Why we closed down in 2020 – A global pandemic

I remember staying up for New Year’s Day in 2020 (transitioning from 2019 to 2020), and while others were watching fireworks, I was studying component prices and emailing clients in the far east. It was during this night that I also remember reading the first reports on the COVID-19 virus, and worrying that a flu epidemic in China could impact the entire electronics industry (China already breaks for a month around Chinese New Year which can be difficult for electronics manufacturers).

As the virus spread in Wuhan, I was already making provisions for MitchElectronics, but only with regards to product delays and shipment challenges; never could have I imagined that the virus would become a major pandemic that would affect millions around the world. The economic effects of the virus started when the FTSE100 dropped in March 2020 as a result of impending lockdowns, and it was around this time that MitchElectronics started to also notice challenges.

Global lockdowns saw many businesses shut down (and many forever), and the slowing economy saw almost no car sales. The result of this was automotive manufacturers halting production of new vehicles, and this meant that the demand for semiconductor parts plummeted to nothing. Semiconductor producers stopped making automotive-grade electronics, and instead shifted their focus towards consumer electronics found in phones, tablets, and computers as these were in high demand. Fast forward a few months, and the lifting of lockdowns saw automotive manufacturers restart their production processes. This caused a spike in demand for semiconductors that didn’t exist. To cut a long story short, there is now a major shortage of semiconductors which was the spark that halted MitchElectronics.

MitchElectronics is reopening

The economy is slowly returning to normal, integrated circuits stocks are slowly being replenished, and as the transition from winter to spring, MitchElectronics is ready to restart operations after its long hibernation. While our manufacturing operations may have stopped, our product development did not, and we used this downtime to properly reflect on our business model, where we are headed, and what we want to work on.

It is clear that our documentation is hugely popular along with our modular kits. Furthermore, we have had enquiries over the past two years for SMD kits and as such are happy to announce that we will be improving our documentation and producing SMD kits. We will also be introducing breadboard kits that will allow customers to build circuits using reusable components.

Look out for our Z80 computer

For years, we have wanted to release a Z80 computer kit, and it is only now that we are finally able to do so. The next 6 months will see the development of a new Z80 computer kit that will let users construct a practical Z80 computer. Ideally, the first computer will utilise a composite video port along with a PS/2 keyboard interface. The use of PS/2 is to keep software simplified while the composite video port allows for us to focus on the software side of the computer.

We have already built numerous Z80 machines, the challenge is deciding on which one we should use. Should our computer be a single board machine? Should it be a multi-card computer for expandability? Should it have a basic TV text output, or a full-fledged VGA RGB output?

Summary

To summarise, we have redesigned our website, we are redesigning our documentation, and will be introducing new products. our manufacturing processes are being optimised for mass production, and it won’t be long before we restart operations!