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The Future of the Electronics Industry in China

2021-06-24

A Conversation with Nick Chen, Technical Supervisor at Pro QC

Each member of the Pro QC team plays an important role in the growth of the company and in improving the compliance standards of suppliers around the world. Today we want to highlight the work we are doing in the electronics industry in China. We spoke with Nick Chen, Technical Supervisor, who has more than 20 years of experience in product design and quality control in China. We discussed the electronics industry in China, how it has progressed, recommendations for buyers, and other key elements of quality inspections in this industry. 


Why is the electronics industry in China so important?

As many know, the electronics industry is closely tied to China's economic development. Furthermore, its influence goes far beyond the region. The electronics industry in China is responsible for the manufacture of many of the products and raw materials for organizations around the world. So, the performance of the electronics industry in China inevitably affects markets in the United States and Europe.

Today, the growth of the electronics industry in China is slow but steady. In the coming years, this growth could be driven by robotization and automation of processes, which, must meet quality standards. The important role that China plays in the consumer electronics market has led many organizations and companies to support the development of ODM (Original Design Manufacturing) and OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manufacturing processes in the country. This was one of the topics we discussed with Nick.


Q: How has the electronic industry evolved in China since you started your engineering career?

The development of China electronics has been an amazing story, and technology has also made great progress.30years ago, most factories only under took simple assembly; 20years ago, OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) was mainstream, and several years later, it became ODM (Original Design Manufacturer). Now, more and more domestic Chinese brands are leading the way. Ten years ago, I joined ProQC and have been helping customers improve their product quality in the electronics industry.


Q: What are the main inspection check points when conducting an electronics quality inspection in China?

Compared with the main issues such as general function, cosmetic, and packaging issues, product quality issues are the most critical to the consumer and those that we aim to find when conducting an electronics quality control inspection in China. We not only follow international standards in testing methodology, but we also repeatedly operate the unit under extreme conditions to ensure its resilience. By doing this, we increase the likelihood of finding an issue and thus reduce the quality risk to consumers.


Q: What are the most critical issues you face during an electronics quality inspection in China?

A good example would be an electronics quality inspection we conducted for a company producing smart home appliances. The buyer requested a pre-shipment inspection (PSI) in China, but they did not have any detailed quality requirements. They only sent us a product image with specification parameters. Before the inspection, we prepared a checklist according to our own experience, similar product inspection records, and industry standards. Then, we set up the internal training material for our inspectors. 

Ultimately the inspection "Failed" due to the number of defective products exceeding the acceptable quality level(AQL). The non-conformities included functional issues related to software, printed circuit board (PCB), and a cosmetic batch problem, among others.

In another case-also a pre-shipment inspection in a household products factory - we not only found minor and major defects, but also critical ones. We found visual issues (poor condition, asymmetrical parts, missing accessories, and wrong labeling) and functional defects (it did not power on and had a short circuit, poor display screen, and more). Even though the quality of Chinese electronics has improved immensely over the years, we still find products in poor condition and the result of this inspection is again "Failed".


Q: What is the impact of the semiconductor shortage in electronics manufacturing?

Today, IC (chips) is undoubtedly the most important component of almost every good using electronics. They are everywhere. The current shortage has had a profound impact on all electronics manufacturing. From the auto industry, which was the first to feel the blow of the semiconductor shortage, to computers, tablets, and home appliances, all have been affected by the shortage causing a reduction or complete stop in production. At the end of the day, customers are going to bear the brunt of the shortage by paying higher prices than they are used to. The biggest drawback is that this shortage seems to be longer than expected with some pundits believing it'll last beyond 2022.


Q: What advice would you give for buyers of electronics in China?

I have four main recommendations. First, the factories they choose should have a healthy and effective Quality Management System; every key process must be under control, and every quality issue must be tracked and resolved before commencing mass production. It can be verified through a QMS audit based on the relevant standard such as ISO 9001, ISO 13485, or IATF 16949. Second, the factories should be able to prove their engineering capability. This implies that they can support product development, resolve quality issues internally, and practice continuous improvement. Third, the factories should be able to scale production so that they can meet future demand. And finally, it is best to have a third-party quality control company in China to verify the above conditions and actions, to avoid unknown and sudden quality risks. This will save time and ultimately cost for the buyer and their customers.


Q: How do you see the future of the Chinese electronics industry?

Although China will be facing more and more external pressure, there is no doubt that development will continue, and China will ultimately remain the key producer of electronics in the world. With the rapid development of 5G, the era of the interconnectivity of all things is coming - if not already here. Artificial intelligence, green power, driverless vehicles, smart home devices, and more will be at the forefront of the continued manufacturing boom in China. This is already evident in the pro-manufacturing policies and investment from the country. Foreign investment is likely to continue to flow in and the domestic market is going to continue to grow. Finally, and perhaps the most important reason, thousands of graduate students are entering this field and millions of engineers are already working in it.

To assist companies that are looking for quality factories or suppliers of electronic products, Pro QC offers quality control services in China with engineers and auditors specialized in electronics.

Contact us anytime at info@proqc.com or visit our website to learn more about our supplier management, factory audits, and electronics quality inspection services in China.


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