Firms Nimbly Pivot to Build Innovative Products That Use Fewer Chips

(p. A1) Manufacturers struggling with a shortage of semiconductor chips are finding workarounds, executives said, redesigning products, shipping uncompleted units and focusing on older, lower-tech models.

. . .

Boss Products typically used hand-held controls with computer chips to angle snow truck blades. The company, which is owned by Toro Co., hasn’t been able to find enough chips. So employees started looking for ways to use fewer of them. Some remembered that joysticks, without computer chips, were used to control these features until electronics became affordable and commonplace.

“Let’s go back to the old design,” said Rick Rodier, a Toro executive. “It still does the job. It was done this way for 30 years. It was reliable. It was fine. It was just a little more cumbersome to build and assemble.”

. . .

(p. A6) T3 Motion, which makes electric stand-up vehicles for airport and university security officers, is redesigning its products to use fewer computer chips and electronics.

William Tsumpes, the company’s CEO, said instead of multiple components to control features like batteries, lighting and sirens, the redesigned vehicle will use a centralized, integrated board with a single processor to control all the parts of the vehicle. This move will eliminate the other five individual circuit boards, he said. Mr. Tsumpes said it was tough to quickly execute the redesign, but the moves, and an engine change, will lead to increased vehicle range.

“It’s spurring innovation,” Mr. Tsumpes said.

For the full story, see:

Austen Hufford. “Chip Shortage Leads to Redesigned Products.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, Nov. 15, 2021): A1 & A6.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date November 14, 2021, and has the title “Chip Shortage Sees Manufacturers Pitch Lower-Tech Models.”)

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