PODCAST: Shutdown’s Impact on Workstation Purchase, Electronics Manufacturing

Lenovo and MacroFab discuss mobile workstation sales and PCB production during the new normal

Lenovo and MacroFab discuss mobile workstation sales and PCB production during the new normal

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PODCAST: Shutdown’s Impact on Workstation Purchase, Electronics Manufacturing
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In June, The Verge reported, “The pandemic has made it harder to buy a new laptop.” The authors attributed the shortage to two converging factors: higher demand and lower supply.

Speaking on how the pandemic has affected the GPU shipment in 2020 Q1, analyst Jon Peddie from JPR also recounted, “For a brief period, in the U.S., UK, and parts of western Europe, retail shops were completely depleted of laptops ... The people were buying and depleting the PC retailers' inventory, but the new parts for inventory refill weren't readily available from the supply side, but the semiconductors had already shipped their chips out, so they were already on their way.”

Could engineers and designers working from home possibly face a mobile workstation shortage? To find out, we spoke to Rob Herman, General Manager, Executive Director of Workstation & Client AI Group, Lenovo; and Misha Govshteyn, CEO of MacroFab, a distributed electronics manufacturing service provider. 

For the whole story, listen to the audio below (intro and end music by Ben Sound).

Rober Herman, GM
Workstation and Client AI, Lenovo

“We didn’t see a dramatic disruption in supply. Obviously, we saw a rush for mobile workstation products early on, but the supply chain has really settled down … The components we use are very specialized, especially the graphics card (GPU). Even with the high-end storage devices and the Intel Xeon CPUs, we didn’t see a big gap in the supply chain … We managed to stay on top of it. I expect other players did as well,” said Herman.

“I personally wouldn’t worry about laptops being in short supply. We order components from all over the world, including China, Taiwan, and other parts of Asia, and the U.S … For the most part, factories have adjusted, and most are now running in almost full capacity. Nothing is not flowing; some are just flowing less evenly than they used to,” noted Govshteyn.

Production is resuming but things are not the same. Welcome to the era of socially distanced electronics manufacturing.

Misha Govshteyn, CEO, MacroFab

“We do symptom checks [at our facilities]. We take daily temperature readings. We have dramatically ramped up what we do for our employees’ healthcare. Even if they just have a slight symptom, just a headache or a little bit of congestion, we ask them to stay home and not worry about burning their vacation times. A lot of it is about making it easier for employees to do the right thing,” said Govshteyn. 

On workstation buying trends, Herman predicted, “Some workloads, like ANSYS and SOLIDWORKS, require the latest technology. So regardless of what’s happening to the economy, or where people are working, these users are going to need the latest technology. For others working on pedestrian work [simple 2D or 3D], maybe they’ll decide to stick with the current technology [existing hardware].”

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Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is Digital Engineering’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at [email protected] or share your thoughts on this article at digitaleng.news/facebook.

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