From Dieter Weiss: It’s the Electronics, Stupid

By Dieter Weiss, in4ma

The world of abbreviations can be complicated, but even more, the meaning of it. EMS to most of you stands for Electronics Manufacturing Services. If you look it up on the internet, you find that it has many other meanings as well. The most common one seems to be Express Mail Service and there is even a congress and exhibition EMS2018 going on this week in Copenhagen. In this case, it stand for Emergency Medical Services.

In some countries, EMS companies prefer to talk about CEM for Contract Electronics Manufacturing, as there are fewer other common meanings. However, watch out if someone talks about CM, Contract Manufacturing, only. This can and will be anything since it means a company that manufactures on a contract basis for another company. If a company for example manufactures packing products such as plastic containers for cream cheese, this is contract manufacturing. Nevertheless, do you as an EMS company want to be compared with a cream cheese packing company? So if lists of the TOP contract manufacturers are being published, it is either an inaccuracy and should read contract electronics manufacturer, or it is simply a mixture of apples and bananas.

A similar problem exists with the definition of EMS. Many EMS companies manufacture not only printed circuit board assemblies but as well cable harnesses. As long as both products are being manufactured, I have no problem with calling such a company an EMS provider. However, if a company manufactures cable harnesses exclusively, to me it is not an electronics manufacturing service company anymore. I know it is electrons, which flow through cable harnesses; still this does not make it an electronics product. Cable harnesses are electrical products, similar to electrical cabinets, which are electromechanical products. The E in EMS stands for electronics, not for electrics.

Just last week I read the latest global ranking of EMS companies, as well as for Europe. In Europe, Zollner Elektronik was again ranked No. 1 for Europe, which for accuracy reasons it should be mentioned, is for European companies only. Still the biggest EMS in Europe is Foxconn with six factories in Europe, of which the one in Pardubice, Czech Republic is the biggest one with more than 4.2 Billion euro in revenues 2016.

No. 2 was named PKC Group of Finland. Did I miss something? On January 27, 2017, PKC Group announced that it had divested their EMS business to Enics, by selling 100% of PKC Electronics Oy shares to them. The closing was on February 28, 2017 so a maximum of two month of revenues could have been dedicated to EMS business of PKC group. Today PKC is the biggest cable harness manufacturer in Europe, but that is electrical business, not EMS.

If you want to know more about the European EMS industry, contact Dieter under