19 electronics manufacturing process challenges and solution
With careful vigilance, it’s easy for electronic items to become outdated or acquire defects. This article looks into all the challenges those working in the electronics manufacturing industry face and how they can fix them.
Last updated: 17.01.2023
According to comedian and actor Jim Carrey, the zombie apocalypse came in the form of us all being glued to our phones.
Regardless of if you find this observation a tad bit dramatic or not, he’s not wrong about the popularity of smartphones and other smart devices. According to a study in 2019 by leftronic, 2.71 billion people own a smartphone. This highlights just how influential the electronics industry is in our lives.
That’s why we’ve decided to look into the electronics manufacturing process, the challenges, and the ultimate solution to managing these products.
What is the electronics manufacturing process in production?
As electronic devices become more and more commonplace, it’s important to know how they’re made. The electronics manufacturing process involves many steps, from designing the devices to assembling them and shipping them off to consumers.
Let’s take a closer look at how this process works:
The first step in the electronics manufacturing process is the design.
This is where engineers come up with plans for the devices. They have to consider how the device will be used, what components it will need, and how it will be put together. Once they have a design, they create prototypes and test them to make sure they work correctly.
The next step is sourcing the components from others in the electronics manufacturing industry. This can be done by suppliers all over the world. The components are then shipped to the assembly plant.
At the assembly plant, the components are put together. A combination of machines and workers does this in the electronics manufacturing process. The workers put the components in the right place and solder pasting them together. The device is then tested again to make sure it works correctly.
Packaging and shipping
After testing, the devices are sent for packaging and shipped to retailers. They are then sold to consumers.
Companies are becoming more aware of their environmental impact. Some are even taking steps to become a green manufacturing company. For example, some assembly plants use solar power to run their operations — this helps to reduce emissions and save energy.
The electronics manufacturing process is an important part of the global economy. It provides jobs for millions of people and creates products that we use every day. As consumers, we should be aware of how our devices are made and their impact on the environment. We can all play a role in ensuring that the process is as eco-friendly as possible.
Preparing your work space for PCB handling
Printed circuit boards assemblies, or PCBs, are thin boards made of various materials used to support and connect electronic components — the PCB assembly process is an important and delicate stage in making electronic goods.
They are found in various electronic devices, from computers and cell phones to televisions and microwaves. If you are working with printed circuit boards (PCBs), it’s essential to take proper precautions to avoid damage. Here are some tips on how to prepare your workspace for PCB handling:
Make sure the area is clean and free of debris to ensure PCB quality
Cover any sharp edges on tables or other surfaces
Use static-free mats or workbenches if possible
Wear gloves to avoid fingerprints or other marks when handling the boards
Avoid touching the exposed circuitry on the boards during fabrication and PCB assembly
These simple tips will help ensure that your PCBs stay in good condition, last for many years, and stay relevant in the electronics manufacturing industry.
Whether you’re handling the PCB fabrication or outsourcing the process, following these tips will ensure that you’re handling your boards safely.
What is PCB layout design for manufacturability?
Design for circuit board manufacturability (DFM) is the process of organizing PCB layout topology to mitigate problems during fabrication and assembly. Good DFM considers many factors, from component placement and routing density to thermal management and signal integrity.
PCB designers must balance meeting electrical performance requirements and ensure that their boards are manufactured within budget. DFM helps to streamline the design for manufacture process and minimize manufacturing costs by identifying potential issues early on.
There are many different approaches to DFM, but some common considerations include:
Component placement — Components should be placed to minimize interactions between signals. This can help to reduce crosstalk and other forms of signal noise.
Routing density — Higher routing densities can lead to problems with etching and soldering. PCB design guidelines should aim for a balance between dense routing and clearances that allow for manufacturing tolerances.
Thermal management — Temperature gradients can cause components to expand or contract unevenly, leading to reliability issues. Proper thermal management ensures that components stay within their safe operating temperatures.
