Consumer electronics production is very complex and wouldn’t be possible without electronic data interchange (EDI). This industry has only gotten more intricate as technology has advanced dramatically over the past few decades.
EDI technology allows all of the partners involved in electronics manufacturing — from the designer to the camera lens manufacturer, to the phone assembler, to the distributor — to share documents in a standard, universal format. (To learn more about how EDI works, click here.)
To get a feel for what goes into electronics manufacturing, let’s look at how Apple’s iPhone is produced.
PRODUCTION OF THE IPHONE
Apple Inc.’s headquarters are in Cupertino, Calif., but manufacturing and assembly occur far from that location. Just like automobiles, mobile phones are made up of lots of parts produced in locations all over the world. There’s a camera, battery, touch-screen controller, Wi-Fi chip, processor, networking (3G/4G/LTE) chips, and glass screen, to name a few. Each of those parts comes from a specific manufacturer.
For example, Apple has used glass screens from Corning, headquartered in the United States, in every generation of the iPhone. Other parts come from manufacturers headquartered in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and more, but these companies have multiple locations worldwide. (To break it down even further, components are created from rare minerals mined all over the planet; the details are beyond the scope of this article, but to learn more, watch CNBC’s Inside an Apple iPhone.)
Foxconn and Pegatron
Next, the manufactured parts are brought together and assembled into the beloved iPhone. According to a recent Lifewire article (Where is the iPhone Made?), this is handled by just two companies: Foxconn and Pegatron, both of which are based in Taiwan.
“Foxconn is Apple’s longest-running partner in building these devices,” Sam Costello writes. “It currently assembles the majority of Apple’s iPhones in its Shenzen, China, location, although Foxconn maintains factories in countries across the world, including Thailand, Malaysia, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines. Pegatron is a relatively recent addition to the iPhone assembly process. It is estimated that it built about 30 percent of the iPhone 6 orders in its Chinese plants.”
As you can see, consumer electronics manufacturing is a beast. And EDI is necessary for this process, so let’s explore how it helps move the electronics industry.
Electronic Data Interchange Connects Global Companies
Supplies all over the world make the parts that are found in electronics. For example, Apple, Inc. uses parts from suppliers in 43 different countries! (Source: Inside the iPhone: How Apple Sources From 43 Countries Nearly Seamlessly.) Connecting with companies from 43 countries is only possible with EDI.
EDI enables electronics companies to quickly onboard manufacturers no matter where they reside and allows all of those partners to work with the assembly team efficiently. Finally, EDI enables the finished product to be distributed worldwide.
Electronic Data Interchange Breaks the Language Barrier
It’s hard to imagine working with partners in 43 countries; a standard format for doing business is a must. EDI is a translator; it allows two people who don’t speak the same language to communicate when it sends data in a format both parties can understand. Getting an LCD screen from Japan, a compass from France, and an accelerometer from Germany to the assembly plant in Taiwan is not a problem; the particulars are all communicated in the same electronic language.
TRACKING ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS
The parts of a smartphone may be small, but they are indeed numerous. Assemblers like Foxconn need to know where things are located at all times. EDI allows businesses to see at any point where a shipment is and when it will arrive. Electronic data interchange flags delayed items and other issues, so companies can adjust and save valuable time. After all, you can’t assemble a phone if those tiny parts don’t arrive on time.
NO HUMAN ERRORS
EDI is critical for completing purchase orders accurately. The item number, price, and other data are populated automatically when a PO is initiated through EDI. Accidentally typing the wrong quantity of a touch-screen controller or transposing a digit in the item number doesn’t happen with EDI.
Perfect timing is needed with all the parts coming together to make a laptop, mobile phone, tablet, camera, and more.
This synchronization is achieved by an EDI system integrated into the suppliers’ and manufacturers’ internal management systems. The data is translated into the language required by a company’s software program; automatic messages are created, sent, recorded, and stored without human involvement. Assembly doesn’t slow down because advanced ship notice (ASN) messages are constantly exchanged between partners; when discrepancies occur, they are flagged and fixed immediately.
Thus, the components that make up a tablet arrive at the assembly team when needed, and delays are eliminated.
CONTACT BOLD VAN
If you’d like to give it a shot or are unhappy with your current EDI system, please know that BOLD VAN makes it simple. You’ll be in good hands as we implement our system quickly and seamlessly.
To find out how to get started, contact BOLD VAN by calling 844-265-3777 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.