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Technology

What is the Internet of Things?

EveryThing

In terms of IoT, a ‘Thing’ is anything that can transfer data over a network and can have its own IP address. They are most often ‘smart’ devices, that use processors or sensors to accumulate and send data.

These devices have little-to-no need for human interaction, except in cases where the smart device is controlled by a remote control or something similar. Due to the low cost of electronic components and wireless networks being readily available, it’s possible for most things to become, well, Things.

Technically, larger items like computers, aeroplanes, and even phones, cannot be considered IoT devices, but normally contain a huge amount of the smart devices within them. Smaller devices, however, like wearable devices, smart meters and smart lightbulbs can all be counted as IoT items.

There are already more connected IoT devices than there are people in the world, and as more Things are produced this progress shows no sign of slowing.

Applications of IoT

The automation and smart learning of IoT devices has endless uses and can be implemented in many industries. The medical industry can use IoT to remotely monitor patients using smart devices that can track blood pressure, heart rate and glucose levels, and can check if patients are sticking to treatment plans or physiotherapy routines.

Smart farming has garnered attention in recent years for its possibly life-saving applications. The use of IoT devices in the agricultural industry can enable the monitoring of moisture levels, fertiliser quantities and soil analysis. Not only would these functions lower the labour costs for farmers substantially but could also be implemented in countries where there is a desperate need for agriculture.

The industrial and automotive industries also stand to benefit from the development of IoT. Road safety can be improved with fast data transfer of vehicle health, as well as location. Maintenance could be performed before issues begin to affect driving if data is collected and, alongside the implementation of AI, smart vehicles and autonomous cars could be able to drive, brake and park without human error.

What’s next?

The scope of possibilities for IoT will only grow as technology and electronics become more and more accessible. An even greater number of devices will become ‘smart’ and alongside the implementation of AI, we will likely have the opportunity to make our lives fully automated. We already have smart toothbrushes and smart lightbulbs, what more could be possible in the future?

To make it sustainable and cost-effective, greater measures in security and device standardisation need to be implemented to reduce the risk of hacking. The UK government released guidelines in 2018 on how to keep your IoT devices secure, and a further bill to improve cyber security entered into law in 2021.

If you’re looking for chips, processors, sensors, or any other electronic component, get in touch with Lantek today. We are specialists in day-to-day and obsolete components and can supply you where other stockists cannot.

Contact Cyclops today at sales@lantekcorp.com. Or use the rapid enquiry form on our website to get fast results.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.