Transition from hard work to smart work with Industrial Electronics

Industrial Electronics

The deployment of power electronic technology in the industrial sector is supporting the growth of the Industrial Electronics market. The penetration of Industrial electronic devices in utility applications and the rising demand for higher power density in electronics are the key factors driving the market growth and will always increase as the need for power is not perishable. Industrial electronics and electric drives technology have made significant developments after several decades of the dynamic evolution of power semiconductor devices, converters, pulse width modulation (PWM) techniques, advanced control and simulation techniques.

Recently its applications have been fast expanding in industrial, commercial, residential, transportation, utility, aerospace, renewable energy systems, electric/hybrid vehicles and military environments, primarily due to reductions in cost and size and improvements in performance. In the global industrial automation, energy conservation and environmental pollution control trends of the 21st century, the widespread impact of industrial electronics is inevitable. It appears that the role of industrial electronics on our society in the future will be as important and versatile as that of information technology today. The significance of industrial electronics will be discussed. The recent advances of industrial electronics, power converters, electric drives and new trends in industrial electronics and motor drives, along with some possible research and development areas, will then be highlighted.

The Electronics Industry deals with process monitoring and control in factory floor manufacturing applications. Modern factories need to monitor a wide range of process parameters requiring a higher number of signal conditioners. All factories have the need to be more efficient and save costs by conserving energy and saving space wherever possible. Control cabinets located out on the factory floor house a wide variety of equipment typically mounted on a DIN rail inside the cabinet. Equipment can include PLCs, signal conditioners, power supplies as well as DIN rail interconnecting blocks. The increasing trend towards cost savings in factory automation applications makes the need for saving space evident.

In Semiconductors, Manufacturing comprises the front-end fab manufacturing and the back-end assembly, including packaging and testing. There are only a handful of companies globally that do front-end manufacturing at scale in industrial electronics. India has done well in design and verification for the semiconductor industry, with most of the global semiconductor companies having an R&D footprint in India, but 100% of chips, memory and display are imported into the country. Just on semiconductor chips alone, we are probably looking at more than $10-12 billion of imports. The Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal had recently asked Indian industry to set up a semiconductor fabrication plant in India, but experts in the sector seem unsure if it’s a pragmatic proposition as the risks are too high and the investment required is huge.

The Indian electronics industry saw growth in the early years, encouraged both by government policies and incentives and by international investment. Its key and most resource-intensive segment, the semiconductor industry benefitted from domestic demand growing briskly. Semiconductors were required by a large number of industries, including telecommunications, information technology, industrial machinery and automation, medical electronics, automobile, engineering, power and solar photovoltaic, defense and aerospace, consumer electronics, and appliances.

Semiconductor production operations can be classified into two main categories design and manufacturing. Companies that provide design-only services are referred to as fabless, while those that offer manufacturing-only services are called foundries. The companies that perform both design and manufacturing are known as integrated device manufacturers (IDMs). Industry professionals employ some of the smallest and most precise manufacturing and machining services of any modern industry. When producing these products, they must also ensure responsible handling of uncontaminated raw materials—such as pure silicon—and maintain a workspace that meets extreme cleanliness standards and is staffed by knowledgeable team members.

In the Test and Measurement Sector too, Industrial electronics plays a crucial role. Accurate testing and measurement is critical in electronic systems design and manufacturing to ensure product quality. Test and measurement (T&M) systems play an essential role in ratifying the performance of a wide range of electronic products. Increased product complexity has spurred the demand for precision testing at every stage of the product’s life cycle, right from design and development to production testing, pre- and post-market testing, as well as support. Thus, the growth of the test and measurement industry goes hand in hand with the growth of the electronics industry in the country.

Indian Market has the potential to be among the forerunners in the next phase of technology innovations. The Indian electronic design and manufacturing sector has witnessed steady growth in recent years, with the focus shifting from pure play system or product design to include other areas such as product development, original design manufacturing etc. Therefore, immense business opportunities are brewing in the Indian T&M industry. The electronic T&M market is growing well. Researchers have indicated significant growth opportunities in terms of market participation, the largest ones centering around 5G, autonomous driving, data centres, high-speed digital standards, and power applications. The companies are most likely to succeed in capturing the opportunities. Industry experts feel that it is very important to make customers aware and convinced about quality, safety and maintenance practices through the use of the right T&M instruments. They expect regulatory bodies to spread this awareness.

In Consumer Electronics, there is trend of smart offices and smart homes, where consumer electronics is an important part of it. Rising disposable income of the people of consumer electronics and their shift in preferences towards smart homes and smart offices environment, are thus majorly driving the growth of the industry. High end products still has to go a long way to acquire larger industry share in India. For instance, 4K TV is a trend in India but it has capacity to change and upgrade as per the developed technology across the globe. Moreover, China has increasing manufacturing cost which has attracted India to be ideal manufacturing hub. The “Make in India” policy of the government is further attracting more investments in consumer electronic industry. Of the total electronic industry in India, consumer electronics has around more than 9.5% market share, with major adoption among the middle-income group population. But, the inadequate testing facilities and incompetent local manufacturing infrastructure are hindering the growth of the industry.

The electronics industry has been at the forefront of technology adoption for advanced manufacturing applications. With the advent of smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0, the electronics industry is thriving toward being at the forefront of this technological shift. The scope of this research service is to determine the current and future advanced technologies, which will impact the electronics manufacturing industry. The technologies analyzed are: additive Manufacturing (3D printing), extreme lithography, cobots (collaborative robots), digital twin (DT) technology, metal injection molding, augmented reality and smart manufacturing, Industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT).

Top electronics manufacturers like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Sony are making sizeable investments in technology to capitalize on modern trends, expand their tech capabilities, and stay competitive. These manufacturers are using digital tools to integrate technologies beyond their primary area of expertise, boost revenue and productivity, improve product quality, meet customer demands, reduce waste and operational costs, and follow eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Manufacturers are relying on smart factories to automate complex and recurring operations, store and exchange critical information, and make relevant decisions with minimum human intervention. Though connectivity within the manufacturing operations isn’t new, the factory of the future (commonly referred to as factory 4.0) is employing information technology (IT) and operations technology (OT) to drive manufacturing, maintenance, inventory tracking, and supply chain operations. Consequently, modern technology is enabling electronics manufacturers to manage an efficient and agile shop floor, reduce production downtime, and predict and adapt to the changes in the system, thereby offering them competitive advantage.

By: Mannu Mathew | Sub Editor | ELE Times
Mannu Mathew
An engineer and a journalist, working, researching, and analyzing about the technology sphere from all possible vector, Currently working as a Sub-editor / Technology Correspondent at ELE Times