner than a normal circuit.

However, the key breakthrough with the MMT is its immunity to parasitic effects (unwanted oscillations). The MMT allows consistent, repeatable signals, increasing a transistor’s performance. This is necessary for precision circuits to function as intended and is especially useful for next-gen tech like AI and robotics.

How it works

In the image below, we can see the design of the MMT. CG1 provides the means to control the quantity of charge, while CG2 is the channel control gate. CG1 controls the current level and CG2 controls the on/off state.

This is a massive shift in transistor design because it enables far greater engineering freedom. It is a simple and elegant design, yet it is so useful. It has numerous applications in analogue computation and hardware learning.

Digital-to-analogue conversion

MOSFET transistors are one of the building blocks of modern electronics, but they are non-linear and inefficient.

In a conventional circuit, gate electrodes are used to control a transistor’s ability to pass current. The MMT works differently. Instead of using gate electrodes, it controls on/off switching independently from the amount of current that passes through. This allows the MMT to operate at a higher speed with a linear dependence between input and output. This is useful for digital-to-analogue conversion.

The breakthrough in all its glory

The MMT transforms the humble transistor into a linear device that delivers a linear dependence between input and output. It separates charge injection from conduction, a new design that achieves independent current on/off switching.

There is a profound increase in switching speed as a result of this technology, enabling engineers to develop faster electronics. Researchers estimate that the switching speed is as much as 10 times faster. Also, fewer transistors are needed, increasing the yield rate and reducing the cost to manufacture the circuit.  

Just how revolutionary the MMT will be remains to be seen. After all, this is a technology without commercialisation. It could find its way into the electronics we use on a daily basis, like our phones. The potential is for the MMT to be printable, allowing for mass production and integration into billions of electrical devices.

With devices getting smarter and digital transformation advancing at a rapid rate, the electronics industry is booming. Semiconductor foundries are at peek capacity and more electrical devices are being sold than ever. The MMT is a unique solution to a problem, and it could make manufacturing electronics cheaper.   

With this, comes a great opportunity for the MMT to replace MOSFET transistors. We can think of few other design philosophies with such wicked potential.

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Electronic Components Technology

How “Chiplets” May Help the Future of Semiconductor Technology

The global demand for semiconductors is accelerating faster than a speeding bullet, with integrated device manufacturers, systems companies, and foundries like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company making a killing.

This accelerating demand is largely fuelled by the rollout of 5G infrastructure and the increasingly connected devices we use on a daily basis. From semi-autonomous driving aids to the connected home, semiconductors power our digital lives. They are the brains of every smart electronics operation.

In the semiconductor industry, advancements come fast. Some companies have been painfully slow to react to change. Intel is a good example – they have fluffed the development of their 7nm chips and are stuck at 12nm, while AMD already has 7nm chips and is on course to deliver a 5nm chip. Nvidia is even further ahead.  

Chiplets

Chiplets are a proven (but niche) way for semiconductor developers to make semiconductors more efficient and easier to produce.

As semiconductors get more advanced, they get smaller. At a sub 10nm scale, foundries have to be spotlessly clean. This brings with it manufacturing complexities. Also, the smaller transistors get, the more likely they are to fail.

You can increase the yield of dies with small transistors by reducing overall size. But as you reduce the size of the die, you have less space for the transistors.

So, one solution is Chiplets. Chiplets are smaller functional dies that integrate multiple chiplets into a single semiconductor. By giving functions their own circuits (sub-circuits) we can remove design complexity and focus on efficiency.

Maximising yield reduces cost

Using chiplets maximises the yield of dies and reduces design complexity, which in turn reduces manufacturing cost. To give you an idea of by how much, AMD says chiplet designs can cut costs by more than half. 50%! That’s an astonishing saving and worth the effort if it also means keeping up with technological change.

(For what it’s worth, AMD uses chiplet design in its Zen 2 and Ryzen chips. The idea being that taking smaller dies and putting them together improves yield).

Intel is also a fan of chiplet design, and they have a vision for advancing it further, where instead of multiple dies, each IP has its own building block. This creates a more modular and flexible configuration. Here’s an illustration:

chiplet internal image

This is an exciting technology because the chiplets with IP/SOC are considerably smaller than the chiplets used in multiple dies. The benefit of this is you can configure the chiplets in more ways and maintain a common architecture.

