Have you thought about EMS lately? Now, before you answer — it might not be the EMS that will come to mind first. No, it’s not the EMS that will come to the rescue in an unfortunate pinch, but Electronic Manufacturing Services. While we might not think of electronic manufacturing services (referred to as EMS for now on), they have influenced us as a society much more than the Ambulance has.
Companies that design, test, distribute, manufacture, and repair electronic components for original equipment manufacturers (OEMN’s) are known as providing EMS, which is also referred to as electronic contract manufacturing services (ECM). While it might not be something the average consumer thinks about, contract manufacturing impacts a majority of the products and tools you interact with everyday.
If you were to suggest that the more commonly known acronym for EMS, characterized by flashing lights and paramedics was more “important” than contract manufacturing, it would be important to remember that many of the electronics commonly used by the medical industry as a whole are the result of modern day medical engineering combined with EMS. With that in mind, you could reliably trace many of the things you rely on every day to their origin: a contract manufacturing facility.
For example, every day electronic contract manufacturing provides the necessary manufacturing of printed circuit boards for consumer electronics, industrial machinery, medical instrumentation, and military equipment. But where do you think electronic manufacturing began?
In the early 1980’s ECM began its reign, easing human resources issues for small companies and streamlining processes for businesses everywhere. By the 90’s, with manufacturers providing on demand manufacturing, warranty, repairs, and more – the advantages of ECM were so obvious that most electronics businesses actually sold their manufacturing plants to established providers.
Most frequently, EMS providers have focused on printed circuit board fabrication, with the OEM’s taking care of actual system assembly. While many electronic contract manufacturers have outsourced their production facilities to cheaper geographic regions, many American EMS providers still exist, providing manufacturing for industrial clients, consumer electronics, medical instrumentation, and more. Today, many EMS capabilities have stretched beyond fabrication and into a number of added services such as design assistance, system assembly, testing, and repairs, software, and more.
So next time you are tempted to take your smart phone or computer for granted – don do it! Think about everything that has gone into making it’s fantastic technology possible for so many things we all rely on every day.