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SMT & Inspection | March 07, 2008

DEK in Focus: Eastern European Market Growth

We asked DEK Global Marketing Director, Karen Moore-Watts, about the DEK business, its Eastern European marketplace and customer segmentation.
How is the development in revenue for DEK at the moment?
We were extremely pleased with the performance of the business in 2007, and the positive momentum carried itself right through Productronica in November.

Do you have a lot of business in Eastern Europe?
In a word, yes. Our direct commitment in Central and Eastern Europe is significant and now over a decade old. It includes advanced stencil manufacturing as well as machine sales, localized DEK service and applications engineering. We have been recognized by several of the top tier EMS providers for our contributions to the establishment of their own presence in the region.

The entire area continues to flourish, and we see general movement eastward for instance as Poland, the Ukraine and Russia grow in significance. But there is also a different and interesting twist to these tides of globalization worth mentioning. Chinese manufacturers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars building factories there. Getting closer to Europe’s wealthy consumers is at the heart of the strategy, and ex-Soviet bloc countries now in the EU provide a convenient and relatively less expensive rear entry to the market. So, though China’s rise has provided plenty of pain in the past for Central Europe’s low tech low margin industries such as textiles and shoemaking, now dozens of Chinese and Taiwanese companies are investing significant sums to develop or expand factories in Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic. It’s an interesting paradox of globalization.

How are your sales divided across the different regions in Europe?
We maintain a direct presence throughout Europe, but in close concert with a number of distributors, most of who have been with us for many years. In addition to our CE sales and manufacturing I mentioned earlier, we have a similar investment in France for the south of Europe. The German market has been a very significant one for us for many years, and over 60 people work from our sales and service offices there, which also include stencil manufacturing, extensive applications engineering and Applied Product Development Engineering. Northern European sales are based out of our Weymouth England manufacturing and engineering headquarters.

In which customer segments do you have the strongest presence?
The automotive industry is very significant to European electronics manufacturing, highlighted perhaps by Germany but certainly also the case throughout the entire region. So it is no surprise that a large portion of our own European business comes from the automotive segment as well. Our product lines have expanded significantly over the years, though, enabling us to provide specialized technology for mobile communications and advanced packaging, to name just two others. And at the same time, our global supplier status with the top tier EMS providers means that we support the full range of end market products that they manufacture.

Are you experiencing any tough competition from the jetting technology based solder paste applicators?
Jetting is a very interesting technology and as you know one of our sister companies at Dover specializes in ink jet imaging. It is a strictly serial process, so in PCBA, its potential utilization addresses one specific very low volume category of application. In that context, I think it is more accurate to think of it as a complementary rather than competing technology.

What is new in solder paste applying technology in your segment?
Well, in the past six months alone our development programs have resulted in the introduction of new substrate processing technology and new man to machine interface software”. “Instinctiv V9 makes the operator interface to our machines—well—simply more instinctive than ever. And at the same time, it’s a perfect example that as a business we continue to evolve from being a hardware provider to a process enabler. Why? Because this software directly addresses PCBA manufacturing realities such as operator training, product and volume mix, real-time process control, and equipment utilization rates.

We have also recently introduced Reel-to-Reel printing within our machine product line-up. This unique ability is ideal for use with Flexible Printed Circuits (FPC), organic LED substrates, non-conductive materials, fuel cell membranes and a wide range of foils, papers and composites. Applications range from rope lights and lighting systems such as those used to illuminate airliner aisles and emergency exits, to automotive instruments, mobile phones, RFID tag technologies and laptop PCs”. “This fast-paced development schedule is part of our commitment to the Expect More philosophy. We’re constantly dedicating substantial resources to making sure our customers, clients, partners – and the wider industry – can expect more from the technologies they rely on. As we move into the New Year and beyond, this commitment will not change but rather, become more and more a part of what it means to partner with DEK.

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