Role of Semiconductors In Powering Digitalization, Automation, and Paving the Road to Industry 4.0

Sanjay Gupta is the Vice President and India Country Manager at NXP Semiconductors and leads the organization’s business in India while ensuring local compliance with both, government and corporate programs & policies. Sanjay has earned an engineering degree in electronics and communication from Delhi College of Engineering, and his MBA from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. He is also a member of IESA Executive Council which is highest Apex body for Indian Electronics & Semiconductors Association.

With the fast pace of digitalization and tech integration across sectors, the utility of semiconductors has increased tremendously. For powering smart nextgen solutions that hinge on convergence of advanced technology such as AI, ML and IoT, semiconductors are a crucial component. It’s for this reason that countries are increasingly looking at ways to make chip supply lines resilient and invest into chip design and research. Every nation with global ambitions wants to build semiconductor capability that could be leveraged across sectors and provide a steady foundation for future progress.

In a world driven by IoT and ultra fast 5G connectivity that will make real time streaming and low latency a norm

Fast changing scenario
The semiconductor graph throughout the years has been a constant fixture in the transformative leap towards interplay of digital solutions. With exponential miniaturization of circuits and chips, micro and nano chips have powered ground breaking developments across computers, mobility, logistics, transport and virtually any field that has incorporated tech workflows for agility and efficiency. As per estimates by 2025 the electronics component industry in India would reach $410 billion, contributing more than 8% of the GDP.

In a world driven by IoT and ultrafast 5G connectivity that will make realtime streaming and low latency a norm, newer business models worth billions of dollars would make economies more dynamic. The demand for semiconductors is going to hit a record high with the proliferation of these services. However, to ensure infrastructure and tech readiness for the transition to Industry 4.0, faster, smaller, and more powerful semiconductors are the key.

According to a study by IDC, global data volume will cross one trillion gigabytes by 2025, which will require enormous capabilities for data processing and analysis. With multiple interconnected devices constantly communicating with each other and generating reams of data, the chips need to be faster than ever before.

For the complete rollout of 5G and to reap the benefits of digital trans formation that would create enhanced user experiences in fields ranging from manufacturing to transport to telecom, innovation in semiconductors needs to pick up momentum.

Bridging the gap
It’s only via innovative semiconductors that the existing gap between data generation and data processing & analytics can be bridged so that we can look forward to mainstream deployment of solutions that are poised to be game changers such as autonomous vehicles and AR/VR enabled devices and solutions. Real time and immersive customer centric experiences that would become the hallmark of marquee brands, is inconceivable without semiconductors designed as per the most cutting-edge technology.

A report by McKinsey says ‘semiconductor companies need to focus on end-to-end solutions for specific industries(also known as micro vertical solutions), ecosystem development and innovation that goes far beyond improving compute, memory, and networking technologies.

Autonomous mobility and smart cities are two of the most sought after developments that will require millions of chips. Both would be powered by ubiquitous 5G connectivity and high-power chips capable of multiple real time processes so that actionable insights can be obtained.

Manufacturing hubs of the future
5G and Industrial IoT will transform factories with assembly lines, conveyor belts and workers replaced by automated processes and robots. They would require an UWB (ultra wide band) network that provides unmatched precision, bandwidth and capacity. UWB would enable high bandwidth transmission and save power. It goes without saying that the integrated circuits, microcontrollers, and chips for UWB need to be more advanced, faster, safer, and reliable.

Cybersecurity is another issue that needs to be grappled with the dominance of IoT and inter connectivity. There’s a need to ramp up cybersecurity measures, design new protocols, build new frameworks and ensure that data and system security becomes utmost priority. Integration of functional safety and security requirements into semiconductor development is the only way out to ensure that these solutions remain viable.

Strengthening cybersecurity and innovation
For automotive and all other sectors where stringent cybersecurity and functional safety is simply indispensable, rapid developments in semiconductors and building a broad collaborative forum for exchange of ideas between industry and academia is a key imperative. Only through a feedback mechanism and instituting new measures after spotting shortcomings, the semiconductor development can reach the required level.

By focusing on skill development, embracing latest processes, imbuing efficiency and speed and identifying challenges and pain points that inhibit the industry from achieving its true potential, companies can set up new quality benchmark and safety standardization.

All the stakeholders in the semiconductor industries from foundries to fabrication units to test centres and OEMs that integrate components should make innovation a part of their ethos and look at newer ways to boost performance, cut down costs and increase reliability.

In the nutshell, it’s not a hyper bole at all to say that semiconductors are the linchpin in the pivot to digitalization, automation, tech integration and convergence, and redefining industries.