Q: What have been the biggest industry shifts over the last few years?
We continue to see a shift in manufacturing from East to West as China is no longer the low-cost location it was due to wage inflation and rising material costs. New manufacturing markets are emerging in locations such as Vietnam and Indonesia, but we are also seeing manufacturing moving to Eastern Europe. Europe based customers are increasingly choosing to have their products made in Europe, which offers several advantages particularly for new product introduction (NPI).
More recently the US/China trade war has also made OEMs drill down into their supply chain provenance.
Q: What about technology trends?
From a product perspective, we are seeing a dramatic increase in demand for displays, especially touchscreen technology, in both consumer and industrial electronics. As IoT/smart technologies are being adopted across a range of emerging markets such as self-service kiosks, security, healthcare and smartphones, this has fuelled growth, despite the general global market slowdown.
We are also seeing a growth in wireless and handheld designs, which has resulted in smaller design footprints and the increased use of antenna products.
Q: How have these changes affected the electronic component supply chain?
Suppliers that have been reliant on Far Eastern manufacturers are being forced to rethink their position and strategy. At GTK our global footprint means we can offer OEMs a variety of different ‘build models’ to suit their requirements. This can include part-building an assembly in one location and completing it in another, whilst remaining price-competitive.
Display manufacturers are expanding their geographic reach as their domestic markets become saturated. More and more OEMs are including displays in their new product designs and many are on a rapid learning curve about this technology. As the market matures, customers are becoming more discerning about product quality and performance. At GTK our technical experts can help OEMs select the most suitable display for their new product, often adding functionality and saving cost. We can also assist with choosing the right connectivity product to connect the display to the PCB.
Those customers affected by the US/China trade war because of their reliance on Chinese manufacturing are reviewing their current supply chain and looking for alternatives. We have been able to react quickly to our customers’ changing needs and move some production out of China into Taiwan and other locations.
Q: What is the latest news from the GTK?
There’s a lot of exciting things going on at GTK including continued investment in automated manufacturing in our Romanian facility, which opened in 2016. This plant focuses on mid-high-volume cable assembly production and box build. Combined with our UK facility and manufacturing partnerships in the Far East, it gives us a global manufacturing footprint.
In December 2018, GTK was acquired by Volex, which means we have access to Volex’s product set, engineering expertise, technologies and production facilities, expanding our global manufacturing footprint even further. This allows us to tailor our production and supply chain logistics to meet pretty much any customer’s requirements.
Finally, in September, we launched the Volex V-Novus Hybrid power cord product range, which combines ergonomic design with versatility, as well as being price competitive. This product set is a natural extension to our portfolio, as many of our existing customers need power cords.