Signal integrity — High-speed signals are susceptible to crosstalk and other forms of signal degradation. Good DFM practices help to ensure that signals maintain their integrity throughout the PCB.
PCB layout is a critical part of the product designs process, and DFM helps optimize the layout for manufacturability. Electronic designers can create PCBs that are both easy to manufacture and meet electrical performance requirements by considering a wide range of factors.
PRO TIP: PCB manufacturers produce different types of PCB boards. When looking for PCB designs, make sure you’re purchasing the correct board for your product. The common types of PCB boards are:
Single layer with a copper layer
Heavy copper PCB with hole components
Trends in the consumer electronics industry
The consumer electronics manufacturing industry is constantly evolving.
New technologies and products are constantly being introduced, and old ones are becoming obsolete. As such, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest trends in the industry. However, understanding these trends is important for anyone who wants to stay ahead of the curve.
One of the biggest consumer electronics manufacturing industry trends is moving toward 4K resolution. 4K TVs are now widely available, and more and more content is being produced in 4K. This trend will continue as 4K TVs become more affordable and more commonplace.
Another big trend is the rise in voice-controlled assistants.
Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home assistant are becoming increasingly popular as they allow users to control their devices hands-free. This trend is likely to continue as more and more manufacturers integrate these voice assistants into their products.
Finally, the wearables market is also growing rapidly.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a convenient way to track your fitness goals and stay connected. This trend will continue as more companies enter the market and release new products.
What are the challenges faced in the electronics manufacturing process?
The consumer electronics manufacturing industry is one of the most rapidly changing and competitive industries globally. To succeed, companies must constantly innovate and adapt to the ever-changing landscape to stay ahead of the competition.
However, several challenges face the industry. Here are some of the biggest:
1. Rapidly changing technology
One of the biggest challenges facing the electronics manufacturing process is the rapid pace of change. Technology is evolving at an ever-increasing rate. Companies must continually update their products to stay ahead of the competition and avoid perishable inventory getting stuck in your inventory, just like food or cosmetics goods.
This can be a costly and time-consuming process.
2. Short product life cycles
Another challenge faced by the electronics manufacturing process is short product life cycles. Due to the rapid pace of change, products quickly become outdated and must be replaced with newer models. This can result in high levels of waste and e-waste.
3. Increasing competition
The consumer electronics manufacturing industry is highly competitive. Many companies compete for market share, and new entrants are constantly entering the market. This makes it difficult for companies to differentiate their products and stand out from the crowd.
4. Price pressure
Due to the high level of competition, there is also a lot of pressure setting selling prices in the consumer electronics industry. Companies are constantly under pressure to reduce prices, impacting margins and profitability.
5. Access to raw materials
Many consumer electronics are made from rare earth metals and other materials that can be difficult to obtain. This can lead to shortages and increased prices. For example, since 2020, there has been a massive global chip shortage which has affected many brands, from Sony to Toyota.
6. Environmental regulations
The electronics manufacturing process is subject to several environmental regulations. These regulations can impact the design, manufacture, and use of products.
7. Changing consumer preferences
Consumer preferences constantly change, making it difficult for companies to keep up with demand. For example, the popularity of smartphones has led to a decline in the demand for traditional phones and other devices.
8. Economic conditions
The consumer electronics manufacturing process is susceptible to economic fluctuations. For example, the global recession in 2008/2009 had a significant impact on sales of consumer electronics.
9. Social media pressure
Social media can have a significant impact on the consumer electronics industry. For example, negative reviews or comments about a product can spread quickly and damage a company’s reputation.
10. Intellectual property theft
The consumer electronics industry is also susceptible to intellectual property theft, especially when outsourcing. This can occur when products are copied, or counterfeit products are sold. This can lead to lost sales and revenue for companies.