Chiplets – the future, or not?

Chiplet design is already being used by AMD, and Nvidia has said they will go chiplet when it’s economically viable to do so. This means two of the three biggest CPU and GPU companies on the planet are on the chiplet train. As for Intel, they are too – but it looks like they will go their own way to build the chiplet model they want.

Clearly, chiplets are here to stay. Scaling chips with monolithic dies will always be a thing, but it gets expensive with advanced nodes. Chiplets are necessary to break up the cost and deliver the massive number of chips our connected world needs.

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

Amazon One: An easier way for you to pay using your palm

Contactless payments are the most convenient way to pay for things. Whipping out a contactless payment card and paying without entering a pin number saves time, and the ability to save cards to Google Pay or Apple Pay on your smartphone and use NFC to make contactless payments makes life easier too.

It’s all very slick and useful, but there’s a limitation to the current technology: you need to have your card or your smartphone in your hand.

If you have ever forgotten your wallet when you pop to the shops or left your phone in the car when you go shopping, the problem is clear to see: your reliance on a device (be it a card or phone) to make payments is a hindrance.

So, wouldn’t it be great if you could just use your hand? That’s what Amazon One aims to do, and it offers a glimpse into an exciting future.

Payments in the palm of your hand (literally)

Amazon One is a new contactless payment technology that uses your palm as a form of biometric signature. All you do is scan your palm over an Amazon One payment module and payment is authorised if your palm print checks out.

Forget about your card and phone. All you need is your palm.

The technology is ingeniously simple in use, and it is so useful, and so convenient, that it could replace cash and cards in the future.         

To set up Amazon One, you insert a payment card into the module and hover your palm over the sensor when prompted. Amazon One then scans and saves your unique palm signature to that payment card. You can enroll with one palm or both your palms. Once you are enrolled, you needn’t do anything else.

Security concerns and rollout

The obvious security concern with Amazon One is customer data, and the question you probably have is: where is my palm print stored?

The Amazon One device is protected by multiple security controls. For example, the technology driving the imaging sensor uses depth sensors to differentiate between artificial models and images. Palm images are also stored in a secure data environment, encrypted so that the data is useless if it ever falls into the wrong hands.

You can delete your biometric data via the Amazon website. You can manage palm images and add new ones using a module. You can even add loyalty and discount cards, so you have the opportunity to break free from your whole wallet.

With such exciting possibilities, Amazon One is in the best hands in terms of development and rollout (excuse the pun). Amazon has a rich history of bringing top products to market. There’s a reason they are one of the most valuable companies in the world.

You can find Amazon One in Amazon Go stores in Seattle, where a trial is being performed to evaluate the technology. It has worked brilliantly so far, and Amazon’s vision is for it to be rolled out to third-party retailers in the near future.

Soon, you’ll have the whole wide retail world in your hands.

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Charity/Global Electronic Components

How the electronic supply chain has been divided by COVID-19

 

Amidst doom and gloom predictions of global economic fallout from COVID-19 and further human and social ramifications, the electronics industry is quietly confident that demand for products will not stall this year or shortly.

This makes for a morale-boosting headline, but underneath the battle lines, there is a trade war raging as a result of a divided supply chain.

Equipment manufacturers are struggling to get a hold of components and component manufacturers are struggling to make enough new components. This, the result of a virus that has thrown the world into unchartered territory and forced elected leaders into making profound decisions that have affected our way of life.

The electronics sector is healthy for now, but keeping it going has required change and intelligent thinking. This is how the electronic supply chain has been divided by COVID-19:

The battle for stock

With the production capacity for electronic components down as a result of COVID-19, it is no surprise that the components’ supply chain has been impacted. Fewer components are being made, creating a shortage of stock.

As a result of this, we are now seeing a shift in behavior from manufacturers, who are component hoarding and paying over-the-odds for stock to meet demand. This has reduced the number of components available on the open market, creating a shortage, and the issue is compounded by a lack of new production.

Supply moving away from China

As a result of the coronavirus in China, which has devastated the workforce and adversely impacted the country’s social reputation, manufacturers are beginning to seek alternatives to meet the demand for electronic components.

Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, the United States, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Germany are all rich manufacturers of electronic components. We are now seeing greater diversification in supply chains. This is good news for the global economy, but not so much for China and Hong Kong.

