© beatricee-dreamstime.com PCB | April 02, 2014
RUWEL is investing in its future
RUWEL - a history-charged name within the PCB industry – is getting back on its feet. More so, the company is looking towards the future. And a bright one it seems.
Many things have happened prior and after that day in 2009, when the company had to file for insolvency. Struggle to keep afloat; with BlueBay a new investor and finally – in Unimicron – a new owner. Since then, the company has worked hard to secure a future and has kept away – rather successfully I might add – from the prying eyes of the media. As it so happens, Evertiq seems to be in their good books and we were able to have a chat with General Manager Mr. van Dierendonck.
Gerard van Dierendonck2008/2009 – difficult years for the entire economy. Many companies – RUWEL is not the only one – struggled for survival. Given the fact that the German PCB manufacturer relied heavily on one customer (this customer started to transfer a large part of production to Asia), this proved to be impossible. In the beginning of 2009, RUWEL – a household name within the PCB industry – had to file for insolvency. What followed was a several month long struggle that affected many people. “We were almost exclusively focused on the automotive industry. When we started to migrate to a healthier portfolio, we were a manufacturer that delivered 90% of its output to only one automotive tier1 supplier. Now we have 15% Automotive and 85% Industry. That is what saved RUWEL. We managed to secure a replacement customer that also worked in serial production”, states Gerard van Dierendonck. But, as the manager points out, the migration is not complete yet. Automotive customers and those coming from the Renewable Energy sector comprise a large part of the customer portfolio. Next to that, efforts to penetrate the industry sector and its more stable environment became quite successful. RUWEL is now working with 20 customers from this sector, a rather significant increase compared to the smaller base in the past. “We changed our portfolio from high volume/low mix to the exact opposite. But for us to be successful we needed to invest.” Serious investigations regarding needed equipment to be ready for future technical market requirements, resulted in an investment list of almost EUR 10 million within 2 years. Now, the process of transforming the German facility is in full swing, about 30% of the new equipment is already installed. During the upcoming months the manufacturer will extend its technical and capacity capability in the innerlayer plant. "After the summer we will bring our complete soldermask department to a higher level. Within the space of 1 year, we expanded in innerlayer, outerlayer as well as in soldermask from conventional UV exposing to LDI exposing!" "Next to that, we also invest heavily in equipment for higher flexibility to reduce setup times and handling smaller lot sizes (e.g. 3 new flying probe testers, inkjet printer, X-ray, routing, AOI’S, etc.) If all goes to plan, then the first step in this transformation will be finished by the middle of the year. ” RUWEL – since 2011 running Unimicron's High Reliability Business Unit (HRBU) – also manages a production facility in Kunshan (China). “The prototypes, small- and mid-volume series are done here in Geldern. If the volumes ramp up, we transfer production and know-how to our Kunshan facility.”
----- Facility in Geldern / GermanyThe facility has now reached full capacity levels and Unimicron is investing in a new facility in China to meet the demand of our European customers. Intended for production for automotive customers, the new facility will be used for customers from the consumer electronics sector, while necessary certification procedures are underway. Unimicron is, among others, supplier for the PlayStation 4 mainboards. After certifications and audit approvals have been obtained, the new facility will produce in connection with Geldern. 2013 seems to have been a busy year, when looking at the money spend. How did business go? “Turnover for the Geldern facility amounted to EUR 40 million. A little less than in the years before, because of the decrease in demand of the solar industry. Luckily there are positive signs for the solar industry and we believe that business is picking up again. At the moment we don't know how the SMA - Danfoss deal will affect us. It could be positive. The signals that I have are pointing in a positive direction. But it is only a signal, I cannot say more for certain.” RUWEL has been on the European PCB landscape for many, many years. A lot of changes took place; fewer players competing for fewer customers. Is there actually a chance that we will see a new RUWEL manufacturing facility in Europe? “Let's be honest about it. 20 years ago, we had around 1'500 PCB plants in Europe. What we can see now, in 2015 there may be only 100. I don't believe there is economic room for more capacity in Europe. That is why we invest, because only the best will survive in the future. Only those who are able to adapt to the changing landscape.” The manager sees RUWEL within the Top5 manufacturers in Europe. “That is where we want to be. You have to run the right mix and have the right customers, ensure that you have the right equipment and most important of all, have the right people in the company. If we can stay in the Top5 here in Europe, than we have reached a very noble goal.” A lot has been said about companies importing PCBs from China and jeopardizing the livelihood of PCB producers here in Europe. What is your take on that subject? “To compete with traders/ suppliers, we first have to make a deal with Brussels. When I buy base material to produce here in Europe, I have to pay taxes. In contrast, if I import complete boards from China, then there are no taxes. Therefore traders have a huge advantage.” “15 years ago there were more than 10 base material suppliers here in Europe. Now there are 2: Isola (Germany) and Panasonic (Austria). I am afraid to think about what will happen if one or both companies close their doors here in Europe and we have to buy base material from Asia. That would make our position even worse.” “I don't think that we will be able to beat the Chinese companies in trading. However, I also believe that the price difference between European and China-produced PCBs will get less prominent as costs in China are on the rise.” “At the end of the day, here in Europe there is only room for dedicated PCB manufacturers with a clear vision and an organization setup to realize this. They must have the latest technology in house to produce the boards accordingly. That is what RUWEL is working on. We want to keep on servicing European customers with the best boards possible." ----- All images © Ruwel
KUKA restructures subdivision due to economic uncertainty KUKA is restructuring a subdivision in the Robotics segment that is responsible for automated manufacturing solutions such as cells and special machines.
