K&S and Assembléon: A Perfect Marriage of Technology and Services


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Las Marias: Can you tell us some of the new product developments that are in the pipeline for the company?

de Groot: For us, it’s coming back to the integration, which we are leveraging on. K&S is very strong from a process point of view. We’re still learning what that means. What process can we add to our machines? That’s really the phase where we’re at and then we will make that work for customers. That’s what very much we’re focusing on.

Obviously, if you look at the machines, they are generic. We look at new capabilities, such as rate of feeding, improvements of security; that’s in general the direction that we are moving towards to align with the market requirement.

Las Marias: What markets are driving the growth in sales for the company?

de Groot: In Asia, it’s predominantly advanced packaging driven by smartphones and tablets. In Europe and the U.S., we’re seeing automotive to a large extent as well as industrial markets. I think if you look at the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, and as I mentioned before, big data, a lot of that comes down to industrial applications. That is where we see a lot of growth.

Within that segment of industrial, there are things like security, medical, and LEDs, which is a sector that is growing. That’s really where we see clear differentiation between Europe, U.S. and Asia.

Las Marias: From a regional perspective, which regions are fuelling growth for the company from a revenue and sales perspective?

de Groot: It’s pretty much spread over the three regions. Asia is where you have the larger projects, but we have the larger install base in Europe and the U.S.

Las Marias: What about China? Right now, they are having some weakness in the economy.

Chan Pin Chong: I think the market is going through a transition now. I would say that the demand for tablets and smartphones will continue to grow, but the growth rate will not be as fast as compared to the last five years. There is still demand in the market, whether it’s in the Advanced Packaging Mass Reflow (AP-MR) area or in wire bond, I would think that there is potential growth. It’s probably a  moderate growth versus a large growth.

The common market for AP-MR and wedge bonder is the automotive and power management market. That should have a potential for growth because there is a lot of push from governments and provinces on energy efficiencies, whether it’s building, power and/or solar management. In areas of power, there is potential growth because of the push factor from different countries, striving for increased energy efficiency.

Focusing back on China, I think the area of IC market for phones and tablets will still see growth. However the growth rate will be slower.  It will not be phenomenal, unlike the past 5–10 years. There are also more demands for new trains and efforts into energy efficiency. Buildings are greener now. They want to keep pollution under control. With that, there are potential demands from infrastructures and power management. I think those areas will fit in different portfolios, whether it’s in an AP-MR, wire bonding or wedge bonding.

There will still be some growth that will be focused on application-specific areas. And those areas are a more sustainable. It has less cyclicality in terms of driving infrastructures and potential opportunities. China will probably be the largest contributor towards that as a single country, a single region because there is still a lot of government push from Chinese government to reduce pollution and be greener, whether it’s the cars or buildings or industrial.

Las Marias: Can you tell us about what you see in the future for your industry and your company?

Chong: That’s like looking at a crystal ball and predicting what’s going to happen in the next two years. Kulicke & Soffa has more than 60 years of history evolving wire bonding technology and now with the integration of Assembléon, we are   expanding our space into the advanced interconnect technology.   We believe there are growths in the electronics sector.  

Some areas will be higher growth, some areas will be lower growth and some areas will probably be maintained at a sustainable rate. I don’t think there will be any significant transition. Like I said, putting two wires together has gone on for more than 60 years, but it’s just making it faster, better with lower cost-of-ownership that will continue to evolve. Whether it is the placements or in the bonding, we will continue to grow as long as consumers still have the demand for more electronics in their hands, in their homes, and in their cars. That’s the reason why I think the future of K&S will continue to be towards that same growth of general electronics.

Las Marias: Is there anything that we haven’t talk about that you think we should be talking about?

Chong: I would say that as electronics and semiconductors industry will continue to mature and I think every company are continuously looking out for opportunities to expand and grow. We have expanded our product and service portfolio with the family of Assembléon joining K&S. We will continue to be looking out for other areas of growth.

Another simple example of traditional wire bonding that we have expanded in is batteries. There has been a lot of battery bonding in the last two years. That’s also an opportunity of diversification for these electronics. This is just an example. It’s too early to know about the development or new businesses, but K&S will be looking at areas of growth and we will continue to find areas where we can expand our space. Our vision is to be the leader in advanced interconnects, and we will continue to find ways to provide more solutions for our customers.

Today, if somebody walks into this booth looking for a solution, with the series of machines that we have here, it’s basically building the whole interconnect story. We’re working towards being the solution provider versus just a box or machine that goes fast, quick or accurate. We want to be able to leverage on the expertise that we have to provide our customers end-to-end solutions. We will continue to expand and look for opportunities to increase that breadth.

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