Will Apple lead the global supply chain to grow again with a new product offering?

Apple CEO Tim Cook hinted at Apple’s work on augmented reality (AR) in a media interview, telling fans to “stay tuned” and see what they have to offer. Something is already in the works, right? Then observations from Apple supplier suppliers may have some value for people to listen to.

William Yeh, Aerotech Taiwan and North Asia Regional Sales Manager, told DIGITIMES, “While it is impossible to predict the future, there will always be companies pushing the boundaries and driving growth across the supply chain.”

“The rapid iteration of consumer electronics technology, for example VR glasses or AR glasses, needs to be much lighter and ergonomically feasible. Innovations and new designs as such will boost the demand side and drive the supply chain to come up with new solutions for advanced manufacturing, said Yeh.

Aerotech is an American company that was founded in 1970 and has kept a low profile. It solves motion control and automation problems for complex applications in the world’s most demanding industries, including the semiconductor, display, laser and photonics industries, as well as many relevant research and development areas. In the semiconductor industry, alignment movements in EUV/DUV performed with extremely high precision, laser scanning to detect the smallest defects on wafers, or wafer drilling and bounding, Aerotech plays a role in the processing equipment.

Since Aerotech serves customers in so many industries, the company sometimes has access to a bird’s-eye view of certain new trends that are on the way.

“As a supplier to customers who are upstream supply chain companies, we often work with them to develop new cutting-edge processes to meet their needs, improving precision and throughput every step of the way. These growth opportunities are very important to our customers because our advanced technology allows them to differentiate themselves from their competitors by increasing the value of their products,” said Yeh.

Aerotech’s strength lies in its ability to initiate customer processes, from conceptual feasibility studies to finally being able to manufacture products with the right automation technology, Yeh said. “Essentially, we provide complete solutions, not just products, to our customers.”

MicroLED is a high-contrast sub-generation display and is very efficient in power consumption, which Yeh sees as promising. It is quite competitive in performance compared to advanced OLED. However, the cost of producing microLED displays is still too high, it will take coordinated efforts from supply chain partners to reduce costs, Yeh said.

Shared insights based on the company’s observations, Yeh said that growth opportunities so far are mainly related to the advancement of consumer electronics. The devices used in modern consumer electronics such as displays, semiconductors and printed circuit boards (PCBs) are all advancing, resulting in a more challenging manufacturing process.

Yeh pointed out that in Northern Asia many opportunities are emerging in advanced manufacturing processes for wearables, wearable devices and even AR/VR. As far as North America is concerned, semiconductor and packaging equipment are the booming sectors. It takes several players within the supply chain to drive the optimization of some processes or components to realize some end products.

“The biggest limitation for VR/AR devices right now isn’t computing power, it’s portability. Companies haven’t figured out how to make the devices slimmer, lighter and easier to wear while still producing excellent virtual reality experiences that users can immerse without feeling physically strained or fatigued,” Yeh said. “For example, in the 2018 sci-fi movie ‘Ready Player One’, VR users’ movements are not restricted by power cables.” If some companies can design highly ergonomic VR/AR products, while manufacturing capabilities deliver major breakthroughs to make the scene a reality, it will push the entire supply chain to move with it, Yeh said.

When the industry faces an unexciting smoothing cycle, there are always companies that keep a razor-sharp focus on advancing next-generation innovative technologies. iPhone was launched in 2007, but the start of R&D could have happened as early as the time when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000-2001.

Apple’s iPhone and iPad have allowed the global consumer electronics supply chain to grow at astonishing rates over the past decade. Many people are probably hoping for the emergence of a next-generation innovative product to kick off a new cycle soon, as the technology cycle correction has just begun, due to uncertainties in economic growth, pandemic and geopolitical tensions.

To make that happen, not only do companies like Apple, Alphabet, Meta of Acer, HTC and Asus need to come up with smart product offerings and innovative designs, but they also need engineers in semiconductor companies and panel display companies to get started. to advance high-precision work to realize innovative designs.

Few people know that while Apple basks on stage in all its glory, the semiconductor industry is moving towards the sub-nanometer level to keep Moore’s law alive, and there are many more unsung heroes like Aerotech backing them up with motion. control systems of high throughput, high precision at nanometer precision levels – and these capabilities are critical features that many semiconductor manufacturers cannot do without.

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