11. Supply chain disruptions
The electronics manufacturing process is reliant on a complex and global supply chain. This can make it vulnerable to disruptions, such as natural disasters or political instability. All of which will greatly affect your manufacturing lead time.
12. Data security risks
As more and more products become connected, data security risks are increasing. Hackers could gain access to personal data or company secrets, leading to serious consequences.
13. Labour issues
The consumer electronics industry is often criticized for its labor practices. For example, there have been allegations of poor working conditions and low wages at factories in developing countries.
14. Emerging markets
The consumer electronics industry is increasingly focused on emerging markets. However, these markets can be challenging due to their different cultures, languages, and business practices.
The electronics manufacturing process is under pressure to become more sustainable. For example, there is a growing demand for products made from recycled materials.
16. End-of-life management
When products reach the end of their life, they must be disposed of properly to avoid environmental pollution. This can be a challenge for the consumer electronics industry due to the many discarded products each year.
17. Warranty and support
Customers often expect a high level of warranty and support for their products. This can be costly for electronics companies, especially if faulty products break down soon after purchase.
18. Counterfeit products
The sale of counterfeit products is a major problem in the consumer electronics industry. This can damage a company’s reputation and lead to lost sales.
19. Product recalls
Product recalls can be costly and damaging to a company’s reputation. They can also lead to legal problems if customers are injured, or products are found to be defective. This is why it’s important to have traceability software implemented now, to be ready for such a scenario.
Katana ERP manufacturing software for electronics
1000s of manufacturers entrust Katana with helping them manage their day-to-day business activities. Sign up for free and automate your entire electronics manufacturing process.
Katana ERP manufacturing software for your electronics manufacturing process
In the electronics manufacturing process, it’s important to have electronic manufacturing software to monitor activity – because, at the drop of a hat, anything could happen that delays production and leaves customers disappointed.
Introducing Katana ERP manufacturing software, the ultimate tool for those working in the electronics manufacturing industry.
Katana gives manufacturing real-time insights into sales, operational status, and costing, allowing business owners to make better business decisions on the fly. You can manage this all with Katana or, if you’re already using different e-commerce, accounting, CRM, or another tool, easily integrate them and manage your entire electronics manufacturing process from one platform. Katana comes with the essential features for electronic manufacturers to help them manage:
Easily track your raw materials, WIP, and finished goods inventory from supplier, along your electronics process, and out the door to the customer.
This feature will allow you to get complete visibility of your item’s journey to uncover which batch a product came from, the raw materials used, or which supplier sold you the components used.
Expiry date tracking
Shelf life management can help ensure that electronic devices are used within their optimal timeframe and avoid potential damage or performance issues associated with outdated devices.
Expiry date tracking can also help to keep accurate records of when devices were purchased or acquired, which can be helpful for insurance or warranty claims. Finally, expiry date tracking can help businesses to manage their inventory more effectively and ensure that they are not stocking outdated devices.
COGs and manufacturing costs
Katana ERP manufacturing software accurately tracks production costs based on the price of ingredients and the cost of your electronics manufacturing process.
This allows you to track the profitability of your sales. Over at the sales screen, you can see the cost of goods sold and profit for all your sales orders. These cost calculations are performed automatically, so you don’t have to worry.
Katana ERP automates your production tracking and monitoring with your contract manufacturers based anywhere globally.
With Katana, you can have raw materials sent directly to your CM while monitoring inventory levels and the status of tasks from their end. If you use a CM for building sub-assemblies, no problem. With Katana, you can issue them a manufacturing order instead and keep an eye on production via the ERP software.
And with that brings us to the end of the article.
We hope that you found it useful. If Katana ERP manufacturing software is something you think could benefit your electronics manufacturing process, you can take it for a spin for free. Katana offers manufacturers a 14-day free trial, so you can experience first-hand the awesome benefits it has to offer your business.
Senior Content Manager
James Humphreys has a background in creative writing and has been writing about the manufacturing industry for 3+ years.
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