This year has seen one of the worst financial crises since 1929, the Wall Street Crash. The economy has seen a rough start to 2020, with thanks to COVID-19 causing mass disruption for manufacturers globally and over 437,000 deaths within seven months. Same as all major industries, the electronics sector has been substantially affected by the virus in all divisions including events, manufacturing, supply chain and staffing. With COVID-19 grinding spending and production to halt, official data shows that China’s economy suffered a sharp decline of 6.8% in the first quarter of 2020, according to Business Leader. However, from this date onwards, the global economy looks as if it is starting to bounce back – along with the electronics industry.
Workplace Coming Back Together
Many organisations will have spent lockdown wisely to refurb facilities to ensure staff / customer safety and efficiency. Moving forward there will be more thought considered for social distancing within the workplace to ensure employees are safe and at respectable distances from colleagues. Strict measures will be introduced within all offices to prevent of COVDI19 spreading. Changes such as spacing desks, installing accessible sanitisers and marking floor marking will be highly popular within the workplace. Many large organisations such as supermarkets and manufacturing facilities have already implemented social distancing measures such as installing graphics on floors displaying the ‘two meters’ distance rule. However, many of the country’s small companies will not be viable unless two metre social distancing rules are relaxed, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has claimed. According to City A.M, Spain and Canada have retained two-metre restrictions in line with the UK, while others have taken a more lenient approach. France, China, and Denmark all have a one-metre rule, while Australia, Germany, and Italy have set their restriction at 1.5 metres.
ECIA’s Global Industry Practices Committee (GIPC) issued a document to provide areas for consideration and best practices for how manufacturers, distributors and manufacturer’s representatives in the electronic component industry can safely and effectively adapt their selling organizations in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the statements given were: Perform temperature checks the morning of any in-person meetings. Any employee exhibiting signs of illness including fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath should not travel or join in-person meetings. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing both prior to and post all face to face meetings.
“The issues involved with restarting in-person business meetings are significant and changing daily,” noted Don Elario, ECIA Vice President of Industry Practices. “We want to stay close to these important interactions and assist the channel for selling components to get back to business safely. Our SME group will review this topic again in July and revise the document if needed based on how things are progressing.”
Events Starting to Take Place
Many events that were scheduled take place this year were either postponed or cancelled due to COVID19. These include The Electronic Component Show, Mobile World Congress and EDS. For many organisations, these events are a huge source of their marketing budgets and reliable income. NürnbergMesse usually welcomes around 150,000 visitors at the embedded world events. However, they saw approximately 900 exhibitors in the halls. Global semiconductor manufacturer, STMicroelectronics, who usually have a massive presence at the show, released a statement: ‘STMicroelectronics has been closely following the situation related to the novel coronavirus outbreak and has taken a number of precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of its employees worldwide. As an additional measure, the company has taken the decision to withdraw from exhibiting at MWC 2020 in Barcelona and at embedded world in Nuremberg.’ Many other companies, including ARM, Cypress, Digi-Key, Intel, Microchip, Mouser, NXP, Renesas, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments and Xilinx also made the difficult decision to withdraw from the show, putting the health and safety of its employees and customers first. However, things are looking up. With proximity facilities such as beauty parlours and hairdressers opening as of 4th July, we can expect many other hospitality and small events to open very soon.
Travel Restrictions Easing
The US and UK travel restrictions are relatively similar at this moment in time. It was January 31st, 2020 when Donald Trump issued an executive order blocking entry into the US from anyone who has been to China within the last 14 days. Not only that, on March 11th Trump banned travel from Europe which was seeing a rapid increasing number of cases. Similar to the US, Boris Johnson issued server travel restrictions which has affected many holiday and tourism organisations. An ex aple of this would be Specialist Leisure Group, which owns coach company Shearings, has collapsed into administration amid the coronavirus crisis, the firm has announced. However, many holiday organisations may be in luck as global travel restrictions are easing slightly. Johansson said the countries had agreed to a “gradual and strictly coordinated lifting” of the restrictions from July. That will not necessarily happen in one fell swoop, but the green light for a restart to international tourism appears to be there. The decision came during a video conference involving the EU’s 27 home affairs ministers, according to Forbes.
What the Electronics Industry Can Expect in 2021
With the understanding that COVID19 will be under control by next year, I believe the electronics industry can expect endless beaming events, more customer interaction and successful trading. I expect that moving forwards, all events will have stricter health and safety regulations. However, I highly doubt it will stop clients exhibiting and visiting these gathering.
By Amy Leary, Marketing Manager at eBOM.com