Electronics Solutions Made Smart
The Philippines’ electronics industry is globally renowned, but Ionics EMS is ahead of the curve when it comes to technological innovation and smart solutions
Writer: Dani Redd | Project Manager: Kyle Livingstone
The electronics industry is one of the biggest economic growth drivers in the Philippines.
Comprised of semiconductor manufacturing services (73 percent) and electronics manufacturing service firms (27 percent), the sector accounted for 61.3 percent of the Philippines’ total exports in 2019 – a massive $32.22 billion.
But what explains this success?
For a start, there are several globally renowned multinational and Filipino firms based within the country, which are able to choose from a competitive talent pool of technologically adept employees. Many firms are also making substantial investments into R&D.
“In recent years, the industry has been transitioning to newer technologies and methods. Companies are reinventing themselves and are getting more and more into digitalisation, smart manufacturing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. It is exciting to be part of the industry as it is fast-paced and always innovating,” explains Jay Chavez, COO of Ionics EMS.
Ionics EMS is also continually transforming. Initially founded as a semiconductor and hybrid assembly company in 1974, today it offers unique vertical EMS solutions for the telecommunication, industrial, medical and consumer electronic sectors, among many others.
Standing out in a competitive sector
In its current incarnation, Ionics EMS is a one-stop manufacturing services provider with 2,500 employees, serving clients from the US, European Union, Asia Pacific and Japan.
Its key offerings are printed circuit build assembly and box-build assembly, but it also offers a full range of turnkey solutions including labour, equipment and logistics. Furthermore, it has a strong product design and development offering which includes concept development, electrical and mechanical design, firmware development, applications development, prototyping and product certification.
According to Chavez, there are many reasons why Ionics EMS stands out from other EMS firms in the Philippines.
“Half a century of electronics manufacturing experience, use of cutting-edge manufacturing technology, and the passion to provide value and service to customers is what sets Ionics apart,” he explains.
Another key reason for the company’s success is its effective management of its supply chain operation. In 2012 it established Ionics Supply Chain Management Center, a division charged with managing all supply chain management activities from planning to sourcing, purchasing, kitting and warehousing services.
“Supply chain excellence relies on having strong relationships with suppliers and partners. Choosing the right supplier or partner, creating a win-win environment and employing supply chain management best practices is how Ionics supports its turnkey business model,” the COO explains.
Finally, it is Ionics’ investment in cutting-edge manufacturing equipment and technology that really ensures it stands out.
It has been implementing a smart manufacturing strategy since 2015 and has steadily converted its legacy lines into smart production lines. Each of these lines is connected to an enterprise control centre, “Ionics Enterprise”, which can conduct in-depth data analysis and make adjustments in real-time.
“Investing in smart technologies is nothing short of imperative,” Chavez explains.
“Implementing smart technologies has enabled Ionics to improve all aspects of our operations. When we converted our lines to employ smart technologies, we were able to surpass the performance of our competitors in terms of delivery, quality cost and service. The customers themselves attributed the significant difference in performance to our smart manufacturing implementation.”
Ionics has also been developing its own smart products for various customers, such as smart gateways and sensors for home automation, smart building controls and smart lighting.
“Ionics has expertise in developing smart products and ecosystems tailormade for each customer use case,” the COO adds.
Looking ahead, Ionics is committed to improving its offerings and expanding its capacity.
It recently opened a new facility, which has both SMT and box-build lines. Along with upgrading its existing facilities, Ionics has effectively expanded its capacity by 50 percent, enabling it to both take on new customers and to meet the increasing demands of its existing clientele.
However, as with so many other industries, activity was curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing community quarantine and lockdowns in the second quarter of 2020 resulted in a dramatic reduction in production activities. However, Ionics was able to mobilise a skeletal force in order to continue operations. We immediately implemented COVID-19 protocols; as the lockdowns eased, we were able to return to full capacity by the end of Q2,” Chavez explains.
Ionics’ key priority over the next year is to adjust and adapt to this ‘new normal’.
To do this it is reinventing all its key processes, from human resources to marketing, supply chain management to manufacturing. This will make the organisation more resilient to disruption and is a testament to its agility.
However, there is a bright side to the disruption. More and more companies are realising the importance of digitising their services. As a result, Chavez concludes the conversation on an optimistic note – the realisation that with its focus on smart technology, Ionics is very much headed in the right direction.
He says: “The current situation has also accentuated the use case for connected systems and smart technologies. Ionics, being a player in the industrial IoT space for over a decade, is well positioned to provide solutions for companies. We intend to expand our IoT offering to address the market needs.”