Consequence of the digital boom: electronic parts are in short supply

Consequence of the digital boom: electronic parts are in short supply

The omnipresent digital boom has had an unpleasant side effect for the industry: this year, semiconductors and other electronic components are in shorter supply than they have been for a long time.

According to industry sources, there have been shortages of omni-channel components such as capacitors and resistors for the first time in recent months. “Car manufacturers and the automation industry were the hardest hit,” said christoph stoppok, executive director of the electronic components and systems (ECEI) trade association. Electronica, the industry’s leading international trade show with more than 3,000 exhibitors, begins this tuesday in munich.

The consequences of the shortage are long delivery times and higher prices – although the trade association does not comment on the latter issue. According to stoppok, the current peak of the shortage has passed, as the economy is slowing down. According to industry sources, however, the situation has not yet fully returned to normal.

“The unusual thing this time is that passive components and other products were also in short supply, especially multilayer ceramic capacitors,” stoppok said. Passive components are passive because they cannot amplify an electrical signal in a circuit, including mass-produced products such as resistors and capacitors.

Two factors have contributed to the shortage: the good economic situation that has persisted for years and the fact that more and more functions in industrial products are being controlled electronically.

Example car: from the on-board computer to engine control and driver assistance systems to comfort functions such as seat heating, a large number of electronically controlled circuits are necessary. “In some cases, more than 100 networked control units are now in use in current audi models,” according to the ingolstadt-based VW subsidiary.

“The share of semiconductors and passive components has also risen sharply over the past few years,” said a spokeswoman. “So in a fully equipped premium car there are up to 10.000 semiconductors and many times that amount of passive components – capacitors, resistors and so on – are installed.”

According to audi, there have been no production delays. “We recognized the signs of the current market situation at an early stage and adjusted to them,” said the spokeswoman. “But we continue to see a challenging market environment in some areas for 2019.”

Munich-based rival BMW also says the shortage of electronic components has not been completely eliminated, but is manageable. Both car manufacturers attach great importance to good relationships with their suppliers. It is not only the automotive industry that expects the demand for electronic components to continue to rise in the coming years as a result of technical progress.

There is a boom in sensors, which are being used in more and more areas of life – whether optical sensors for cars, medical sensors for measuring bodily functions, or industrial sensors for monitoring machines.

According to experts, the next few years will see a massive increase in the use of electronics. In industry, automation and robotics are currently two major topics – and inconceivable without electronic measurement and control systems.

And everyday life is also becoming technologically more complex – whether it’s e-bikes, mobile payment in stores or self-regulating heating systems. The central association of the electronics and electrical engineering industry (ZVEI) estimated in april that global sales of microelectronics will increase by almost 90 billion to half a billion dollars from 2017 to 2022.

Accordingly, more exhibitors have registered for electronica than ever before: more than 3,000 companies plan to attend the four-day branch meeting. Two major munich companies also play a significant role in the electronics market in their respective fields of business: in semiconductors, the munich-based group infineon is among the world leaders, and in leds and optical sensors, osram is the world leader.


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