Recently Essemtec introduced “Puma”, the newest assembly system in the series; with the first production slot having been sold. Since last summer one of these cutting edge multifunctional systems has been installed in the medium-sized Swiss EMS company Synetronics AG under beta field testing. Because of the excellent results they purchased this machine last December.
Heidi Leibundgut, a member of Synetronics AG management team, explains in an interview how the company sustains its position in the difficult EMS market environment, and reports on the experiences they have had with the “Puma” platform from Essemtec.
Essemtec: The EMS environment in Western Europe, and especially in Switzerland, still proves to be very difficult. Profits have dropped and many EMS companies have emigrated to Eastern Europe. Synetronics will celebrate its 40th anniversary in two years’ time; what is its recipe for success?
Synetronics:Synetronics was founded under the name Eskofot AG in 1979. It’s one of the oldest assembly enterprises of all and, because of this, has valuable long-term experience. We are flexible, have high-quality products that are ready for delivery within the shortest possible time, and we continuously adapt to new circumstances. We have large in depth knowhow, which has been built up over a log time. For example, we archive all documents, such as layouts, material lists, etc. Many customers lose these documents over time, but they have the possibility to order them from us; hardly any another competitor offers this service.
In 1989, the administrative board decided to start with automatic assembly and in 1990 the company got its first mounting machine. This was a decision that has helped us to survive through until today - even against the inland competition. It’s a fact that Swiss assemblers, compared to other countries, fall behind when it comes to manual mounting because of the high salaries. On the contrary, automated assembly is equally expensive all over the world and that helps us to stay competitive against Asian and European contenders.
Essemtec: What does customer loyalty mean, and how do you keep it compared to your competitors?
Synetronics: We are close to our customers, speak the same language and are within easy reach. The customers who come to us are most lightly to need high precision and long lasting controllers. As always the price is indeed an important factor, but, at best in these cases takes secondary position. Nowadays, short delivery terms are playing an increasingly important role. As a small company, we count on intensive personal customer contact. Our aim is to make the customer feel comfortable at and with Synetronic. This ensures a long-term successful customer relationship and results in a “win-win” situation.
Since 2018 we have been ISO 13485 certificated (medical technology). We also have ISO 13485 level one. We will continue meet these demanding requirements and to develop ourselves.
Essemtec: How do you confront dropping profits? Where can you compensate?
Synetronics: With investments in the machinery of course! The first mounting machines were sorted out long ago; in 2011 we decided for Essemtec because their machines fitted perfectly into our production. We preferred a Swiss company because it’s within easy reach and speaks the same language. As a beta tester for Essemtec we have gained vast knowhow in the field of automated assembly. Our operators know the Essemtec line (Paraquda, Tucano, Puma) inside out. That’s why our production times are considerably reduced, and so correspondingly we can also lower our prices. Therefore, thanks to the newest technologies, we have remained competitive with fully automatic mounted boards, even against China. We also generate a good margin too.
Essemtec: Synetronic has had prototype machines from Essemtec in the field for many years now. Why did you agree to examine and challenge the midrange solution “Puma” in a beta test?
Synetronics: “Puma” is much faster than our first assembly system from Essemtec. Nevertheless, it has all functions we need for the prototype manufacturing. Again, it’s all about time saving due to cost pressure.
Picture 1: Mr. Misteli, Synetronics production, with „Puma“, Source Synetronics
Essemtec: What’s the conclusion after two months testing in both a highly flexible environment and also in the high-performance production?
Synetronics: It has been important for us to find out if a machine qualified for the prototype range is also able to provide a high mounting performance, so that we can push forward in the mid-range sector whilst maintaining consistent quality and productivity of course. We can confirm that this goal has been reached with “Puma”. In addition, we are sold on the concept “expandable in any direction” – to start small with the machine and, over the years, to grow with the implementation of options, heads and processes is real investment protection.
Essemtec: What are your expectations of your system provider in the future?
Synetronics: To be able to mount the tiniest components is probably the next big challenge. The assembly machines must be durable and not susceptible to failure. They must grow with the customer’s requirements. The system provider must be close to the customer and react, in best case, immediately. With Essemtec’s new strategical alignment we are convinced we have a strong system provider and the Puma fulfils all needed requirements. This is the reason that we decided to buy the system after the successful beta test.