New Healthcare Tech at CES 2020 Highlights Challenges of the Component Supplier Market

By Logan Wamsley

This year, CES has been leveraged by hundreds of OEMs looking to make their mark on a medical field that is currently experiencing growth it has never before seen. This is due to the healthcare industry’s rapid move into the digital sphere, which will benefit not only medical professionals but also individuals looking to take greater control of their own care. As CES itself said on its website, “Digital health continues to grow at an astonishing pace, with innovative solutions for diagnosing, monitoring and treating illnesses and advancements in health care delivery and smarter lifestyles.”

Many of these products, such as AI-related tech, have the ability to transform how medical services are administered forever. The MedWand, for example, is a small portable device designed to maximize the potential of telemedicine by allowing a doctor to remotely perform 10 separate medical diagnostic functions. Glutrac is another such example of how current services are set to improve patient quality of life; Glutrac is a smartwatch capable of monitoring blood glucose levels without a finger prick.

As exciting as all of these new products are, seeing them enter the market so quickly raises an underlying unanswered question: Is the component market prepared to support them? With such an influx of new OEMs who each will be competing in the same pool of limited electronic inventory, the slow movement toward market equilibrium may quickly revert back to 2018 levels. According to SpendMatters, “The continued rapid rate of technological transitions among electronic component suppliers could generate renewed shortages in short order. One of the most critical legacy-part shortages is in the segment for multi-layer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs), so it’s advisable to shift component selection to parts with longer lifecycles.”

Of course, this prediction also comes on the back of additional factors, such as the implementation of 5G, the growing number of acquisitions, ongoing labor shortages, and macroeconomic factors such as U.S. tariffs on Chinese imports. These signs, when taken together, point to a coming year full of potential disruption.

In order to overcome, and ideally avoid, such disruption, OEMs will need the help of reliable third-party services and solutions, such as Partstat BOM Monitoring, to stay ahead of obstacles related to component allocation. As John Caltabiano, Vice President, Global Supply Chain at Jabil, writes, manufacturers in 2020 will need to “wherever possible, track supplier activities and leverage tools that help predict shifts in supply availability and better manage risk.”

Another Partstat tool, Part Search, can help OEMs track the market of each individual part down to average lead time, average distributor price, and average inventory quantities over the past 3 months. The ability to track subtle shifts that may indicate potential disruptions can prove invaluable in a volatile environment, and through Partstat, this information can be accessed for free.