What will 2016 Bring?

2015 was a progressive year in electronics manufacturing. Factory automation using big data has become front and center of the race to improve quality, yield and traceability, while reducing labor overheads and cost.

But, 2015 also hosted a number of new product introductions. These innovations fuel the business at a fairly consistent growth rate of around 6% per annum, although recent reports would indicate the pace of innovation and change is quickening!

Drone technology, which debuted as a military application has quickly become commercialized for everything from extreme sports photography to parcel delivery! It is sure to be a major feature at this year’s CES 2106 in Las Vegas.

Automotive applications also continue to evolve at a great pace with Tesla introducing driverless technology to owners of their Series S saloon with a simple software download called “Autopilot”. Google has now teamed up with Ford Motor Company to roll out their long-awaited driverless solutions.

Energy storage systems, smart metering and innovative energy solutions continue to emerge in an effort to make us less dependent on fossil-based fuels and in particular, oil – which ricochets across all industries, including electronics, every time there is a price swing.

Medical electronics continues to evolve at a rapid pace and the recent boom in wearable technologies will develop to measure more than just your heart rate and the number of steps you take. As this technology matures ,it will produce more useful data that will report direct to your doctors office, which will monitor and prescribe corrective medications.

Other volatile areas to watch are precious metals. Even though the spikes of recent years have ceded, be sure that the next time we have a currency crisis, precious metals are going to be the favorite “go to” destination, which will have a serious effect on electronics materials.

Recent terror attacks across the world have turned the attention onto security systems and encryption. 2016 will definitely see a higher focus on electronic surveillance systems.

Politically, 2016 is an election year in the United States and Germany, two major electronics producing countries. It is impossible to predict what effects political change will have on these economies and policies affecting electronics goods and manufacturing.

China will remain the largest producer of electronics goods, but experts do not foresee a return to growth till at least 2017. Some manufacturing continues to return to the United States, Mexico and eastern and western Europe, but the biggest beneficiaries of the rising costs in China has been The Philippines and Vietnam. However, there are now signs of the labor rates becoming uncompetitive in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, India with its progressive Modi government is slashing red tape, building new electronics manufacturing clusters and sponsoring an aggressive global marketing campaign to attract manufacturers to setup factories in India.

Consumer electronics will continue to be the largest and fastest-growing segment of electronics in 2016, making our lives easier and more connected. And through the use of big data, electronics will reduce risk and makes us feel more secure, which makes us all sleep a little easier at night.

Trevor Galbraith


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