As a pandemic crashed the industry, EMS companies responded with vigor and speed.

2020 will be remembered as the year of Covid-19. It hit China first, spurring a national response that included the shutdown of all industrial activities, including manufacturing.

That’s no small matter. China produces some 90% of all electronics worldwide. In anticipation of the Chinese New Year, most companies outside China had increased their inventories of raw materials, so the impact on the supply chain wasn’t immediately felt. As buffer stocks dwindled, producers in the US and Europe were socked with virus-related shutdowns. Meanwhile, China came back online. So, while materials weren’t always where manufacturers needed them, even critical components generally were accessible in relatively short order.

Throughout much of the West, demand for most end-products ground to a halt. Aerospace, especially for commercial jets, and industrial electronics were hit hardest, offset for some by spikes in demand for PCs, tablets and related networking gear as telecommuting for work and school became an overnight worldwide phenomenon.

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