ESDM – A Global Perspective

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A sneak peek into the world of trillion dollar plus ESDM industry

The Electronics System design and Manufacturing (ESDM), representing the electronics industry, encompases system designing and Manufacturing of simple to complex electronic devices/ instruments such as mobile phones, laptops, computers, music players, cameras, defence and medical electronics, avionics and space electronic systems.  If we consider making, distributing and selling electronic products, it’s over a trillion $$ industry, growing at a fast clip.

Over the years, the electronics industry has transformed factories, offices, and brought sea-change in the segments like home-entertainment, personal-communication, health-care, aviation, public transportation, personal mobility,  thus emerging as a key economic sector that is rivaling the chemical, steel, and auto industries in size in the developed countries. It was not so just a few decades ago. Back in the early 60s and 70s, electronics was a novel industry which was in the hands of scientists, economists, staticians or academic nerds. It’s not so anymore, as it (electronics) has come down to the hands of children in the form of toys to play,  such a stature ubiquitous it’s become.

The beginning

The industry traces its origins to the invention of the two-element electron tube (1904) by John Ambrose Flemming, and the three-element tube (1906) by Lee De Forest. These inventions led to the development of commercial radio in the 1920s, which boosted radio sales to $300 million by the end of the decade in the USA. In 1947, the electronics industry made another important advance when John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley invented the transistor. Smaller, lighter, and more durable than the vacuum tubes that had been used in radios, transistors touched off a period of progressive miniaturization of electronic devices. Integrated circuits, which were developed in the 1950s, allowed the integration of several circuits into one circuit, and the introduction of analog devices in the 1960s vastly increased the amount of information that could be stored on a single silicon chip.

Giant leap forward in innovation

The 1970s saw great advances made in laser, optical electronics, digital and Microwave electronics.

The innovation in the field of electronics have also played a key role in the development of space technology and satellite communications; inaugurated a revolution in the computer industry that led to the introduction of the personal computer; resulted in the introduction of computer-guided robots in factories; storage systems for storing and transmitting data electronically; greatly expanded the market for popular music and culture; and, in the process, transformed life at home, the office, and the factory. Many of these innovations, such as the transistor, had their origins in military research, which needed increasingly complex electronic devices for modern high-tech warfare.

Japanese onslaught

In the 1970s & 1980s, the U.S. consumer electronics industry went into decline as manufacturers were unable to compete with the quality and pricing of foreign products, especially the electronic goods produced by Japanese companies such as Sony and Hitachi. By the 1980s, however, U.S. manufacturers became the world leaders in semiconductor development and assembly. In the 1990s semiconductors were essential components of personal computers and most other electronic items (including cellular telephones, televisions, medical equipment, and  smart  appliances). While U.S. companies are still a major presence in the semiconductor industry (representing about 40% of world sales in 1998), the consumer items themselves are mostly made overseas. Worldwide electronic sales were nearly $700 billion in 1997.

The coming of Internet age

The 1990s saw the arrival of the world wide web (www) aka inter-connected world. What started as an experimental academic project in the US universities quickly spread outside campuses and got commercialized. Organizations started exploiting it for commercial purposes by the mid 90s. By the end of 1990s most of the MNCs were on the Internet doing business with their clients, partners, vendors and contractors online.

With more advancement in technology, the cost of connecting to the internet got so low that common man could hop on to the Internet. The computer electronics Czars didn’t rest on their accomplishments, they continued doing cutting-edge research to bring out slimmer and more powerful computers at most affordable cost. This enabled the common man getting hooked on to the Internet using his computers and with the spread of reasonably priced broadband networks all across the globe, people from smaller cities, rural counties joined the Internet bandwagon. 

Electronics and Internet became a part of life

By the first decade of the 21st century, the world saw many many different kinds of personal electronics-devices like smartphones, tablets, smart watches, digital music rendering devices etc, using which people across the world could virtually stay connected 24×7, though physically separated far and wide.  

World suddenly became one big village and the people became one big extended family. However, with the advent of 5G, the world’s embrace of technology will become even tighter, as billions of smart devices talk to each other to resolve the human issues on their own, thus making life simpler and easier. 

All these things are being accomplished through ELECTRONIC DEVICES, which are at the CENTER of everything.

Conclusion

No doubt the ESDM industry, where electronic devices are conceptualised, designed, manufactured, distributed and sold across the world, became a gigantic industry that, by 2030s, has the potential of dwarfing most other industries hands down. 

However, the world has to quickly find out ways HOLISTIC SOLUTIONS to recycle/ re-process/ re-use the used electronics. Unless it is done, used/ discarded electronics will pose a serious ecological disaster, which may endanger life itself on the planet earth.


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