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Brian Craig Material | July 22, 2008

Indium Corporation seeks opportunities driven by industry needs

evertiq has interviewed Mr. Brian Craig, Managing Director at Indium Corporation in Europe about developments for the company, and the differences of doing business in Western Europe compared to Eastern Europe.
How does the development for Indium in Europe - regarding revenue and profits - present itself?
We are experiencing consistent growth and expect that to continue. Since the initial focus on our leading lead-containing solder paste, NC-SMQ92J, in the late 1990’s, Indium Corporation has established itself as a leader in the lead-free transition in Europe. We have established a very strong product and customer mix – beyond PCB Assembly customers - and we are now recognised as a diversified soldering company in Europe.

Is there any particular region in Europe you see a large increase/decrease in sales?
From our headquarters in the U.K. we coordinate fairly extensive sales, distribution, and manufacturing operations to support the Europe, Middle Eastern, and African markets, but our primary focus is on companies that seek our expertise to solve complex application challenges. It is the combination of Indium Corporation products and technical support that enable us to solve performance and reliability problems for our customers. In terms of growth areas, we will be investing time and energy in areas where our product quality, technical knowledge, and reliability as a supplier are needed and valued most.

What are Indium’s strongest segments in Europe?
We remain strong in the PCB assembly business, especially with contract manufacturers. Customers admire our consistency and reliability (both product and service) in this space. However, applications that require demanding processes in manufacturing or demanding lifetime of the assemblies are where we score particularly highly. Those applications are diverse. We have an increasingly varied customer set.

Additionally, as customers have become leaner, they have lost some of the skill-sets of their middle managers - the people who are the link between the designers and the factory floor. We fulfil that role by understanding design for manufacturability.

Logistics also is critical. Lean factories need on-time deliveries and very consistent products. We have a high through-put, extremely lean, JIT manufacturing process that enables us to consistently meet our on-time goals while maintaining a first-pass quality product. Feedback from our customers says we score very highly in this regard.

Are there any segments in Europe that you would like to strengthen the company's presence in?
Indium Corporation is committed to investing in the future requirements of the industries we serve. We seek opportunities driven by industry needs – and that is a key part of our corporate culture. Any demanding application is interesting to us — demanding in terms of heat, strength, durability, and power — which means a need for high reliability.

For example, applications in the renewable energy arena require a transition from mechanical to electrical energy. Controlling that transaction requires increasingly high reliability on the order of multiple years to decades. We have the benefit of 70 years of knowledge with metal indium and high-indium alloys. With a thermal conductivity of 86W/mK, indium and indium-containing alloys can provide a huge benefit to these demanding applications.

With any new application our goal is to work directly with designers and production engineers so that we can understand requirements at both the joint and inter-metallic level. By understanding the operating environment of a device or component we are able to develop better solutions for the customer. There's a critical difference between recommending a material that needs to perform over a 5-year lifespan versus 30 years — that's where Indium Corporation excels. Both our channel partners and direct sales people are engineering level professionals.

What differences do you see for business in Western Europe compared to that in Eastern Europe?
I see Eastern Europe as the volume-manufacturing powerhouse of and for Europe — large companies providing relatively low cost and efficient labour for the huge and demanding European market. Western Europe remains innovative. New ideas and developments continue to emerge in Western European countries, ideas that influence the world. Despite some views to the contrary, I see Western Europe to be a key manufacturing area too, especially for the demanding applications I mentioned earlier. The blend of innovation and manufacturing make Europe an exciting place to do business, now and in the foreseeable future.

Is there any particular product you feel is working well in Europe?
We are very excited about our latest generation of lead-free solder pastes –Indium8.9 series. We are also proud of our specialty alloys and solders products. We understand that different applications require unique solutions. Indium Corporation has a long history of expertise in metal-to-metal bonding and has partnered in many exciting and innovative applications. These applications make our business much more sustainable and ensure we will be around for a long time.
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