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Southern Electronics | Comment

Making this year’s show one that dispels

EMS myths

The 2014 Southern Manufacturing and Electronics exhibition serves multiple purposes for firms operating within the industry, but as John Boston, managing director of Custom Interconnect Limited argues, the 2014 show could have a greater impact on the perception of the industry


n February, companies operating across the UK electronics industry will gather in Farnborough to showcase their capabilities and latest developments. Always a successful show for exhibitors, the Southern Manufacturing and Electronics exhibition has become a staple in our calendar.

The show serves a number of purposes. Not only can you witness first hand some of the developments taking place across all aspects of the industry and catch up on supply chain management issues, but it also provides the opportunity to showcase the breadth and depth of capability found here in the UK.

It never ceases to amaze me how many OEMs I talk to who are surprised to hear of the wide- ranging specialisms that can still be found here in the UK. Instead, they feel almost by default, that many services now have to be sourced overseas. So, this year, the one thing I would like to see emerge from this year’s Southern

Manufacturing show is for EMS firms to shout louder and cast a spotlight on the truly innovative work we are doing here in the UK.

Firms such as Custom

Interconnect, are breaking the boundaries of the traditional

18 December 2013/January 2014 Components in Electronics

confines of an EMS firm. While the traditional role of design, test, manufacture and distribution remain core elements of the business, these capabilities are increasing and widening seeing the engagement between OEM and EMS develop.

In today’s environment, OEMs are looking for solutions to complex issues,

often requiring input from key partners in their supply chain. This is becoming increasingly so in the field of electronics. As suppliers to multiple OEMs in varying sectors, the cross industry nature of the work we carry out places us in a position that will see us working on a wide variety of complex problems and help to develop an appropriate solution. This is calling on our skills that date back decades, as well as the cutting edge solutions with new materials and processes. There is a growing need for a historical knowledge of old assembly techniques and how they can be applied to solve problems in new technologies, together with having the capability to work with new materials such as graphene and Polymer thick film printing.

These skills are crucial in helping to retain this specialist manufacturing in the

UK. There has been much talk over the last 2-3 years of product returning from Eastern Europe and the Far East, and in a very small part I agree this has been true. However, only a very small percentage of what was transferred has actually returned to the UK and I do not believe much more will return.

The very tangible difference we are now seeing and it is significant, is that any new product developed is destined to remain in the UK for its manufacturing lifetime. EMS firms, such as Custom

Interconnect, provide a manufacturing partner for these products and while quantities vary from small amounts to quantities in excess of 750,000 per year, the UK’s electronic sector has a lot to offer. The UK is an innovation hub and I have lost count of the number of OEM companies in the UK I have visited and been impressed by the engineering excellence. The role electronics organisations play in turning innovation into reality is critical. Being able to offer this level of service is a valuable offering for global OEMs and the UK, albeit depleted in numbers, is able to provide this technical capability and insight.

As an industry, we need to be able to showcase this and highlight how we are part of the design solution. The far reaching expertise in past, present and new technologies is of major benefit but if OEMs aren’t aware we exist, then this type of work will move overseas.

So, Southern Manufacturing

2014 provides us with an opportunity. I’ll certainly be playing my part in seizing it.

Custom Interconnect | Stand C70

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