LCD Lead Times: What to Expect in 2024
Behind every vibrant LCD are hours of crafting and layers of complex supply chains. With regard to the manufacturing business, “lead time” refers to the amount of time between the start of the product creation process to the end. In this case, the journey of creating these displays from raw materials and having them delivered to your dock.
Previously, the 12-week lead time was the minimum standard for LCD manufacturing. With no unforeseen delays, it took three entire months for businesses to receive these components. When it came to custom LCDs, there’s no question that lead times were even longer. But what about today? Is Focus LCDs’ 12-week lead time still considered fast, or have changes in the industry given LCD lead times a new standard?
A Background on LCD Lead Times
As LCD technology was still in its infancy, the manufacturing process was more concerned with efficiency rather than speed. It was a labor-intensive, detailed process with a lack of automation and modernity. The working LCD consists of a few components, including display glass, several types of electronics and a mechanical package.
The process involves injecting the liquid crystal, sealing, setting, and then testing the display before shipping it out. So, this 12-week timeframe was established to ensure that the LCD would be constructed as meticulously as possible and that there was enough time for testing and shipping as well.
In the past few years, major changes affecting the manufacturing industry as a whole have drastically upended what was once considered a standard lead time. Such factors include wanting to scale up volume without compromising on quality, managing international supply chains, and demand vs. production capabilities.
Factors Influencing Changes in LCD Lead Times
The LCD production landscape today is vastly different than how it was previously. With technology progressing and changing market dynamics, there are many factors that have come together to reshape standard LCD times, including:
- Technological Advancements – New production techniques and machinery have helped transform the LCD manufacturing process. While this does indicate the availability of a wider range of products, it also can cause a longer lead time to accommodate the variety of LCDs currently being manufactured.
- Global Demand – The demand for all sorts of devices is growing, including medical devices and consumer electronics, which means manufacturers need to ramp up production capabilities. To cater to this high demand, production lines have had to reassess their methods, push boundaries, and refine their production processes to meet them while maintaining quality.
- Supply and Logistics – Sourcing and transportation has become more strenuous over the past few years. Some major manufacturers, as well as their raw goods suppliers have gone out of business. Global conflicts and natural disasters have downstream ripple effects on logistics. Companies are trying to integrate AI into the workforce, with varying efficacy. All of these factors, in part or in combination, signal an increase in time between the completion of manufacturing and final delivery to the customer.
- Unexpected Disruptions – The COVID-19 pandemic, undeniably, has had serious implications on global manufacturing. With every region experiencing and handling the pandemic differently, it led to disruptions in the supply chain, which caused fluctuations in lead time. These disruptions could happen at any time – for example, over a decade ago, the earthquake in Japan increased lead times and costs.
LCD Technologies and Their Lead Times
Unsurprisingly, different LCD technologies will come with their own specific lead times, and these may change depending on your LCD supplier and their potential backlog. If your manufacturer happens to be producing one specific type of LCD, they won’t be able to stop and produce another quantity of a different LCD. Once the assembly line is ready to go, they’ll look to complete the entire order before moving on.
For example, TFTs typically have shorter lead times, but when it comes to OLED, there’s a lot more unpredictability. Given the scarcity of OLED manufacturer, there are often backlogs of orders to complete. Monochrome LCDs on the other hand are less predictable due to the customizable nature of these displays.
Mitigation Strategies for Longer Lead Times
With changes constantly happening and unpredictable disruptions in the air, there are a few ways to streamline the process and work around these LCD production lead times.
The first is to contact your LCD suppliers early in the process. The sooner you have a design verified, the sooner sample production can begin. This time savings then passes to sample approval, production manufacturing, quality control, and final delivery of your product.
Another way is to improve your forecasting and planning. Using advanced analytics and predictive modeling, companies can better forecast any fluctuations and plan orders accordingly. Effective logistics planning ensures timely delivery of components and reduces the possibility of delays. It is also good to choose a manufacturer that can use your forecasting and are capable of setting up supply agreements, stocking packages and blanket orders.
Choosing manufacturers that are transparent about their production timelines and that use sophisticated software and machinery can also give you a leg up on lead times. These providers will often be better equipped to handle a variety of orders while still providing competitive lead times and high-quality LCDs.
Whereas there used to be an industry standard of 12-week lead times, numerous factors have caused that number to be wildly variable over the past few years. However, Focus LCDs is still offering a 12-week lead on most standard products. For custom LCDs, lead times are a little longer, averaging around 14 weeks.
Companies need to stay proactive to thrive in this dynamic environment, so if you’re looking to place an order for LCDs, it’s important to adopt mitigation strategies such as diversification and improved prediction and planning. If you have questions about lead times for your project, contact us today!