In the vast and intricate landscape of electronics manufacturing services (EMS), businesses find a crucial ally in bringing innovative ideas to life. This comprehensive article will delve deeper into the multifaceted aspects of EMS, offering a panoramic view of its role, services, challenges, and the ever-evolving industry trends.

Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) – Definition

EMS refers to the outsourced manufacturing of electronic components and products. These services are the backbone of the electronics industry, providing businesses with the expertise and resources needed to bring electronic devices to life.

In the electronics manufacturing industry, products are produced for the government (aerospace and defense), consumer electronics (smartphones, PCs, etc.), and the industrial sector (robotics and automation). Electronic components are also manufactured for the healthcare industry (medical devices). EMS continues to grow under the influence of four driving forces.

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Electronics Manufacturing Services Industry Overview

To comprehend the significance of EMS, it’s vital to understand its role in the broader electronics manufacturing industry. EMS providers operate as integral players in this dynamic sector, offering specialized expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to facilitate the creation of cutting-edge electronic devices.

According to a report titled “Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) Market, 2022-2029” from Fortune Business Insight, the EMS market size accounted for USD $476.88 billion in 2021. It is expected to rise from USD $504.22 billion in 2022 to USD 797.94 billion by 2029 at a Compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8% during the forecast period.

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The utilization of electronic manufacturing services (EMS) is widespread across various industries like healthcare, automotive, and industrial applications. These services offer a range of functions including, testing services, sub-assembly manufacturing, printed circuit board design, and component assembly and re-engineering. The EMS market is anticipated to witness growth in the forecast period, propelled by the rising emphasis on the development of environmentally friendly electronic devices.

Key Players Profiled in the market are:  

  • Sanmina Corporation (U.S.)
  • Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd (Foxconn) (Taiwan)
  • Benchmark Electronics Inc. (U.S.)
  • Flex Ltd (Singapore)
  • Jabil Inc. (U.S.)
  • Celestica Inc. (Canada)
  • Wistron Corporation (Taiwan)
  • Plexus Corporation (U.S.)
  • Fabrinet (Thailand)
  • COMPAL Inc. (Taiwan)

Read more: Taiwan electronics manufacturers

Read more: The best place to manufacture electronics in 2023

What is High-Mix Low-Volume Manufacturing?

Within the expansive realm of EMS, the concept of High-Mix Low-Volume Manufacturing takes center stage.

A high-mix low-volume (HMLV) production environment is characterized by variability in assembled devices, including differences in production batch sizes, applied production processes, and final applications. EMS providers specializing in HMLV electronics manufacturing services possess the flexibility to adapt to frequent product changeovers, necessitating the reconfiguration of assembly lines within minutes. These providers excel in responding to changing requirements and managing increased customer demand.

Achieving success in high-mix low-volume electronics manufacturing requires precise controls and the expertise of skilled indirect resources. The inherent challenges in this environment elevate the risk of errors, making automation, a lean approach (including Single-Minute Exchange of Die or SMED), robust software control, and an organized, smart factory crucial elements in supporting HMLV projects.

What to Expect From Electronic Manufacturing Services Companies

1. Printed Circuit Boards Assembly (PCBA):

At the core of EMS, PCBA is not just about assembling components onto a board. It involves an intricate dance of precision and expertise. EMS companies meticulously handle the placement of components, soldering, and quality checks to ensure that the circuit boards meet the highest standards. This includes not only current industry specifications but also the specific requirements of the product in question. The goal is not merely functionality but optimal performance and longevity.

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2. Electronics Engineering Services:

From the germination of an idea to its realization, EMS providers bring concepts to life. Their engineering services encompass a spectrum of activities, from feasibility studies and prototyping to detailed design and development. This phase involves collaboration with clients to understand their vision, refine technical specifications, and provide valuable insights to enhance the product’s functionality and efficiency.