Changes in supply chain planning

COVID-19 has forced manufacturers to pivot their supply chains to boost efficiency. From being more flexible with transportation to estimating capacity and accelerating production, manufacturers are doubling up on decision-making processes.

The optimization of production and distribution capacity are key areas, so that production can continue to meet demand while managing health. Available inventory has now become a more important factor than ever too – no longer can manufacturers rely on a steady supply of components. Orders must be planned.

Closer partnerships with electronic component distributors

Pre COVID, manufacturers typically kept the procurement of electronic components in-house with a slick and efficient operation. Inventory would be automatically updated with component orders placed electronically between supplier and manufacturer.

If COVID has taught manufacturers one thing, however, it is that you can never rely on one single supplier to deliver. One failure breaks the system.

This has led manufacturers to partner with component distributors who can deliver the stock they need. The sourcing of components is being increasingly outsourced, which brings some inefficiencies, but is necessary to keep things ticking over. 

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Technology

Facebook is going to put smart glasses on your face in 2021

You may recall that several years ago (back in 2013 to be exact), Google brought out Google Glass, a brand of smart glasses that used touch and voice commands to interact with online content, display directions, and act as a phone. The product wasn’t a massive success, but it did kickstart a consumer-focused AR arm’s race.

When we talk about AR or augmented reality, with regards to glasses we mean eyewear with technology that merges what you see in the real-world with an overlay of virtual information from the internet. Examples include directions to a supermarket when you walk and restaurant reviews when you look at a sign.

The AR market is predicted to be worth $100 billion by 2024 and the technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Facebook is the latest juggernaut to enter the fold, and they have plans to put smart glasses on your face by 2021.

Facebook’s move into AR

Facebook owns Oculus, the company behind some of the world’s most popular VR (virtual reality) headsets. AR goes beyond VR by adding digital elements to real life, as opposed to simulating a new environment entirely.

Oculus practically has the VR market sewn up already, so it hasn’t come as a surprise to us that CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently revealed Project Aria, Facebook’s augmented reality research project that will deliver a product by 2021.

Announced during the fittingly remote Facebook Connect event, Zuckerberg said the goal is to “develop some normal-size, nice-looking glasses that you can wear all day, and interact with holograms, digital objects and information while still being present with the people and the world around you.”

It all sounds exciting, and though we have been here before with Google Glass, Facebook has a track record with VR. They could do the same with AR, and Project Aria is the research project that will deliver the technology needed.

The technology driving AR

To create an AR environment, you need sound, video, graphics, networking, and GPS data. AR requires good hardware and software. If Facebook intends to create “normal-size, nice-looking glasses”, the technology will also have to be refined.

Zuckerberg admits “there’s still a lot of work to be done on the foundational technologies,” but adds that “Project Aria is the first research device we’re putting out into the world to help us understand the hardware and software needed.”

To deliver the end product, Facebook has partnered with luxury eyewear giant Luxottica and it is expected that Facebook’s smart glasses will have Ray-Ban branding. This will help the glasses accommodate a wider range of styles.           

Specifications for the 2021 glasses have not been revealed but they are expected to be capable of overlaying directions, music recommendations, localised information (such as what’s around the corner), and integrate with some of Facebook’s features. It’s important to note, however, that nothing is certain.

Also, Facebook is working on its own 100% in-house AR eyewear, which it intends to thoroughly test before bringing any product to market. The tech giant has a reputation to uphold with eyewear (they own Oculus), and if their VR headsets are anything to go by, we are in for a treat when Facebook’s AR glasses finally land.

Categories
Electronic Components

What the future holds for passive and interconnecting electronic components

While the world economy is in freefall with the COVID-19 pandemic, with mass unemployment and trade plummeting, the global passive and interconnecting electronic components market is expected to continue growing thanks to demand from the developing world and the rise of 5G infrastructure.

Grand View Research has released forecasts for the passive and interconnecting electronic components market, predicting a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% from 2020 to 2027 with a slowdown from 2020 to 2021 due to COVID-19.

The future is by no means certain and we do not know exactly how badly the world economy will be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. We do however have models that tell us demand will increase for electronics over time. This spells good news for components manufacturers and the wider electronics industry.

Changes in market demand

As the world economy is adversely impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, demand for electronic components in many verticals will slow. This can be traced back to the reality that in times of uncertainty, consumers are warier of spending money. Less demand for products means a slowdown in production and demand.

