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24 The PCB Design Magazine • September 2015 by Michael Ford MenTOR GRAPhiCS vALOR DiviSiOn Tight money and severe liability require- ments make competition tough for OEMs, as well as EMS providers and ODM counterparts in the market for automotive electronics. Manu- facturers with the technological infrastructure to create low-cost, integrated traceability solu- tions and Lean process controls will most likely succeed in the forthcoming industrial climate, while those with heavy overhead burdens and sluggish enterprise resources are likely to retreat or fail. In the highly competitive automotive indus- try, prices for electronic products across a vast range of applications have generally reduced to the point where meeting all the aspects of quality, reliability, and safety has become a se- rious challenge, far more so than in other sec- tors of critical electronics manufacturing such as aerospace, medical, and military, where price pressure has been far less significant. Automo- tive is unique in this respect, having to provide the most critical of products in the most cost- competitive way. Regardless of the price point of the vehicle, the purchaser always expects per- fect quality supporting a "perfect" safety expec- tation. This is not a new situation per se, but dealing with this challenge in today's evolving automotive environment in terms of increased adoption of technology, is now a critical factor for the success of automotive manufacturers and their suppliers. The Evolving Significance of Automotive Electronics Simple electronics were gradually intro- duced into automobiles from the earliest times. At first, these were just simple electro-mechan- ical devices to make cars work without manual effort, such as to start the engine and keep wind- shields clear. A little later, electronics evolved for convenience and entertainment, for exam- ple, radios and heaters. It is relatively recently that we see the introduction of more sophisti- cated systems for safety and performance, ap- pearing relatively recently in the life of automo- tive as an industry. As an initially insignificant component in terms of manufacturing cost and The Challenges of Being Competitive in Automotive Electronics Manufacturing feature

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