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Sensors and Instruments: Supporting the Future of Technology

By Phil Simmonds, Chief Executive Officer of EC Electronics

 

We live in a world full of sensors and electronics equipment.

Automatic lights turn on when you walk into your office. The room temperature automatically adjusts according to the weather. Even making your morning cup of coffee can involve sensors at play.

As the era of digitisation progresses, we are seeing the sensors and instruments markets developing through a crucially formative stage, with massive potential for growth across industries such as IT, communication, entertainment and home appliances.

So, what is driving growth in this market, and how are modern sensors and instruments supporting the future of technology and innovation?

Surrounded by sensors

These days, sensors and electronic instruments are fundamental to most of our products, production systems and technological infrastructure.

Digital and electrical sensors can detect everything from light to distance and measure real-world quantities such as light, pressure, humidity and moisture, which are then converted into electric signals. These signals can be interpreted by humans or fed into computer systems to deliver various outputs.

Electronics instruments work alongside sensors to indicate or record physical values like voltage, power, temperature and frequency. This equipment can help to diagnose faults in an electronics system and determine that it is functioning correctly.

Demand for an immersive experience from digital products with superior quality, energy efficiency and high definition has propelled the need for more sensors in consumer electronic devices. For example, the single most significant driver for sensors in consumer electronics is the growth of the tablets and mobile phones market. The maturation of these devices is driving the rapid proliferation of image sensors — a global market expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% by 2027.

On a larger scale, the rise in demand for sensors and instruments can be attributed to the development of smart cities. Smart cities combine data and digital technology to empower businesses and individuals to make better decisions and improve quality of life, utilising a mass of smartphones and sensors connected by high-speed communication networks.

Many organisations are also using advanced sensors and instruments to respond to societal challenges, which is likely to create more competition within the market. For instance, the Missouri University of Science and Technology is developing an electronic sensor that can detect viruses by analysing someone’s breath — a technology with the potential for managing the spread of illness.

Driving the digital era

The evolution of electronic sensors and instruments benefits a broad range of businesses and customers, with smaller, smarter components and devices allowing for unprecedented innovation. But to take new products from concept to reality and meet heightened demand, the electronics manufacturing industry must remain one step ahead.

As a result, electronics manufacturing is changing at lightning speed, combining with the advanced capabilities afforded by Industry 4.0 and the internet of things (IoT) — a global network of connected devices and a rapidly changing technology industry.

Intelligent, internet-enabled sensors are changing how manufacturers capture and communicate information for research, testing, product realisation and development, with the adoption of cloud-based technology solutions and smart production driving digitisation within the industry.

The introduction of the IoT in electronics manufacturing is also refining the management of day-to-day operational processes. Sensors and instruments can automate costly and time-consuming processes such as machine maintenance and data management through advanced digital connectivity, improving on-site safety and productivity.

Access to cost-effective, reliable sensors benefits electronics manufacturers enormously, providing accurate and high-quality data insights that optimise factory processes and facilitate remote operation and integration. And with the global industrial sensors market projected to reach 33.56 billion dollars by 2027, the next generation of sensor technology has the potential to transform the manufacturing industry in ways we have never seen before.

Delivering quality and innovation

Sensor development and advanced manufacturing go hand in hand. Electronics created to improve the accuracy and scale of electronics manufacturing services (EMS) will, in turn, help to design and develop future consumer technology products — but only when quality remains a priority.

In today’s digital world, the margin for error is shrinking as competition ramps up and customer expectations rise. Plus, with the climate crisis at the forefront of public attention, electronics manufacturers have a duty to develop components and devices that can stand the test of time and conform to environmental standards.

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