Device assemblers keen to scale up smart manufacturing amid labor shortages

Labor shortages have become a new normal in manufacturing industries around the world in the post-pandemic era, pushing device assemblers including laptop ODMs and device makers network devices, to further integrate smart automated production solutions, according to supply chain sources.

Manufacturers in eastern China are still struggling to recruit workers after COVID lockdowns were lifted there, as communities may be closed due to sporadic infections and people still cannot move between provinces and cities. Manufacturers’ capacity utilization has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, the sources said.

Laptop ODMs noted that in addition to lockdowns in Shanghai and other eastern Chinese cities, insufficient manpower was also behind their noticeable drop in production. and their deliveries in the first half.

Their production in Taiwan was also limited by a severe labor shortage. Statistics from the Chinese National Federation of Industries in Taiwan show that local manufacturers are currently short of more than 400,000 workers.

In Malaysia, the number of migrant workers has yet to rebound, due to the government’s slow approval process and failure to reach agreements with Indonesia and Bangladesh on labor protection issues. In Vietnam, the labor shortage is also a headache for foreign-owned manufacturing operations, with at least 20 percent of them saying there will be insufficient recruitments in 2021-2023, the sources said.

Labor shortages have also emerged in Europe and the United States as a result of the pandemic. Statistics show that there are two million job vacancies in the United States, but the unemployment rate there is low, highlighting the problem of labor shortages, which is associated with the pandemic and the US immigration policy, the sources continued.

The reasons for labor shortages may vary from place to place, the sources commented, but adopting automation or smart manufacturing solutions has become a crucial way to cushion the impact. and increase production efficiency.

Now, each with a shortage of over 10,000 workers, laptop ODMs Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics, Wistron and Inventec are all actively promoting smart manufacturing operations in their factories by integrating AI-based solutions and networks private 5G to minimize impacts on the workforce, the sources said.

Network switch supplier Accton Technology is building a smart factory in Chubei, northern Taiwan, at a cost of NT$3 billion (US$100.87 million), which can make entire production processes smart , ranging from initial product R&D to manufacturing and final inspection. The new plant will increase production amid labor shortages and improve gross margins with high-value smart and automation solutions, according to company president Meen-Ron Lin.

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