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SMT & Inspection | March 07, 2007

Movers and Shakers: MYDATA's<br>Paul Rooimans in interview

Frost &amp; Sullivan presents an interview with Paul Rooimans, Managing Director MYDATA automation BV and MYDATA automation Ltd Area: Benelux, UK, Ireland and Russia. Paul Rooimans openly debates with Frost's Santosh Kumar P the key trends in the European Surface Mount Technology Placement Equipment Market.
This interview has been carried out by Santosh Kumar P, Team Leader for Electronics and Surface Mount Technologies, Frost & Sullivan Automation & Electronics.

Santosh: Can you provide a brief introduction to MYDATA and the products/services it offers?

Mr. Rooimans: MYDATA is an SMT equipment manufacturer; we are focused on low to medium volumes with a high mix of components. We are not active in the chip shooter market; we are active in the market where you see a lot of NPIs, prototyping, a lot of changeovers during the day with short batches which go up to medium volumes.

MYDATA has all disciplines in house; we have a staff in Stockholm of about 220 people, of whom around 100 are in R & D. We are also strongly focused on software and mechanics, giving flexible and upgradeable platforms.

Santosh:
What are some of the challenges you see facing equipment vendors participating in the SMT Industry and how has your company overcome some of these challenges?

Mr. Rooimans:
The challenges of course are to make our own customers even stronger, so that they become leaner and more cost efficient giving them a competitive advantage. We also have a certification program for this, which includes a business camp program to certify them for their best achievements in machine utilisation. This means that when people have a utilisation degree of 70 % in a high-mix, low-volume environment, they will get a certificate from us. So we are really pushing for them to become leaner. On top of that, with the new MY 500 they can further reduce costs. By looking into total factory solutions with for example AEGIS- S/W, we are helping to make the companies more mature. I would say that the companies in Western Europe are now producing at a skill level of 6 to 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. My job is to bring all my customers to a skill level of 8 or 9, so that I make more bottom-line profit for them. That is my biggest challenge.

Santosh:
What do you consider are your key business differentiators and how have they given you an edge over your competition?

Mr. Rooimans: We have two main business regions, North America and Western Europe. These regions require the highest degree of automation and flexibility across the entire manufacturing process, from beginning to end.
Our major focus is to lower the COO (Cost of operation). You see a lot of vendors, who focus on speed, whereas we focus more on the intelligence in the machine. This means that some of our competitors do need a few operators around the machine to keep everything running. We focus more on building intelligence into the machine, so that we can operate the machine with much less operator cost involved. We are not the biggest player in the market; we are focusing on a niche market.
In the beginning our machines were 4,800 cph (components per hour) and now they work at 21,000 cph and my expectation is that these numbers will increase in the coming years. But again we will not be in the high volume steady flow market; we will always be active in the market where you see added value. We are testing components such as resistors, diodes and transistors before we place them on electrical values – nobody else is doing that. For military and aerospace you need to do that because when the Mars Lander is sent into space they cannot accept issues with component lifetime and they want to make sure that everything is tested before the product goes out. Essentially, we are focusing more on value-added services.

Santosh: What are some of the growth strategies that your company has implemented to make forays into untapped markets and expand your client base?

Mr. Rooimans:
Expanding customer base in existing markets is done by understanding the driving forces for our customers and by supplying appropriate value added services and products e.g. S/W based support products, functions for reduced capital and labor cost. We don't enter markets driven by high volume, low flexible production in combination with low labour cost. These trends tend to move from one market to the next chasing low labor cost. When the market is maturing we enter our market niche.

Santosh:
How strong is your R&D, and what are some of the measures that you have taken to address customer needs like data sharing, visibility, reducing downtime, etc., to improve customer satisfaction?

Mr. Rooimans: To be completely honest, you know as I do that the business is in a very mature phase. The SMT business is now almost the same as the copier business, every machine that you now see on the market is placing 0201 component packages. That's not rocket science any more, and they are also placing maybe 03mm pitch. The question is what are we doing with those 100 R & D staff? Our major focus is to make the machines more intelligent and faster and to lower the cost of operator. For these reasons we started with the stencil-less printer (MY 500), which again contributes to the lower cost of operation, because with these machines we make the EMS providers so flexible that they can swap from product A to B without having to ask for a new stencil. 14% of our revenue goes into R & D which is around €14 million. The R & D department has a staff of around 100 people, which is subdivided into several groups. We have people focusing on the new jet printing system, one group focuses on the software, another one group focuses on the feeding systems, and we recently came out with a new ageilis feeder which loads your feeder in less than 10 seconds. Our business focus on lowering the cost of production means we are helping our customers to expand and being competitive.

Santosh: If you were looking into a crystal ball, where would you see the SMT industry five years from now?

Mr. Rooimans:
In the region that I operate in, namely Western Europe in general, we see that the market shrank in the year 2000 by let's say 50%, and we are almost back on the same level now after six years. What we see now and in the coming years is that volumes will not continue to grow that fast, but the business needs more and more value-added products and services from vendors such as MYDATA. That means that we will definitely focus on higher automation in those factories. A way to meet future demands is more cooperation with partners, faster product development, products for more automated processes, more support from S/W- functions and more customer support. We are looking for solutions to make factories paperless, transparent and last but not least to lower the cost of people in the factory. You will see fully automated factories in our markets. In the future the degree of process automation will be so high that it will not make any difference where the product is manufactured. That's my philosophy. By doing this, we are really helping to optimize business regardless if production is taking place in Asia, Europe or North America.
In the UK and Benelux it has been fantastic, because every year I would say that 50% of our business is new customers. I'm sure that no other vendor can state that. We haven't lost any customers of the past and at the same we have also doubled the number of customers in the areas that we operate in. That's quite exceptional, because you know that there are a lot of customers who bought equipment in the past but who cannot switch easily to another vendor because of the huge investment in feeders, etc. Keeping this in mind, we have seen tremendous growth in my areas of Benelux and the UK. We also have highly skilled and motivated service staff the in these areas. Every year we see growth and we make good profits.

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