3. Surface Mount Technology (SMT) PCB Assembly Services:

The advent of SMT has revolutionized PCB assembly, allowing for smaller components, increased precision, and enhanced performance. EMS companies leverage advanced SMT techniques to ensure efficient and high-performance assembly. This includes the use of cutting-edge equipment, meticulous planning, and rigorous quality control measures to achieve the highest level of accuracy and reliability.

4. Cable Assembly:

Precision in connecting the dots – this phrase encapsulates the essence of cable assembly in EMS. Crafting intricate cable assemblies requires a keen understanding of electronic integration. EMS companies excel in designing and assembling cables that not only meet technical specifications but also contribute to the overall efficiency and aesthetics of the final product.

5. Electromechanical Assembly

Blending electronics with mechanical components, EMS companies create robust systems that can withstand the demands of diverse applications. This involves not only the integration of electronic and mechanical parts but also rigorous testing to ensure the seamless interaction of these elements. The end result is a product that harmoniously combines electrical and mechanical functionalities.

6. Contract Design

Tailored solutions are the hallmark of EMS contract design services. From conceptualization to detailed design, EMS providers work closely with clients to bring innovation to the forefront. By offloading the design process to experts, businesses can focus on what they do best – innovating and refining their product concepts.

7. New Product Introduction (NPI)

The NPI phase is a critical juncture where EMS providers ensure a smooth transition from prototype to full-scale production. This involves fine-tuning manufacturing processes, optimizing production workflows, and conducting comprehensive tests to validate the scalability and reliability of the manufacturing process.

8. Supply Chain Management and Procurement process

Often considered the lifeblood of EMS, effective supply chain management is more than just acquiring components. EMS companies strategically manage the procurement process to ensure the timely availability of materials, cost-effectiveness, and adaptability to market fluctuations. This proactive approach minimizes production delays and optimizes costs.

9. Testing

Rigorous testing is the linchpin of quality assurance in the electronic manufacturing industry. Electronics Manufacturing Services providers employ a battery of tests, including functional testing, environmental testing, and reliability testing, to guarantee that each electronic product meets or exceeds specified standards. This commitment to quality ensures that the end-user receives a reliable and durable product.

10. Aftermarket Services

Beyond the production phase, Electronics Manufacturing Services providers extend their support through aftermarket services. This includes warranty support, repair services, and product upgrades. Ensuring customer satisfaction doesn’t end with the sale; EMS companies stand by their products throughout their lifecycle.

11. Obsolescence Management

The electronics industry evolves rapidly, leading to the obsolescence of components. EMS providers proactively address this challenge by implementing obsolescence management strategies. This involves identifying at-risk components, finding suitable replacements, and ensuring a seamless transition to extend the product’s lifecycle.

In essence, what sets EMS companies apart is not just their ability to assemble electronics; it’s their holistic approach to the entire product lifecycle of industrial electronics. From ideation and design to production, testing, and post-sales support, EMS providers are indispensable partners in the journey of bringing electronic innovations to the global market.

Outsourcing Electronics Manufacturing Services: Choosing the Right Fit

The decision to outsource manufacturing services is pivotal for businesses. Choosing the right EMS partner involves a nuanced evaluation of factors such as expertise advanced technology, facilities, scalability fixed costs, and alignment with the business’s goals. This strategic decision ensures a harmonious and productive collaboration, resulting in successful project outcomes.

By working with a qualified electronic manufacturing provider, the original equipment manufacturer can focus on new product development or marketing instead of spending more time on production and indirect manufacturing competencies.

Benefits of Working with an Electronics Manufacturing Services Provider

Collaborating with an EMS provider offers a myriad of advantages. These include:

1. Cost-Efficiency:

EMS providers bring economies of scale, allowing businesses to benefit from cost-effective production lines and processes.

2. Specialized Expertise:

Access to the highly specialized workforce, knowledge and skills of EMS professionals ensures that electronic products meet high-quality standards.

3. Flexibility:

EMS providers offer flexibility in the production process, accommodating changes in volume and specifications as per business needs. Professional EMS providers not only manage the supply chain but also help in building effective planning solutions, while managing them.

4. Reduced Time-to-Market:

With dedicated resources and streamlined processes, EMS providers contribute to faster time-to-market for electronic products.

