A Conversation with Gaby Waisman, Orbotech, Ltd.


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GW: I think we worked on our LDIs for about 10 years before it actually started to sell and become a widely adopted machine. That’s one of the biggest challenges of being an innovator in our industry. You really need a lot of patience and breadth to continually invest in a product that you don't really know in advance whether it will succeed or not and whether there will be a demand for it. The AOR has been there for quite some time, and this is due to the changing generations of technology and the demands from our customers which result in the fact that you have a drop in yield. Let’s say that you have a production, everything is good your yield is okay, and then your customers all the sudden demand something better. Your yield is bound to drop. Then gradually you improve your processes until it stabilizes and grows again. Well what happened during this period of time? This machine is basically ensuring that you continue to provide higher yield and solutions not only in day-to-day operations but also to cover those areas in which you have to increase the yield very fast, like in order to provide the commitment that you have to your customers and your processes basically don't support it. So many of our customers realize that it's not just that the industry is moving to let's say below 40 microns, which is becoming impossible for manual repair, but also that they must somehow overcome this and very quickly increase yield. Today I can tell you that we have customers that bought dozens of those machines as a set, AOI and AOR, working together in conjunction and providing this low yield improvement as well as providing a higher productivity in times that you really need it, and it can be very fast.

007: We're seeing the auto industry become a real driving factor in their demands with fabricators and it probably fits into exactly what you're talking about. They came in and all of a sudden everything changed.

GW: Exactly, the automotive industry is seeing tremendous changes with all those collision prevention radars and sophisticated electronics that are basically driving the consumers with whatever other sensors are on there. It’s forcing our customers to require parts which they haven't seen on their radar in many years.

007: Your focus is here in China, and how long have you been here?

GW: A year and a half.

007: What's your impression so far?

GW: You know I came in prepared to see something different. You compare China to the rest of the world and are aware of the fact that it's different, but I really didn’t expect this level of maturity, business-wise, with the professionalism and dynamic decision-making processes that to me are very impressive. Customers are very focused on the vision and know exactly where they want to be in a few years and what needs to be done in order to get there, how to best serve their customers and what they need them to change in order to fulfill this vision of theirs. They are very dynamic, very to the point and it's impressive.

007: And really in the last five years there's been this accelerated maturity in all aspects: financially, socially, and the rise in the middle class has changed the landscape incredibly.

GW: Absolutely, China is really incredible. You go out and explore Shenzhen, and I've traveled here over the last 10-12 years and you cannot even recognize the city. I think this movement and progress is characterizing our industry as well. Just look at the smartphone landscape—I definitely can't compare it to 10 years ago with Nokias, etc., but I also cannot even compare it to five years ago either! We’ve seen Apple and Samsung dominating the market and now others are gaining a lot of momentum such as the eco system, which is quickly changing. Obviously we need to follow that landscape and verify that we can also understand where our industry is going. As I mentioned before, the R&D cycle is quite long, and that means both time and money consuming. We invest a lot in R&D and would like to verify that this answers a real need. We need to have a very deep understanding of where this industry is going and basically use our R&D in order to provide solutions that answer needs and requirements that could either be coming from our customers or our understanding of where the industry is heading. We constantly drive our teams, both in corporate as well as in the field, to verify that they're on top of what they see as part of the evolution and requirements of where the industry will go to.

007: Printed electronics is an obvious future step for the industry, how do you see Orbotech fitting into that?

GW: It's definitely something that we've looked into very deeply. It's an amazing market whenever it does actually happen, but I think we have some time.

007: We have time but I think that period is accelerating.

GW: Absolutely, I think first we will see wearable devices—this is a trend that's already happening and I think will continue gaining momentum.

007: Right, the proof of concept is working right now.

GW: Exactly, we see the drive in wearables and that should lead to printed electronics, because the type of technology that will be able to serve that market is very different than what we have today. We're working very hard to define the core technologies that will need to exist in order for us to implement them within products that will eventually lead to solutions in the marketplace.

007: You've been president here in Asia for a year and a half, have you met the goals that you set coming in and achieved what you thought you would achieve in that time?

GW: Wow, that's a tough one (Laughs). I would say the answer is yes. I think that we have been very aggressive in the goals that we have been setting for ourselves, but overall I believe that we did achieve them. We still have a lot of work to do however. It’s a constantly changing environment and organization, a very dynamic one, but there's one thing that I'm really proud of and that is our team. We have been successful driving a very unique culture, one that is able to bring excellence and drive customer satisfaction. For me, customer satisfaction is probably the most important thing. This market is all about the ability to provide consistent and sustainable customer satisfaction and it is the type of market that we operate in. The number one important thing for me has been to achieve this satisfaction level and I think our team has been able to do that in the last year and half I've been there. My predecessors have done a tremendous job in order to build upon the foundations of such an organization and I obviously have the challenge to continue and serve the future as well, but we really do have a good team that I'm very proud of.

007: How many people do you have here in Asia?

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