Orbotech’s Strategic Decision for End-to-End Partnership Benefits Everyone


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Barry Matties met with Sharon Cohen, president of Orbotech West, at productronica 2017 to discuss what’s new at Orbotech, specifically their shift to be more customer-centric and to provide regional coverage across the globe. He also discusses the current trends in the marketplace and Industry 4.0.

Barry Matties: Sharon, can you start by telling us a little bit about the show?

Sharon Cohen: First of all, this show has been very successful for us. We expected it to be busy, but it completely exceeded our expectations. We started off with a thank-you dinner for close to 100 of our long term customers and partners. This set the tone for the rest of the show which was both busy and very productive, with more than a hundred meetings each day.

Matties: Were those all pre-arranged meetings, or was a lot of this spontaneous, as well?

Cohen: About 50% of the meetings were pre-arranged, so we expected a busy show. But it ended up being much busier than we expected. It was successful and we got a lot of feedback from our customers and fielded a lot of questions. Our customers shared their plans for moving forward, and of course, we had the opportunity to share our plans as well. So all in all, it was a very productive show.

Matties: What kind of concerns or questions are your customers coming to you with at this time?

Cohen: There’s a lot of focus on increasing productivity and throughput as the world of PCB manufacturing becomes more and more competitive. Our customers want to know how can they improve their production quality and how can they make sure that they remain competitive, not just for the short term but also for the long term. They also want our opinion on the manufacturing trends in China and Asia and how those trends may impact the European and the U.S. market.

Matties: And when they ask about the trends, what sort of response are you giving them?

Cohen: So first of all, in Asia we see a clear move towards mSAP, the modified semi-additive process, with finer lines and additional layers. We see increased HDI participation in other segments as well, such as automotive and more. And we also see those trends coming here in the future. Right now, the Western market is mainly focused on QTAs and prototypes, and they are looking for solutions to improve the turnaround time.

Matties: Here in Europe, I hear reports that the economy is doing quite well. The industry is robust at the moment. I'm guessing that's the same sort of feeling you have as well?

Cohen: Absolutely. Actually, we had a conversation here about an hour ago with a couple of suppliers who also admitted that it was a better year for them than they expected. I can see from our angle, we're working with most of the PCB manufacturers here in Europe. We see a lot of busy shops, a lot of customers trying to increase their capacity. It's a great opportunity for them to explore new technologies, and a great opportunity for us to assist.

3Orbotech_Prod.jpgMatties: Part of the understanding is that Orbotech is becoming more customer-focused. Tell me about that. What is the strategy now with your customers?

Cohen: True. So first of all, we changed our structure not just to become more customer-friendly, but also to become the best partners we can possibly be to our customers. The process started about a year and a half ago, when we began the restructuring. We shifted to a regional structure to help us create and maintain long-term relationships with our customers and to support their different needs—not just for specific purposes like post-sales or problem solving, but actually so that we could listen better to our customers’ needs and build strong relationships that would enable us to anticipate more and plan together. That was the first phase.

The next stage was the monitoring center. We created capabilities that we could remotely monitor, and that could provide us with actionable intelligence which we use to improve our customers’ experience. I’ll give you an example. We have the ability to know ahead of time if a particular machine is going to need maintenance or a part replaced. We can act on that intelligence and schedule the repair before an error occurs and can even prevent it from happening. These actions provide more flexibility to our customers, since the downtime can be scheduled at their convenience, at a time that will cause the least disruption possible. This is something that we're really proud of, and we're putting a lot of effort into this.

Matties: Orbotech has such insight and a wealth of information, because you're in a lot of different aspects, from imaging and beyond. Your data must just give you such an incredible advantage in product development and customer service. How do you use that data?

Cohen: It ties back in to the technology. Our goal is to increase the capacity and offer better support. We changed the organizational structure, we created the monitoring center, and we're actively supporting the yield of our customers. Last year we introduced the Precise™ 800, our automated optical shaping solution or AOS as we call it. The Precise leverages two incredibly innovative technologies—3D Shaping (3DS) Technology™ and Closed Loop Shaping Technology™—that allow for copper deposition as well as copper ablation, so we can increase the yield and the throughput of our customers. The data allows for partnering on the process, maintaining, and monitoring the performance, and helping at the tail end of the production to make sure that our customers can deliver what they need to their customers.

Matties: You introduced the Precise about a year or so ago. How many installs do you have, and how's that working out?

Cohen: I'm not able to share exact numbers of installation base, but I can say that we're very proud, and very successful.

Matties: But you have it out in the field, and it's being used?

Cohen: Absolutely. We have tens of machines already working in Europe, in the U.S. and, of course, in Asia, where the biggest install base is so far.

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