© eolane Group Electronics Production | December 13, 2021
Evertiq’s industry pulse report – éolane Group
Henri Juin, Chairman of the éolane Group, says that the rebound is near and the signs of recovery are already visible in the order book. Now it’s just a matter of organising everything so that the order increases can be met in the coming years.
In this article series, Evertiq has reached out to a number of European EMS providers to see how the challenges from the last two years have affected everyday operations. This time we will hear from Henri Juin, Chairman of the éolane Group. Given the fact that we have battled the pandemic for close to two years now, what lessons have been learned and what changes have been made in your company? “The main change is how communication is organized among our various sites, which increasingly use digital contact and remote meetings rather than physical travel. In total, this saved us almost one million euros in 2020,” says Henri Juin to Evertiq and continues. “Of course, well before this pandemic, we were equipped with videoconferencing tools, but this crisis has generated an increased need for internal communication. Consequently, we have set up weekly meetings in groups of 250 at the international level to keep employees informed of decisions made in the company. Indeed, as an essential business, we had to maintain a strong level of production in areas such as medicine, energy, civil security etc. which are necessary for the proper functioning of countries. International technical groups in the areas of procurement, planning, R&D, IT, commerce and HR were created on this occasion and have contributed a great deal to the group, and continue to do so today.” As soon as we entered 2021, it became very clear that the pandemic isn’t the only problem weighing down on the industry, the shortage of components have greatly affected our industry and adjacent ones, how is your company working to overcome the issues of tight supply? “Like everyone else, we are faced with this shortage of components. We specialize in the design of advanced printed circuit boards and have a supply chain of more than 100 people based in Asia and Europe, enabling us to use the global market. But the key was to strengthen our partnership with our clients in terms of transparency and cooperation. They give us a longer-term view of their needs, allowing us to better anticipate them with our suppliers. We alert our customers with full transparency to our difficulties and existing market opportunities. Finally, we have provided our internal task force with a tool to connect to more than 300 hubs of international stocks.” As a European manufacturer, what is your opinion on the fact that the European electronics industry is still very much dependent on Asia in terms of semiconductor supplies? “This crisis in components, raw materials, logistics, etc. is making politicians aware of the need to relocate a large part of industrial production in order to be less dependent on Asia, particularly on all these points. After the deindustrialization of Europe, we are encouraging the public authorities to reindustrialize and declaring to them our willingness to accompany them in this movement.” In your opinion, has the pandemic highlighted the need for narrower and shorter supply chains? “Certainly; and it is not just the pandemic that has highlighted this need. As part of our “Alizés” (Trade winds) Strategic Plan, we have reorganized our sites to cover 5 regions. Accordingly, French territory has been divided into western, central and eastern regions and we are covering the needs of Central and Eastern Europe with our plant in Tallinn, Estonia and Asia with those in China. Our intention is to respond to the need for proximity expressed by our customers and also to reduce our carbon footprint, which is of great concern to them, too.” The United States, in particular, is looking to jump-start the development of new chip factories throughout the country in order to reduce its dependency on China. Should Europe as a collective also take a similar approach? “I really hope they will. For our part, we are continuing to invest in our production assets in this direction. Moreover, in France, we are being supported by the government which, within the framework of France Relance, is helping us with these investments. Recently, our factory in Tallinn was visited by Franck Riester, the Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness. Things seem to be moving in the right direction.” What is the general feeling now that we are drawing close to the end of 2021 and approaching 2022? “The rebound is near and the signs of recovery are already visible on our order book. We are already putting our production assets in place so that we can absorb order increases in 2022 and 2023 in the hope of the end of the health crises and component shortages.”