The Top 5 EMS Trends of 2024

The EMS (Electronic Manufacturing Services) industry makes stand-alone electronic products and components. Below we list in increasing order this year’s trends driving change in the EMS business.

1. Sustainability and Green Manufacturing

While green initiatives aren’t core to their business, EMS players are trying harder to reduce their environmental impact, prodded forward by ever-tightening government regulations and to a lesser degree, customer demand. They address the problem by using eco-friendly materials, lowering energy use and recycling.
  • Green Circuits: Takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability by using lead-free solder, energy-efficient manufacturing, and recycling programs.
  • Creation Technologies: Sources renewable energy in manufacturing, develops eco-friendly product designs.

2. Advanced Supply Chain Management (SCM)

Increasing SCM disruptions brought on by pandemics, bottlenecks and natural disasters are driving EMS companies to use AI, blockchain, and IoT to enhance transparency, improve efficiency and reduce risks.
  • Kimball Electronics: Uses blockchain to enhance supply chain visibility and AI to forecast demand and manage inventory.
  • SMTC Corporation: Employs IoT sensors and AI algorithms to monitor supply chain operations in real-time, enabling adjustments on the fly. IoT and AI are playing increasingly important roles in maintaining operations amid disruption though they don’t directly enhance manufacturing processes.

3. Miniaturization and High-Density Interconnect (HDI) Technology

As electronic components like PCBs become ever-smaller and more powerful, specialized EMS providers are increasingly compelled to exploit miniaturization and HDI technologies.
  • Asteelflash: Makes compact, high-performance electronic components using HDI technology that offers more functionality in smaller form factors.
  • Natel Engineering: Produces tough, high-density circuit boards that meet the stringent requirements of aerospace and medical device applications.

4. Advanced Manufacturing (ADM)

ADM is transforming the EMS industry’s core competency – manufacturing -- by improving productivity, reducing costs, and enhancing product quality. Technologies include robotics, AI, machine learning, and IoT.
  • Jabil: Integrates advanced robotics and AI into manufacturing lines to permit real-time adjustments and predictive maintenance.
  • Sanmina: Uses IoT and ML to optimize production workflows, enhance efficiency, and reduce operational costs.

5. Customized and Rapid Prototyping

As electronic devices become ever-more commonplace -- with ever shorter product lifecycles -- EMS providers must increasingly compete on the basis of rapid prototyping and customized solutions. They meet this demand by developing expertise in managing short runs operating 24/7 on flexible manufacturing lines. EMS players without this core competency risk losing to competitors whose prototyping skills place them in the best position to service those customers subsequent mass production needs.
  • Plexus: Uses 3D printing for rapid prototyping on highly adaptable manufacturing lines, thereby allowing design refinements nearly in real-time.
  • Benchmark Electronics: Provides comprehensive prototyping services, including design, testing, and validation to support clients’ need for speed to market.
EMS vendor PDS retained a Kuhn Capital team member to initiate its sale to PE firm Evolve
EMS vendor SMTEK retained a Kuhn Capital team member to initiate its sale to CTS