However, regardless of the world economy, some regions do have stimulus. The United Kingdom, Japan, China, South Korea and the US are rolling out 5G network infrastructure and this will stimulate the electronics market. Smartphones, tablets, drones and other devices that rely on networking will be key beneficiaries.

So, it isn’t by any means doom and gloom for the global passive and interconnecting electronic components market. Growth is predicted from 2020 to 2027 and the COVID-19 outbreak will only slow down this growth temporarily.

How component sourcing has changed

In response to a fall in demand for products, passive and interconnecting electronic component production has slowed. In addition, a lot of stock hasn’t been used and is sitting in storage until such a time it is needed.

Prior to COVID-19, it was easy to think of component production as being in a state of perpetual motion for it was always present. Demand has fallen but that doesn’t mean it has ceased. Passive and interconnecting electronic components are still being sourced, albeit in smaller batches and more carefully than ever.

Another behaviour we have witnessed is component hoarding. OEMs are unsure of their partner’s manufacturing capabilities in the face of COVID-19. So, they are hoarding components to ensure they can scale up demand when the time is right. This is considered normal behaviour without a global pandemic, but we are seeing more extreme examples as a means to protect manufacturing output. Ultimately, this means there are less components to go around, which drives up the cost of certain components.

How we can help you with sourcing

The future may be uncertain but good preparation will help you through it. As your electronic component distribution partner, we can source components for you with access to all major manufacturers. We can source legacy, obsolete, state-of-the-art and short production run components at prices that suit your margin. Visit our website or click here  to use access our component search and enquire with us. We are here to help you with your electronic component needs.

Categories
Technology

5G Technology and drones – The future taking flight

The last decade has seen the commercial market for drones explode. The global drone market was estimated by PWC in 2016 to be worth just under £100 billion ($127bn) and that was 4 years ago, before the emergence of 5G technology.

Rapid advancements in the propulsion, navigation, sensory and battery systems that power drones has brought about the likes of drone delivery services, aerial photography, and a new way to conduct mountain search and rescue operations.

These varied examples of drone applications perfectly illustrates the real usefulness of drones. Key to their adoption has been lithium-ion batteries that charge rapidly and better navigation systems that enable pinpoint control.

However, as drones have been increasingly adopted, our data transfer needs have increased and 4G technology has been shown up to be less than ideal.  

The need for 5G

5G can theoretically reach speeds of 10 gigabits per second and it is expected to reliably offer 1 Gbit/s to 2 Gbit/s in a few years.

This is much faster than 4G. For drones, it means faster data transfer and data collection, enabling real-time analysis and access to big data files quickly.

However, while much has been made about the increased speed of 5G over 4G (it is up to 100 times faster than 4G) the real value for drones is the lower latency.

Latency is the lag that occurs when resources are requested over a network. For example, you might wish to check wind speed when flying, but when you request the data, it takes a few seconds to load. This delay is caused by latency across the network.

Latency for 4G is around 30 milliseconds, whereas with 5G it’s below 5 milliseconds. In a best case scenario, the latency can be 1 millisecond.

This latency improvement is massive for drones. It makes reliable live view and live streaming possible. Real-time footage becomes a reality. Load times become imperceptible and responsiveness increases between devices.

Another area where 5G benefits drones is the 5G New Radio interface, which enables a higher number of devices to be used in one area over a wave spectrum. This means more devices can be controlled to reduce congestion.

Meeting demand for 5G component sourcing

5G is an exciting technology but it is still in its infancy, and up until now drone architecture has been designed around 4G.

5G requires different components to handle the speed increase and demands placed over the network. Drones need a new architecture to transfer data in milliseconds and transmit high-definition footage in real-time.

In short, the current technology has to evolve.

Sourcing components like ESCs, flight controllers, GPS modules, receivers, antennas and batteries for 5G drones will become more challenging as more players in the market start to evolve their products to meet demand.

Day-to-day component sourcing will require good contacts in the industry just as it always has. But the race to 5G will accelerate demand and increase competition. This is where the value of an electronic components distributor like us comes in.

We can supply active, passive and electro-mechanical components, including 5G components, working directly for you to procure the best components at the lowest prices. If the future is 5G, we’ll help you meet it.