PCB industry recovers slightly in Q3 PCB manufacturers in the D/A/CH region were able to increase sales sequentially in the third quarter of 2019 by 1.1%. However, sales figures are 11% lower than those recorded for the third quarter of 2018, reports the industry association ZVEI PCB and Electronic Systems.
Garz & Fricke moves into new HQ in Hamburg-Harburg Garz & Fricke GmbH continues to expand. As of late October, the business operations of the HMI and Panel PC specialist will be transferring to the new headquarters in in Hamburg-Harburg.
TF Massif Technologies taps new CEO British Columbia-based TF Massif Technologies has announced the appointment of Tom Peregoodoff as the company’s new chief executive officer.
DoJ: Google, Fitbit deal under review The U.S. Justice Department is looking into anti-trust issues concerning Google's bid to buy Fitbit Inc.
L3Harris Tech secures U.S. Marine Corps order L3Harris Technologies received a USD 50 million follow-on delivery order for Falcon III AN/PRC-160 HF radios and related equipment from the U.S. Marine Corps .
Metair completes Romanian lithium-Ion battery cell factory South African energy storage company, Metair Investments, says that its Romanian units Prime Batteries and Rombat have completed the installation of the group's first Lithium-Ion battery cell manufacturing and assembly facility in Bucharest, Romania.
£5m award marks ‘topping out’ of Cardiff research powerhouse An GBP 80 million Cardiff University powerhouse for Welsh scientific research has been ‘topped out’ by Bouygues UK – backed by over GBP5 million support from Welsh Government and industrial partners.
Advanced Energy expands with new lab near Frankfurt Advanced Energy Industries, Inc. has opened its Advanced Materials Processing (AMP) Showcase Lab near Frankfurt, Germany.
TTM Technologies unveils NY engineering center On the heels of its acquisition of manufacturing and IP assets from i3 Electronics Inc., TTM Technologies has announced the opening of a new engineering center in Binghamton, NY.
EU Commission to support pan-European battery development Seven member states will provide, in the coming years, up to EUR 3.2 billion in funding to support research and innovation in the common European priority area of batteries.
The pulse of the electronics industry Growth is slowing worldwide and the industry’s outlook is less optimistic than in previous quarters, although it is still generally positive, according to the results of IPC’s fourth-quarter 2019 Pulse of the Electronics Industry survey.
Teradyne delivers J750 semiconductor test system to Ardentec Teradyne has hit a milestone with the 6,000th shipment of the J750 family of semiconductor testers.
Season Group names new SvP for global business development Season Group has appointed Stephen Tsao as the company's new Senior Vice President, Global Business Development.
Zestron appoints new sales director Europe Mr. Adam Meinert recently joined ZESTRON as the Sales Director of Europe.
Sypris Electronics tapped for NASA project Sypris Electronics LLC has been awarded a contract from Collins Aerospace in association with NASA’s Orion Spacecraft project.
NexLogic eyes implantable med-electronics NexLogic Technologies Inc. has announced its entry into assembly and manufacturing of implantable medical devices, a rapidly growing segment in the medical electronics market.
International Wire Group buys Owl Wire and Cable International Wire Group (IWG) has acquired New York-based Owl Wire and Cable from Marmon Holdings Inc.
ZF to set up third research and development centre in China ZF Friedrichshafen AG is establishing a third Chinese R&D centre in Guangzhou southern China. Representatives of ZF and the local authorities have signed an agreement and ZF plans to invest approximately EUR 90 million in the new development center.
Semiconductor market suffers another plunge in Q3 With revenue plunging by a gut-wrenching 14.7% in the third quarter, the global semiconductor market appears destined for a year of double-digit decline, despite some signs of growth in the critical memory segment, says IHS Markit.
Ericsson to pay $1B to resolve US corruption investigations Swedish telecom company Ericsson has reached a resolution on U.S. FCPA investigations by the the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Bel acquires CUI Inc. power assets Bel Fuse Inc. has closed on its previously-announced deal with CUI Global for the majority of the power business of its subsidiary, CUI Inc.
Accel Robotics more than quadruples initial funding San Diego-based start-up Accel Robotics has announced a USD 30 million Series A funding round led by SoftBank Group Co.
General Motors, LG Chem partner in Ohio General Motors and LG Chem have announced plans to form a joint, equally-owned company to mass-produce electric vehicle battery cells.Load more news