Foxconn’s change of focus is a smart move, but some emerging technology brands need a manufacturer that will grow with them

Chris Wootton, CEO, Chemigraphic

As manufacturing giant Foxconn “shifts focus to ‘smart manufacturing’” (FT, 6th June 2018) it’s worth noting that its broadened portfolio of products and services is unlikely to be on offer to many emerging technology brands with significant potential but low to medium volumes.

Getting an audience with Foxconn and the other top tier players in the Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) market will be nigh on impossible if you’re not a business with colossally high production volumes – an Apple or a Samsung for example.  It’s true that intelligent manufacturing will drive change in electronics and in other sectors, and AI will certainly play a key part in this, but for those brands just entering the market, there are other more pressing needs at this stage in their journeys.

As an emerging brand, you need a manufacturing partner that values your business, has the time and vision to work and grow with you, taking you through each design phase from initial concept to final ‘ramp’. This doesn’t mean that they can’t offer best-in-class technologies or access to the best facilities and components: in fact, many of the smaller firms will be able to secure these via other routes, for example outsourcing to cost-effective locations such as China.

Remember, every successful tech business was once a start-up with low volumes and many had little to zero manufacturing capabilities. Operating on the same level as the Apples and Samsungs with the Foxconns and Flextronics’ of this world may well be the final destination for these brands, but first they need to go global and that means working with a partner who has the time and resources to get them there.

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