Redesigning, reconnecting, boosting
A time of extraordinary challenge, innovation, and determination
2021 was a time of extraordinary challenge, innovation, and determination for u‑blox and the world, as humanity continued to strive to overcome the ever-present Covid-19 pandemic.
We as humans intensified our relationship with technology to help us co-existand deal with the pandemic, while demand outstripped supply for semiconductors and the materials it takes to produce them. Sudden demand, pandemic-induced disruptions, and several other factors caused a shortage across global supply chains.
Facing the semiconductor shortage challenge head-on
In contrast to many larger chip suppliers, u-blox is not 100% dependenton third party chipset suppliers. Fortunately, we bring our own chips to market– for GNSS and cellular connectivity. With stable, long-term partnerships inplace with our semiconductor foundry and fabrication partners, product innovationand miniaturization, joint redesign projects with our customers, and redesigningsome components, we are facing the electronic component shortage challenge head-on.
Tripling the number of chips on one wafer
By extending the number of chips produced on one waferby a factor of 3, we deliver 3 times as many components with the same amount ofsilicon. At the same time, this miniaturization process is driving innovation, producingmore energy-efficient modules, and ultimately making them more cost effective.
Reconnecting and boosting
Redesigning a chip or a module takes planning. This gaveus the opportunity to reconnect with our customers as we developed a roadmaptogether. Often during the redesign process, older solutions were replaced withthe latest leading-edge possibilities. Our customers also had the opportunityto reflect on what was working for them and where there was opportunity forimprovement. Together, we then incorporated solutions to enhance and boost theircurrent business model.
“With stable, long-term partnerships in place with our semiconductor foundry and fabrication partners, product innovation and miniaturization, joint redesign projects with our customers, and redesigning some components, we are facing the electronic component shortage challenge head-on.”
Recovery and organic growth with very high customer loyalty
Order book as of December 2021 was at 9 times the level prior to the onset of Covid-19 in 2020, reflecting the growing demand of our increasingly interconnected world and a high level of u-blox’s customer loyalty. Sales within our industrial market remain resilient as companies continue to expand automation. The global automotive market is recovering with strong demand as supply shortages begin to fade away. Our consumer market continues to experience strong growth due to high consumer spending. We expect long-term demand to stay robust as we navigate the near-term component challenges.
u-blox teams worldwide
In 2020, when The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, u-blox set up a Covid-19 Task Force led by our global and local Human Resource (HR) teams. A pandemic risk-level framework based on current WHO and local and regional government pandemic guidance was developed for each country where u-blox employees are present.
Frequent, transparent communication
Our global HR team, with representatives from each country, meets on a weekly basis to address current risk levels and make sure u-blox staff have the latest information available. General u-blox work related guidelines are provided within the Covid-19 risk framework with topics ranging from working from home, business travel, physical distancing, and hygiene, to how to report an infection and quarantine. Each u-blox location also has its own work related Covid-19 guidelines based on local government requirements.
u-blox IT was critical in supporting our rapid transition to working from home. We expanded our already existing secure enterprise-level collaboration platforms to make it possible for all u blox staff to work virtually worldwide. As collaboration across all functions is critical, we have to offer the optimal IT infrastructure so our people can work together, share their knowledge, and grow. u-blox Human Resources, Corporate Security and IT work very closely to maintain a secure, highly collaborative digital workplace supporting a high level of transparency, feedback, and communication.
Safety measures, split-teams, increased ventilation
While most u-blox staff were able to transition to work from home, we have a small percentage of staff who work in a laboratory environment. Safety measures were immediately taken at our labs with split-teams and increased ventilation.
“Many of our staff tell us that from a work perspective, the pandemic has been a positive experience. Working without the commute has had a positive impact on work-life balance. The flexibility means they get to spend more time solving a challenge or coming up with the next big idea!”
Concern for each other with no siteoutbreaks
Throughout the pandemic, u-blox employees around the world have demonstrated their concern for each other. When an individual is infected, incidence management is led by the local HR and site management. With transparent communication, while respecting the confidentiality and privacy of the individual, co-workers are informed about any potential exposure to Covid by a fellow staff member. Fortunately, to date, with a very high level of understanding and support, u-blox has not experienced a Covid-19 outbreak at any of its global sites.
Our start-up culture
During such unsettling and uncertain times, it is essential to take a break and chat with colleagues, have a stretch, or take time out to reflect on our well-being. Twenty-five years later, we still have a start-up culture at u-blox with early morning coffee breaks to start the day and a Friday evening Apero. These events move from physical to virtual during periods of high risk. Employees around the globe can also drop into a regular virtual yoga session or join an on-demand webinar on personal health, resilience, and well-being.
Resilient, creative, and productive
We were worried at the onset of the pandemic that resilience could be an issue and that innovation and productivity could be negatively impacted. We have been pleasantly surprised that our teams are resilient and feel accomplished because they know even during a pandemic, they can keep u-blox creative, productive, and thriving.
Many of our staff tell us that from a work perspective, the pandemic has been a positive experience. Working without the commute has had a positive impact on work-life balance. The flexibility means they get to spend more time solving a challenge or coming up with the next big idea!