In an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 disease, government officials and world leaders have issued orders to designate certain businesses and organizations as “essential services”.
Those who do not fall under the designation are required to close their physical workplaces to workers, but are encouraged to adopt remote-based operations that will inhibit physical interaction or social proximity.
The directive will undoubtedly have an immediate and widespread impact to most, if not all, national sectors and industries. Including semiconductor and electronics manufacturers—who play a vital role in supporting numerous divisions of the global economy, and overall national infrastructure; most notably, the healthcare industry.
Providing “Essential” Electronics
The semiconductor industry and its workforce are considered a necessity to secure a country’s “critical infrastructure” by ensuring the continuity of functions that are needed for public health and safety, along with economic and national security.
The use of semiconductors and electronic products have long been integrated into the medical devices now considered indispensable for COVID-19 patients to survive the illness. As well as flattening the curve—the concept of slowing a virus’ spread in order for medical facilities to avoid being overrun by patients and exhaust the necessary equipment to treat them.
Despite notable impact to the electronics industry from the pandemic, several electronics manufacturers are playing their pivotal parts to overcoming the global health crisis.
Electronics manufacturers and suppliers are striving to maintain production levels during the pandemic.
Prioritising Production for Medical Devices
A number of electronics manufacturers have released statements detailing their response to COVID-19 and the measures they’ll be taking to help the global effort.
Analog Devices has notably announced that it will expedite its production of healthcare technologies to help in fighting COVID-19. Which includes critical measurement and control technologies used in medical equipment for diagnosing and treating patients.
Bel Fuse has also refocused its production to prioritize supply products that directly support the medical industry. Overall, it seems a majority of manufacturers and suppliers are striving to meet the needs of customers by keeping production levels up while implementing safety and health procedures for employees.
A Greater Demand Than Supply Can Satisfy
The demand for medical devices and equipment remains alarmingly high as the weeks turn into months and the world continues to struggle to contain the pandemic.
Though electronics component suppliers and manufacturers have demonstrated their determination to support those demands, it will not be an easy undertaking. The anticipated disruption to electronics supply chains due to idling overseas manufacturing efforts is a valid concern.
There’s also the matter of what it takes to develop modern medical devices, especially at the rate and number that are predicted necessary for infection spikes in the future.
A view of a semiconductor cleanroom provided by Samsung Electronics.
Persevering As an Industry
Regardless of the significant challenges the electronics industry faces in responding to COVID-19, there are even more signs that it is well-equipped to overcome them. Many activities in key overseas areas like China are resuming, such as semiconductor design, manufacturing, as well as packaging and testing facilities—all the while maintaining high capacity utilization rates during the nation-wide shutdown.
The semiconductor industry has long practiced the implementation of safety and health measures in the workplace, specifically highly automated and well-maintained semiconductor cleanrooms.
There are strict protocols that minimize the risk of contamination in these facilities. Including the requirement of workers wearing protective gear like hoods, face masks and gloves. With company leadership putting the wellbeing of their employees first, it’s a clear sign that the industry as a whole is recognizing their greatest asset.