Read more: 5 simple steps in the electronic assembly manufacturing process

Challenges and Barriers – the Dark Side of Electronics Manufacturing

While the benefits of EMS are substantial, the industry is not without its challenges. Understanding and addressing these hurdles are crucial for sustained success. Some of the challenges include:

1. Global Electronics Manufacturing Challenges:

The industry grapples with global challenges such as supply electronics value chain disruptions, geopolitical uncertainties, and shifting market demands.

2. Adaptation to Change:

The rapid pace of technological advancement requires EMS providers to continually adapt their processes and capabilities.

3. Quality Control:

Ensuring consistent quality across diverse electronic components and products is a perpetual challenge.

4. Electronics manufacturing challenges Impact of COVID-19 on EMS in 2020 and 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to industries worldwide, and EMS was no exception. The disruption of global supply chains, workforce limitations, and economic uncertainties significantly impacted the electronics manufacturing sector. However, the EMS industry showcased resilience and adaptability, swiftly implementing strategies to ensure business continuity.

Trends and Opportunities in the Electronics Manufacturing Industry

As technology advances, the electronics manufacturing industry undergoes transformative shifts. Exploring emerging trends provides valuable insights for businesses and EMS providers alike. Some notable trends include:

Integration of IoT and AI:

The increasing integration of Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies into electronic devices.

Sustainable Manufacturing Practices:

A growing emphasis on sustainable and eco-friendly manufacturing practices within the automotive electronics industry.

Customization and Personalization:

The demand for customized and personalized electronic products, driving the need for flexible electronics manufacturing companies and processes.

Additional Reading: Brief History of Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS)

1970s-1980s: Inception of Outsourcing – The first EMS company, Solectron Corporation, was founded in 1977 by Roy Kusumoto and Prabhat Jain. Recognizing the high demand for printed circuit board assembly (PCBA), Solectron pioneered integrated services for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), encompassing design, manufacturing, and after-sales service.

1980s: Greatest Growth and Industry Establishment – The 1980s saw the establishment of renowned EMS companies, including Sanmina Corporation in 1980. This period witnessed significant growth, setting the stage for the industry’s prominence.

1980s-1990s: Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Revolution – The advent of surface mount technology (SMT) in the 1980s allowed for swift electronic assembly, becoming a driving force in EMS industry development.

Mid-1990s: OEMs Outsourcing PCB Assembly Services – As the 1990s unfolded, many OEMs began outsourcing PCB assembly services to EMS companies, leveraging the cost-efficiency and expertise offered by EMS providers. The advantages of EMS became increasingly evident during this period.

Late 1990s-Early 2000s: Consolidation and Acquisition Wave – In a strategic shift, numerous original equipment manufacturers sold their assembly lines to EMS suppliers in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This period marked a wave of consolidation in the EMS industry. Large EMS companies initiated acquisitions of both factories and smaller-scale EMS counterparts.

2007: Solectron Corporation Acquisition by Flex – In 2007, Flex (formerly Flextronics) acquired Solectron Corporation, a significant event in the EMS industry’s evolution.

As EMS continues to evolve, it remains a crucial force in the electronics manufacturing landscape.

Read the relevant article: PCB Assembly: Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) Process


In conclusion, Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) stands as the unsung heroes, propelling the electronics industry forward. By comprehending their pivotal role, understanding the diverse services they offer, and acknowledging the challenges they face, businesses can make informed decisions to optimize service costs.

Collaborating with EMS providers becomes not just a business strategy but a journey toward driving innovation in this ever-advancing technological landscape. As businesses navigate the complex terrain of electronics manufacturing, the role of EMS providers becomes increasingly indispensable, transforming concepts into reality.

Achieve Manufacturing Goals with Lone Star!

With many experienced years in automotive and consumer electronics, we support businesses at all stages in manufacturing and supply chain projects. If you’re looking for manufacturer of electronics or electronic manufacturing services, Lone Star Technology has the solutions to your assembly electronics contract manufacturing needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out today!