Electronic Test & Measurement in Asia: Trends, Challenges, Opportunities

Article By : Ee Huei Sin, Keysight Technologies

Here are the top five trends driving electronic test and measurement in Asia for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Amid the latest trends and developments in the electronics industry, how is the test and measurement industry keeping up? This month’s In Focus looks into the factors driving the innovations and developments in T&M, the new challenges, and opportunities.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted all sectors of society and forced enterprises, small businesses, governments and private institutions to pivot, in some cases extensively, to accelerate digital transformations and rethink the way innovation is achieved.

Technology businesses are escalating the formation and organization of mission-critical innovation teams, managed remotely as well as in-person. While engineers and other innovators will return to on-site, in-person collaboration, they will be more intentional and strategic about when to do so, as collaboration technologies and practices have and will continue to take on new significance. We are seeing the breakthrough of artificial intelligence into manufacturing, design and distribution. Adoption of the Internet of Things is being spurred by the initial rollout of 5G systems connecting scattered IoT devices in a variety of use cases.  And other innovations include potentially game-changing technologies in the fields of medicine, engineering, environmental science and chemistry.

For these applications and more, the demand for increased edge computing power has surged, with chip makers developing architectures to handle increased demand and quantum computing beginning to target data-intensive problems in industry, healthcare and energy.

Because Keysight delivers advanced design and validation solutions that help accelerate innovation to connect and secure the world, our dedication to speed and precision extends to software-driven insights and analytics that bring tomorrow’s technology products to market faster across the development lifecycle, in design simulation, prototype validation, automated software testing, manufacturing analysis, and network performance optimization and visibility in enterprise, service provider and cloud environments.

Our customers span the worldwide communications and industrial ecosystems, aerospace and defense, automotive, energy, semiconductor and general electronics markets. Keysight generated revenues of $4.2B in fiscal year 2020.

At the half-way mark of 2021, here are the top five trends that we see driving electronic test & measurement in Asia for the rest of 2021 and beyond:

1. Software-enabled design, test and validation

The impact of a hybrid workforce on technology development, design and deployment is increasingly being addressed via software. A hybrid workforce, social distancing and other dilutions of historical work efforts is accelerating software enablement for product design and development, R&D, testing, manufacturing/ production and diagnostic troubleshooting, with remote software-led solutions.

Thus, there is greater emphasis on new software solutions for design, test and validation of digital tools, as well as for the analysis and interpretation of advanced analytics and data visualizations, especially for R&D measurements, as more experiments and iterations need to be tested.

Engineers need in-depth analysis of data which require richer automation capabilities. They also need to test across complex design and simulation as electronic packaging environments become more complicated, requiring measurements of power flow, heat and assembly while validating prototypes to ensure that designs are working as intended.

An example of software-enabled test & validation, lies in one of our own initiatives. Last year, we introduced an ‘Innovate Anywhere’ program to help customers maintain engineering productivity through the pandemic, with remote learning and scalable live network testing.

Security also has a new orientation. Developers are addressing potential security issues, including security testing, much earlier in the design cycle. Greater emphasis is being placed on how products are deployed, the use of touchless and contactless technology, removing human intervention, and fully automating networks that self-heal.

User experience (UX) continues to grow in importance for both customers and providers of software solutions of all types due to the increased role such solutions play in professional and personal contexts, and ever-increasing expectations resulting from frustrations with mediocre experiences.

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2. 5G remains a strategic imperative

5G continues to be a strategic imperative for enterprises and governments in Asia. 5G technology is scaling and driving strong demand for test & measurement technology, across the design lifecycle from development to deployment.

Keysight has the industry’s most comprehensive range of 5G design and test solutions, enabling the global build-out of networks and devices. We continue to see new use cases, and ongoing innovation as the ecosystem scales and adapts to a new technology.

Our 5G solutions approach includes collaboration on O-RAN (Open Radio Access Network) with multiple industry leaders, leading to the introduction of a suite of end-to-end solutions for O-RAN vendors and mobile operators. Our ability to provide complete solutions for network protocol test, security and visibility is enabling us to solve many challenges across the sector.

While the pandemic has slowed deployments, 5G networks will drive improvements in power, energy, and financial infrastructures. 5G will move beyond the smartphone into industrial use cases and the enablement of virtualized healthcare delivery and procedures, and manufacturing and network rollouts will start to catch up with device launches, along with a greater diversification of 5G devices with multiple price points. Dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) and new national spectrum policies will be drivers of widespread 5G deployment, as accessibility to user equipment grows to address current coverage issues and cost of deploying mid-band spectrum.

3. Greater IoT Investment

Greater investment in the infrastructure that enables IoT and IIoT (Factory 4.0), including distributed cloud and hyper-connectivity, is driving an emphasis on private 5G networks for industrial enterprises, which will facilitate remote operation and management, amongst other things.

A growing remote workforce fuels IIoT, and this requires enterprises to deploy intelligent equipment to effectively manage manufacturing and factory operations from a distance.  As a result, we see increased interest in automation and the use of robotics and machine learning to manage facilities, as well as a growing acceptance of leveraging the cloud to automate production lines. This brings new solutions for manufacturing automation, testing and analytics for all components as automotive and other facilities ramp up.

We also see greater investment in IIoT functions for real-time, predictable control, which will require an increase in the number of machines and sensors, and a network infrastructure that can manage this growing number of devices.

4. Automotive, AV, EV

As the number of sensors powering in-vehicle networks continues to escalate, in-vehicle networks need to keep pace.

Autonomous vehicle (AV) development will continue to evolve. AV investment is still modest, but may pick up soon. We see this more aggressively in Greater China, as this region is committed to phasing out conventional gas-burning vehicles by 2035.

Electronic vehicle (EV) sales are increasing, yet they are only a small percentage (3%) of total automotive manufacturing. Interest in EVs  picks up as countries face more stringent emissions standards.

In automotive, Keysight’s solutions portfolio continues to expand with new advanced technologies such as AC power emulation, millimeter wave radar, power semiconductor technology, automotive ethernet, C-V2X, and cyber security software systems. As the reinvention of automotive ecosystems continues, Keysight is enabling the disruptive innovation of new mobility technologies.

5. Quantum Systems

Although early, we expect accelerated levels of investment in quantum computing. Quantum is entering a robust research phase in which the primary players will continue to experiment and invest.

There are many competing qubit technologies – leading ones include superconducting, trapped ion, silicon spin, as well as photonic implementations.  These technologies will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, and the materials research aspect of quantum will heat up.

As the quantum ecosystem continues to form, Keysight is committed to providing customers with a full suite of solutions for the overall quantum stack. Keysight recently added Quantum Benchmark to its portfolio, providing unique capabilities for solving complex qubit error and validation challenges. This comes after the acquisition of MIT startup Labber Quantum last year, leading to the development of Keysight’s Quantum Engineering Toolkit.

About the Author

Ee Huei Sin is Senior Vice President, and President Electronic Industrial Solutions Group, Keysight Technologies. Huei Sin leads Keysight’s Electronic Industrial Solutions Group, which addresses electronic design and test opportunities in the automotive, energy, general electronics, manufacturing, education, and semiconductor markets. She is also responsible for the global Keysight Education Program. In that role, she leads company-wide efforts to establish strong relationships with universities and advance long-term preference for the Keysight brand with future customers and employees. 

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