All of us around the world are dealing with the challenging new environment of COVID-19. I was lucky enough to just share my home office with a first-level remote teacher!
In reality, businesses are looking for ways to continue serving their markets and customers. Now that we have been living in this new reality for half a year, the trends in the industrial market are becoming clearer.
One comment you’ll hear often is that the pandemic has accelerated many trends that were already underway, and the same is true of the industrial goods market. A consistent theme underlying all trends is resilience.
Let’s analyze trends in these key segments within the industrial market: cloud networking, energy infrastructure, and industrial automation.
Due to the last 6 months of lockdown and quarantine, the use of the internet has grown and improved more than ever before. There are so many people who have ordered their necessities online for home delivery that they will never set foot in the grocery store again. We work, socialize, educate, play and organize almost beyond our expectations and are forced to learn and adapt to the relevant tools.
Fortunately, the infrastructure of our communications and information networks has responded incredibly well, holding up well under increased traffic and loads. Growth in network usage has spurred investment in this critical infrastructure, accelerated deployment of 5G infrastructure, expansion of cloud computing data centers, and even laptop purchases are on the rise.
Cloud computing and edge computing and 5G networking are key application areas for ON semiconductor products, including high and medium voltage MOSFETs for power conversion, multiphase controllers and DrMOS power stages for core computing capabilities, as well as for supporting host Point-of-load devices for numerous peripheral and auxiliary functions of computing and networking. Other key components we provide include timing, clock distribution and signal integrity to ensure good data flow between the ASIC and processor, as well as eFuse and bus protection devices to improve reliability and prevent damage to sensitive circuits.
The slump in fossil fuel prices may lead people to think that there will be a resurgence in the purchase of coal energy and internal combustion engine vehicles. However, the reduction in electricity demand increases the proportion of renewable energy used, because solar and wind energy assets are “must have” and if these energy sources are not used, then they will be lost. As utility-scale energy storage deployments grow, it will make it easier to use excess solar power during the day for peak demand at night when the sun goes down.
The price of renewable energy has dropped rapidly over the past decade, as has the price of battery technology over the past few years, and these gains are set to continue. In some cases, building new solar farms is cheaper than continuing to operate existing coal plants. Compared to fossil fuels, the cost of fossil fuels is volatile and highly influenced by market conditions. But renewable energy is less expensive and more stable.
ON Semiconductor is one of the leaders in enabling solar energy, energy storage and electric vehicle charging stations. Our wide range of power devices, such as superjunction MOSFETs, IGBTs, SiC diodes and MOSFETs, provide the fundamental building blocks for power conversion, delivering renewable energy power to the grid and storing and releasing it from batteries, water pumps and even falling concrete blocks. Our power switches are integrated into modules to provide DC-DC boost and inverter topologies, the system is completed by isolated gate drivers to control the topology, highly stable op amps for accurate and reliable feedback, and with Switches and controllers for auxiliary power.
In the wake of the floods in Thailand, the tsunami in Japan and the recent rise in trade tensions, resilient supply chains have become a physical priority for corporate boards. This means redundant and flexible production that can be quickly repurposed. When coupled with concerns about disease transmission and social distancing, increasing the automation of logistics and manufacturing becomes a priority.
Automated warehouse and delivery robots, as well as collaborative manufacturing robots, are already being deployed to reduce costs and improve quality. This situation is accelerating, as can be seen in the large number of companies that both design and manufacture robotic target subsystems and integrate the subsystems into application-specific machines.
At the heart of an intelligent robot is the digital brain, but ON Semiconductor products enable every other function of the robot. Our leading image sensors are optimized for wide dynamic range and feature a global shutter to maximize accuracy and throughput. We offer a variety of solutions for motor drives, supporting DC, stepper and brushless DC (BLDC) motors with our gate drivers, MOSFETs, power modules and integrated motor drivers. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and Zigbee connectivity solutions and AC-DC conversion devices support other key functions of the robot.
The pandemic has changed lives in many ways and accelerated trends that were already brewing. ON Semiconductor is already contributing to these trends, and we stand ready to support our customers as they transition into the new world.