Is It Time To Rebrand Electronics Manufacturing Services?

By Philip Stoten

The electronics manufacturing services industry has seen many changes over the five decades of its history, but only one name change. Contract electronic manufacturers (CEMs) became EMS companies in the 1980s or 90s. But we’ve seen a huge evolution in the way these companies operate, and some executives are questioning whether the name EMS covers the offerings of these companies, which are now capable of taking an idea to a fulfilled product delivered directly to the hands of the user.

I’ve been working in this industry and writing about it for over 30 years. In a recent episode of a show I co-host, the CEOs of two large EMS companies talked about the growing complexity, breadth and depth of the partnerships they enjoy with their clients. Indeed, the industry is now far from the build-to-print model of the early years. Through the 1990s, huge growth came from aggressive expansion in capacity and capability. EMS companies no longer simply assemble boards or even products; they are intimately involved in every aspect of the product’s life cycle as well as the supply and value chain.


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