The lessons from the pandemic are seeing more stocking of components and more detailed auditing of the supply chain says consultancy ByteSnap Design

The company surveyed electronics sector personnel across a range of industries including automotive, industrial, MedTech and aerospace in April and May 2021.

“Over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to survey UK electronics professionals to gain an insight into the state of the sector, the challenges they have overcome and how their businesses have changed as a result of Covid-19,” said Dunstan Power, director of Bytesnap. “It is hugely encouraging when we look at the figures, how the majority of electronics companies have weathered the Covid-19 storm, particularly those who have adapted and used their indispensable expertise in the manufacture of essential medical equipment and component supply to help in the fight to protect lives.”

Despite 82 percent of the electronics industry being affected by supply chain challenges, 38 percent said they had coped well with the pandemic, while 35 percent had a mixed experience. Nearly two thirds (60 percent) saw an increase in demand for their product or services, 9 percent saw no change and 31 percent experienced a decrease.

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The sector with the highest increase in demand was Industrial at 76 percent, followed by medical at 74 percent and the Internet of Things (IoT) at 71 percent.

The sectors that saw the greatest decrease were unsurprisingly aerospace (27 percent) and automotive (25 percent) but what was a surprise was the decline in consumer at 16 percent.

There has been a great surge in demand for electronics components where more than 56 percent of the businesses surveyed had been affected by the wave. 34 percent of respondents experienced long lead times for their required components and 24 percent of them were not able to procure sufficient parts and products.

Nearly half of those surveyed saw their businesses bounce back within 12 months of the pandemic. This was against a more hopeful 86 percent that believed they would be back to normal within a year.

In the first three months of the pandemic, 22 percent did not experience any dip in sales activity, while over the year that figure decreased to 19 percent experiencing no dip in sales. Only 11 percent of businesses are yet to reach their pre-Covid sales levels.

During the first lockdown, 18 percent of the electronics sector was concerned about supply chain disruption. This has translated into 45 percent of companies holding more stock in-house rather than just in time (JIT) and 26 percent now auditing their supply chains more closely.

While 10 percent of respondents in 2020 were considering using more domestic suppliers, the survey revealed that less than 11 percent actually moved part of their supply chain to the UK.

Over half of respondents (53 percent) felt a negative impact on their business since Brexit as 70 percent said ordering from or moving across to Europe has become more expensive and difficult, with increased paperwork. Just 3 percent of those surveyed state that they have benefited from Brexit.

“As we continue to face the challenges of coronavirus, we hope that this report will be a useful insight into how far the electronics sector has come and what the electronics industry can expect to see in the future,” said Graeme Wintle, Director at ByteSnap.

“At ByteSnap Design, we’ve seen a continued demand for our work on IoT, healthcare and tracking devices. We’re proud of how our team has responded to the challenges during the past year and successfully implemented a remote/office-based working set up so that we can continue to support our clients.”

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