You probably have a cell phone in your pocket, or somewhere close by. Think about how you feel when you accidentally leave it at home. You tap your pocket, instantly aware that something isn’t right and the realization is made – “I forgot my phone.” However, imagine a world where that phone might not exist. It takes a lot to make a phone, but without electronic manufacturing services – none of it would be possible.
Electronic manufacturing services, otherwise known by the acronym EMS are one of the most critical industrial processes in existence when it comes to getting you the products you’ve grown to rely on every day.
When surface mount technology came into existence, it enabled for electronic components to be mounted onto the surface of printed circuit boards, or PCB’s. This eventually made manufacturers capable of rapidly assembling electronics, making them widely available for the general public. For example, when you interact with your computer an electrical charge is sent from one point another using the copper pathways (or traces) laid into the surface of the printed circuit board, providing a completed circuit. When a charge is sent along that circuit, it typically interact with the parts of the circuit board that do the actual work, such as a diode, microchip, or switch.
While printed circuit boards are not the end all be all of electrical connection, they surely make a great deal possible, allowing for smaller devices, miniature components, and much smaller space requirements. Before PCB’s were the standard, a standard electronic device like a television was powered not by a circuit board but by a mess of cables all individually connected to a power supply. So while we might have some of the things we do know, picture a far more antiquated version. Your mobile phone would not fit in your pocket, it would fit in a briefcase and your television would not neatly mount on your wall, it would require a 4 foot deep entertainment center.
You might be wondering where electronic manufacturing services come into the mix, and the answer is very early. After the printed circuit board is manufactured, the EMS provider is responsible for an extremely wide variety of services ranging from basic circuit board assembly and electromechanical assembly to surface mounting, flex circuit assembly, testing, and more. These are the types of operations that add the guts to printed circuit boards, giving them the capability to actually do something more than pass an electrical charge from one point to another.
With EMS, providers are capable of quickly and efficiently putting together and testing these assemblies so people like us can have our ultra portable and high performance electronics. Or, thought of from another perspective, EMS is also used to assemble the electronic components for aerospace, military, and defense applications – putting missiles reliably in the sky and rockets successfully into orbit. If you thought not having a mobile phone was bad, think about how a lack of effective electronic manufacturing would impact an organization like the department of defense. Without EMS it would be a very different world indeed, so next time you pick up your phone or peak inside your computer – think about how monumentally far we’ve come.