William Neo of Heilind Asia Pacific talks about the challenges during the past year, the opportunities this year, and how distributors can help downstream manufacturers adapt to the ongoing component shortages.
Heilind Asia Pacific is one of the largest distributors of connectors, switches, relays, terminal blocks, wires and cables, and interconnects worldwide. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong, where it has a sales office, a regional distribution center, and a value-added center. Other sales and marketing offices are located in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and India.
In an interview with EETimes Asia, William Neo, Sales Director of Heilind Asia Pacific, talks about the challenges during the past year, and the opportunities he is seeing this year.
He also highlights the ongoing component shortages, and how distributors can help downstream manufacturers adapt to this continuing challenge.
EETimes Asia (EETA): Overall, how would you summarize the challenges and possibilities encountered in 2021?
William Neo: Over the past two years, I am sure you will agree that we have experienced an unprecedented pandemic, while our market presents a disruptive business opportunity. Let me briefly outline the challenges that we faced. With almost all borders being shut, our sales and marketing staff have been constrained on traveling to meet our customers and suppliers. In various countries with lockdowns, all manufacturing activities were halted with the exception of essential products. Most of us have transitioned to a work-from-home mode due to authority regulations to minimize social interaction. Flights and vessels have been significantly reduced, impacting the delivery of our goods amid skyrocketing transportation costs.
However, amid these challenges, we have also witnessed the remarkable resilience of mankind. The successful development of COVID vaccines have proved it clearly. There is also the emergence of thriving firms during this pandemic, who can leverage on their innovative technologies such as Zoom, which provides effective online interaction. This demonstrates that any organization needs to arm itself with capabilities to navigate itself through the pandemic barriers, by providing values to its targeted customers.
One fundamental factor is clear for now, and even applies to a post-pandemic world—that is, all firms, regardless of size or industry, need to implement their e-commerce platform effectively, to reach out to their customer base digitally.
EETA: This year, which market segments are you optimistic about the prospects? How will your company position itself to take advantage of these opportunities?
Neo: Moving into 2022, the lingering effect of global pandemic challenges are expected to continue. We are transforming into a hybrid world where physical interaction, serves almost equally as strategically important as online, real-time communication. Among the global population, there is also an uprising mindfulness of work effectiveness, sustainability, and healthy lifestyles. As such, we will see the dominance of these segments driving the market over the next few years: 5G infrastructure, networking, and back-end computing servers; clean energy, including electric vehicles [EV] and efficient energy storage; healthcare and medical equipment; and consumer electronics, smart Home, and IoT devices.
Over the years, we have developed internal teams to focus on these market segments. Firstly, we acquired our technical competence from our strategic suppliers. We have trained our internal resources to position ourselves to address these segments, and we explore our targeted market deeply, at both existing and new customers. Internally, we share our success stories, as well as our failures, so that as a team we learn and grow together. We are actively witnessing interesting harvests from our hard work, and we are determined to continue our momentum into 2022 and beyond.
What trends will drive the industry? Will the supply chain issue ease up soon? How will the electronics/semiconductor manufacturing landscape look like? In this month’s In Focus, find out what manufacturers expect to happen in the industry, and what they hope for, or wish for, in the coming year.
EETA: Do you think the component shortage market will continue in 2022? Why?
Neo: Let us examine a few reasons for the component shortage situation that has been ongoing since 2020. The ramp up of medical devices in this pandemic; the increased demand of home appliances, PC, networking and mobile devices due to the work-from-home requirement; as well as the rapid emergence of EVs and power charging stations—all these factors have inevitably induced a big upswing on the demand for electronics components. Raw material shortages, like resins and chemicals, have also added to the woes of this situation.
No crystal ball will tell us exactly how long this will last. However, I believe this shortage situation will carry us into the second half of 2022, or maybe even longer. The main reason is that you need to look very closely at the backend semiconductor equipment manufacturers. These companies supply their products to wafer fab companies such as TSMC and Samsung. Their businesses have been striving and the lead-time of their products are getting longer. We also see many companies splashing out investments to increase their wafer fab capacity, but the deployment of a new wafer fab will take several years to complete.
Conversely, there are also signs of overbooking orders in the general market, coupled with a high inflation trend. These risks may translate to a pull-back on market demands, thus derailing our economic growth. The critical action for us to take is to constantly observe both sides of the supply chain. Any abnormality will need to be analyzed swiftly on the possible near-term impact.
EETA: How can distributors assist downstream manufacturers to adapt to the continuing device shortage?
Neo: For us, as a global distributor of interconnect and hardware products, including fasteners, we are very laser-focused on our core products. We consistently drive our competitive advantages. When a customer buys a product from us, apart from our competitive prices, our services include fast delivery, engineering support, quality assurance, and even small volume support during the initial phase of NPI (new product introduction).
With an established global network and extensive inventory position, we stock up a broad base of our products. For e-commerce capability, we have our easy-to-use eStore, where any customer can check our stocks, buy, and track their order status conveniently. Moving forward, we intend to continue to be nimble, and conscientiously adapt to market changes, especially in this shortage situation.
Stephen Las Marias is the editor of EETimes Asia. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.