Supply chain
iST expands service portfolio for automotive electronics, creating one-stop validation service for the entire value chain
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How big is the automotive electronics market? According to iKnow, Ministry of Science and Technology, a Level 2 autonomous driving vehicle uses US$580 worth of semiconductor chips and the cost in a Level 4 vehicle runs up to US$1,760. The automotive semiconductor market was valued at more than US$40 billion in 2019, representing nearly 10% of the global semiconductor market. A massive number of vendors are scrambling to grab the enormous opportunity. However, Allan Tseng, assistant vice president, iST (Integrated Service Technology Inc.), advises that Taiwan-based suppliers need to be aware that the automotive industry imposes specific requirements that are quite different from those of consumer electronics which Taiwan-based suppliers are familiar with.

Not only are automotive requirements stringent but the verification process also takes a long time. Tseng suggests that suppliers looking to foray into the automotive electronics market work with highly specialized verification service providers and leverage their expertise and experience to help complete product verification in a timely manner.

Driven by the automotive and high-tech sectors, the automotive market is advancing toward C.A.S.E - Connectivity, Autonomous, Sharing and Electrification. In keeping up with the trend, automotive industry associations have established standards to ensure vehicles built with innovative capabilities are safe and reliable. Tseng points out those automotive electronics standards, for example ISO 26262, have focused largely on interior components and function modules. Autonomous driving vehicles of the future will extend their capabilities outward to communicate and connect with infrastructure, pedestrians and other vehicles on the road. This is why the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established ISO 21434, which includes a set of guidelines for Internet of Vehicles (IoV) devices installed in cars to take effect in the first quarter of 2021.

Further to ISO 26262 and ISO 21434, which are just given as examples, automotive electronics have a lot more safety and reliability standards for which they have to pass certification. This is a major barrier that suppliers looking to expand into automotive electronics have to overcome. According to Wenston Lin, Industry Service Dept. Manager, iST, the automotive industry imposes rigorous and wide-ranging requirements on the components and modules used in vehicles. In the case that compatibility issues result in interferences, road safety may be compromised. This is the reason why the entire system from components and modules to the complete vehicle must be fully tested and verified.

To help high-tech firms successfully pass certification for all types of automotive standards, iST has joined forces with global automotive certification service provider DEKRA. The two firms signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in August 2020. The partnership coupled with the previously formed joint venture DEKRA iST makes up a complete platform for automotive electronics testing and verification as well as functional safety consultancy and certification.

Lin notes that iST has been making efforts toward the semiconductor industry for years and has built up a solid foundation in electronic device analysis and verification. iST will therefore focus on component analysis and verification for automotive electronics customers. DEKRA iST will focus on the next-level module verification services. Coupled with DEKRA's experience in complete vehicle verification, the three firms will team up and contribute their expertise in their specific field to provide comprehensive analysis and verification services for automotive electronics relevant products.

Professionalism and completeness is the biggest advantage of the three firms' service network, says Lin. He thinks although with the rapid growth of the automotive electronics market, every analysis and verification service provider offers safety verification services for automotive electronics but only on a single-product basis. However, overall vehicle safety is a fundamental requirement. Safety of every link from the front-end component to the back-end complete vehicle system must be guaranteed with safety certifications so that customers can rest assured. The platform made of iST, DEKRA iST and DEKRA provides analysis and verification services from the frond-end IC design to the back-end volume production and shipping as well as complete vehicle relevant system level verification

Aside from analysis and verification, iST and DEKRA also team up to help Taiwan-based suppliers lower the threshold for compliance with automotive electronics functional safety requirements. iST leverages its extensive experiences to guide suppliers on ISO26262 and ISO 21434 compliance with respect to automotive electronics functional safety management. Then, suppliers enhance functional safety credibility through third-party certification by DEKRA. The service model helps suppliers shorten time-to-market and accelerate market entry. iST and DEKRA are now working together under the service model to help a supplier, which will soon successfully market its product.

As a global high-tech hub, Taiwan has strong capabilities in technologies and products. The one-stop service enabled by iST, DEKRA iST and DEKRA will help Taiwan-based suppliers strengthen their competitive advantage and establish dominance in the automotive electronics market, remarks Tseng in talking about future strategic planning.

Allan Tseng, assistant vice president, iST (right) and Wenston Lin, Industry Service Dept. manager, iST (left)

Allan Tseng, assistant vice president, iST (right) and Wenston Lin, Industry Service Dept. manager, iST (left) both noted that professional validation service providers are able to guide suppliers through the convoluted and rigorous process of automotive regulatory compliance and thereby help suppliers shorten time-to-market.

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