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At the recent SMT Hybrid Packaging show in Nuremberg, Germany, I-Connect007 Technical Editor Pete Starkey visits Super Dry Totech and spends a few minutes with CEO Jos Brehler and Sales Manager Terry Morgan.
Pete Starkey: Jos, it’s great to see you again, and Terry it’s great to meet you. I can see that you are having a very busy show, and I appreciate you sparing time to bring me up to date with the latest in business and technical developments.
Jos, the news of the moment is that you have joined ASYS Group. Could you tell us something of the background to this partnership, what will be the benefits, and how will it affect the future direction of the company?
Jos Brehler: Pete, we have spoken many times in the past and as you know, we started as a very small company in 2004, introducing the Dry Cabinet into Europe, building up our dealer network, and growing the business in the US with the help of Rich Heimsch and yourselves, supplying dry cabinets and dry rooms as we saw the growth in MSL components.
Super Dry Totech CEO Jos Brehler
Starkey: Yes, I’ve watched with great interest as your product series has developed, talking to your guys initially about the Dry Cabinet, and now seeing major dry-room parts management systems.
Brehler: As I mentioned, we were growing and our growth was driven by the increasing use of MSL components. That led to the introduction of the Dry Tower about five years ago. And along with the growth in MSL components, Industry 4.0 is affecting us all. We have to do much more than only selling a cabinet – we are selling a process. And traceability becomes increasingly important: we need to know where the components are. Are they on the floor, are they in the cabinet? Not only components, but also solder paste. We have a cabinet where we can use software to scan the solder paste in and out, so we know its history and its open times.
Let me answer your question about the ASYS Group. Demand for the Dry Tower grew enormously, and we were increasingly getting major contracts with the big companies. It’s good to sell a cabinet, but a project worth between 500,000 and 1.5 million euro, is something totally different.
We are serving customers across the spectrum from EMS to large OEMs. Projects can be complex. We have to be flexible but also respond quickly with solutions, so we needed to grow and add more software engineers and technical staff to our team. It is critical that we grow our capability as we are now considered a strategic partner with some very large users.
And if we sell a product like the Dry Tower, we also have to prove to customers that we will still be here for a guaranteed 10-20 years. So we were looking for a partner to take part of our shares in the company. We had a very good conversation with ASYS Group, who saw an opportunity because of Industry 4.0, and immediately wanted to become an investor in our company. ASYS is heavily involved in automation and automatic systems, and saw the potential of not only selling the whole production line, but also getting involved in material logistics. Material logistics is often overlooked – people talk about production lines, updating them, making them faster. But if you see how long it will take to bring a component reel, and importantly the right reel, to the right place, then you can win with lean thinking and achieve so much more. We have some staggering examples of ROI, and just how quickly our Dry Tower solution can pay back in a short period of time.
Starkey: Your system is such a natural fit as an integrated part of the process line. Rather than providing a stand-alone facility for storing components, you're actually managing those component logistics, but under very close environmental control.
Brehler: Of course, and we can also supply the Dry Tower without environmental control for managing the logistics of non-moisture-sensitive components. So we can offer a total component logistics solution.
Starkey: What will come next? What do you have in development? Where do you see new opportunities in this marketplace?
Brehler: We want to be a total solution for components. If you look at the way the industry is moving, there will be a growing need for long-term storage, and that's something we are working on now. We see the Internet of Things growing enormously in the coming years and products will change every two years or less, but manufacturers must guarantee them for five, maybe ten, years. Electronic components have shorter and shorter production life spans, so Last Time Buys are becoming more common. If the OEM or EMS is dependent on the soon-to-be-obsolete electronic component then he needs to prepare for its obsolescence by buying-in stocks when he gets the Last-Time-Buy notification.
Starkey: And if he can keep those stocks under the right conditions, the life-time of those components is infinite, rather than being limited by shelf-life.
Brehler: Yes, nowadays a lot of EMS companies have a big problem storing all those components. We can offer several options: we can offer a dry cabinet with cooling as well as drying, and also with pure air to avoid diffusion effects.
And then I come to a new subject. We are thinking also of being a provider of storing components for the industry. Not only selling cabinets to the industry but also offering the service possibility to dry components for companies to sell to their customers. So we are looking further up the food chain. Now we are supplying the EMS companies. If we go a step higher, we come to the distributors. The idea is to work with the major distributors, who have a huge assortment of product groups, one of which is MSL components that they have to ship in moisture-barrier bags but also dried. What we want to offer is that they bring the MSL components to us, we will store them in a dry tower, and we will ship them to their customer.