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What’s Ahead for Automotive Electronics

Grace O'Malley
by Grace O'Malley on July 15, 2016 8:00:00 AM EDT

The electronics content in our vehicles has soared in recent years. Driven by stringent safety and energy efficiency requirements, not to mention drivers’ desires for information and connectivity, your vehicle now employs a vast spectrum of electronics modules throughout. In fact, electronics system are often considered the key areas of innovation and differentiation in the eyes of the majority of the marketplace. This volume can only be expected to grow as more Advance Driver Assistance Systems become more prevalent across all automotive price points and as electric and hybrid vehicle deployment increases.

Electronic modules can be segmented into six major categories:automotive-electronics.jpg

  • Powertrain Electronics such as engine controllers, transmission controllers, voltage regulators, and any other systems that control the engine or driveline of the vehicle
  • Entertainment Electronics ranging from on-board audio and video entertainment systems to satellite radio receivers
  • Safety and Convenience Systems such as airbag sensors, climate controls, security and access controls, anti-lock braking systems
  • Vehicle and Body Controls that manage specific vehicle functions, such as suspension, traction, power steering
  • In-Cabin Information Systems such as instrument clusters, trip computers, telematic products Non-Embedded Sensors such as speed sensors, temperature sensors, fluid level sensors, and many others

In order to satisfy the many varied demands of these applications, along with the ever-shortening time to market demanded by the mature markets, the automotive electronics supply chain has had to change in recent years. For example, the integration of the latest up-to-date safety and “infotainment” systems has pushed the automotive OEMs to work outside the traditional automotive supply base. Furthermore, while car models traditionally change only every few years, the market now expects the latest safety or connectivity features to be implemented in vehicles in a matter of months. These shifts present new challenges for vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers as they adapt to understanding and integrating new technologies and materials into the relatively harsh automotive environment while maintaining acceptable performance and cost levels.

Fully leveraging the benefits of the system integration has required new packaging solutions, which are now being employed throughout the vehicle. iNEMI will be discussing the challenges of packaging and miniaturization technologies for automotive applications at a roundtable discussion that we are moderating at the upcoming ESTC in Grenoble France. The Miniaturization & System Integration Challenges for Automotive Applications panel will bring together automotive and electronics industry leaders to talk about the latest trends and the associated packaging solutions for the industry. Be sure to join us if you’re attending ESTC this year.

iNEMI is also addressing automotive electronics in our recently launched PCB/PCBA Material Characterization for Automotive Harsh Environments Project. This project focuses on the significant challenges for the automotive electronics supply chain posed by the lack of an accepted suite of material standards that encompass all applications and environmental conditions, especially for under-the-hood automotive applications. The project’s objective is to collaboratively identify and understand the range of failure modes, material requirements and existing standards and specifications to enable a compendium of recommended standards to be used industry wide for automotive materials used in harsh environments.

Grace O'Malley
Written by Grace O'Malley
Grace O’Malley is Vice President of Global Operations for the International Electronic Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI). Based in Limerick, Ireland, she supports the global iNEMI team and activities including managing collaborative projects, the iNEMI Roadmap process and interactions with the larger technical community in Europe. Grace’s background is in electronics materials and manufacturing research. Prior to iNEMI, she worked for Motorola in the US on the development and deployment of direct chip attach/ flip chip capabilities and low-cost assembly processes. She also spent two years establishing and leading a multidisciplinary research team at Motorola’s site in Jaguariuna, Brazil, supporting the volume manufacturing of cell phones, radios and cellular infrastructure for the Latin America markets. Grace started her career as a research engineer, focused on electronics packaging and board assembly, at the Tyndall National Institute, Cork, Ireland Grace has an honours bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from University College Cork (Ireland), and a master of science in materials and manufacturing engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago, U.S.A.). She has authored presentations for many conferences including IEEE-CPMT, ITAP and ECTC. She holds eight U.S. patents, and is a member of IEEE.

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