Text by: Alberto Navarro, ITCL

The WorkingAge research project is getting closer to start the first in-company tests, a batch of short term tests that will provide valuable information and feedback to enhance and optimise the long term tests that will take place in a few months. ITCL, EXUS and Telespazio are the technical partners configuring the devices to be deployed and running in-house tests with full sets of equipment as a previous step to the installation of that equipment in the companies hosting the three pilots (office, production, and home environment).

However, even with all the preparatory and logistics work that have been thoroughly done in previous stages of the project, the WorkingAge partners are facing an extremely complicated situation caused by the current worldwide shortage of semiconductor and raw materials. Although the root causes of this shortage are too complex to be easily described here, we can pinpoint the demand for electronic components of the automotive and consumer electronics industries as one of the main ones. The automotive industry rebounded extremely faster than expected after the pandemic started, generating an unexpected demand of electronic components that the manufacturers were unable to match, and still lingers on. After manufacturers switched the production of components from consumer electronics to automotive electronics, the shortage impact expanded, causing lead times for anything that contains electronics to be impossibly long. These falls and surges in semiconductor demand have been, of course, exacerbated by the pandemic.

The WorkingAge partners are no strangers to demanding situations and tackling them, as they have previously done before with the new requirements imposed by the pandemic (restrictions, increase of teleworking, logistical difficulties, etc.). This time the WorkingAge partners have quickly reacted and are balancing out the difficulties in finding and purchasing equipment and components by maintaining constant immediate communication and closing ranks to provide solutions and alternatives in the fastest way possible. This will surely lead to a minimum impact of the semiconductor crisis in the deployment of the in-company tests.