For Anders and so many others, COVID-19 has been a change catalyst. In this second of a three-part series, (part 1: Disrupt, Adapt, Thrive) Anders employees examine how the pandemic forced electronic manufacturers and their suppliers to re-examine their processes, find new ways to make business work, and in Anders’ case become stronger, together.
The technology disruption
Mike Logan - Senior Product Manager
As seen from the perspective of 2019, 2020 did look promising. We were all geared up and looking forward to the challenge ahead. Looking at industry trends in line with customer requirements, 2020 started to look like a breakthrough year for us.
As we entered into a new decade, the trend was growing from monochrome to full colour, so the future looked bright.
We could see that the small TFT market was growing. There was significantly more interest and as prices were coming down to be more in line with monochrome displays, we were confident that we were very well positioned in this competitive landscape.
Then the pandemic hit, which affected the majority of our customers.
The reality is that it interrupted our forecasted projects as it naturally postponed product enhancement and improvements. So, we had to adapt to a new reality, and as a newly expanded team, I think we excelled at identifying where the market needed our support and how we could offer our knowledge with speed of execution during these unprecedented times.
Christian Madella - Engineering Team Lead
As we reflected on 2019, of course 2020 looked very futuristic. We had an eye on ‘The Consumer Electronics Show’ (CES) in Las Vegas in January 2020, where we witnessed new opportunities and innovative solutions in display technology, that we believed would become key technology drivers and influencers for many of the markets we serve including medical, industrial, home appliance and marine.
COVID-19 was so unexpected, and everyone was so unprepared. We have often discussed industry disruptors, in order to strategically prepare Anders for any circumstance or event, but this was one that we didn’t see coming. Nobody did. But it did come, and as a company, we didn’t want to just go into survival mode, we wanted to thrive by rising to the challenges the virus brought into our profession.
As a company, we quickly realised that we had a responsibility to share our engineering know-how with our customers, especially those in the medical market. We understood that researching and finding innovative solutions to ensure our touchscreen technology was safe to the touch was paramount for everyone to feel secure and safe.
What will 2021 bring?
Mike: From a technology perspective, we are confident that we will see a rise in AMOLED displays. We’re just patiently waiting for them to step out of the consumer market, predominantly smartphones, and become more accessible for the industrial market where Anders specialises. Our manufacturing partners have made significant investments in their facilities to the able to produce AMOLED displays at scale. It’s still a relatively new technology and like all new display technologies, it takes time for certain panels to filter down from high mass-produced consumer projects to smaller batch sizes manageable for industrial projects.
Quite simply, the contrast levels and colour saturation compared to LCDs is far superior as are the viewing angles. The consumer industry demands this level of quality, but as we as consumers get used to seeing this in our day-to-day lives, so the need and want moves into other industries where Anders sits.
Another consumer industry led trend that will filter down will be an increase in demand for QLED displays. QLED displays deploy special back lights, which operate quantum dot technologies. This is what provides the user with true red, green, and blue colours. This is what we refer to as the full spectrum and gives really good, vibrant colours and enhanced viewing angles. Mainly seen in the television market at present, we will see this type of technology ripple into other industries as it becomes more accessible and price point attainable.
And, thirdly, the flexible OLED display is very exciting. During ‘Black Friday’, Thanksgiving and in the run up to Christmas, every advert break had a promotion for a foldable phone. It’s very hot technology right now. But it holds a game changing future outside of the smartphone arena too. Anders have manufacturing partners developing this type of technology right now, so watch this space as this becomes within other industries’ reach.
We continue to receive many enquiries for circular and square displays. Customers who want to set their product apart from their competition are looking at different shapes and sizes. It gives the new product designer and developer a greater opportunity to style the enclosure in such a way that only a circular display could fit into. We’ve heard that 2021 will drive innovation and continue to push boundaries. Imagination is the only limitation, and our customers creativity is boundless. This is why we will see more and more bespoke and individualism in industrial display design in 2021.
Christian: Transitioning to IPS for improved performance will continue to happen this year. There is an expectation for products to perform to enhanced standards. This is why we are seeing such a high demand for colour display projects to move from TN-TFT to IPS-TFT which is quickly being recognised as the best technology to use if you require sharper image quality, enhanced saturation, brighter vision and wider viewing angles.
IPS-TFTs are not quite up to the standard discussed by Mike of OLEDS and QLED, but they are more that fit for function for a significant portion for the industrial projects that we work on in Anders.
So, in 2021, I think we will work with current customers on the conversion of their current display technology from monochrome to colour and/or from colour to superior IPS-TFT and OLED performance
It’s an exciting cycle of display performance improvement and enhancement.