VDMA Productronics: Pushing Forward the German Electronics Manufacturing Industry

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Verband Deutscher Maschinen und Anlagenbau/German Engneering Federation (VDMA) is one of the key association service providers in Europe, and offers the largest engineering industry network in the region. Founded in 1892, it represents today more than 3,100 companies in the engineering industry, many of which are small- and medium-sized enterprises.

VDMA Electronics, Micro and Nano Technologies is one of the 40 Sector Associations within VDMA. Its sector group Productronics, which covers the whole semiconductor front and backend processes, packaging, all the way to PCB manufacturing and assembly, has about 70 member companies. I recently spoke with Dr. Eric Maiser, managing director of Productronics, about the group, its activities, member services, and the electronics manufacturing industry.

Stephen Las Marias: Dr. Maiser, let’s start by describing VDMA Productronic’s basic mission and what your organization is all about.

Dr. Eric Maiser: The basic mission of the association is of course to help the members. How do we do that? Basically through three pillars, if you will. Of course, industry associations are lobby groups, so we have discussions with the industry, find out their needs, and communicate that to politics and the public. This is what you expect from an association, and we do that. That's also related to research, politics, and those kinds of things. Where the other pillars come in, which is what the members pay us for, is with the services and networking capabilities we provide. We bring together machine makers along the whole process chain and that’s a value to them. Understand that the German machine makers are usually small- to medium-sized enterprises. It's not companies such as Siemens and Bosch overall. They usually don’t have big legal, foreign trade, or tax departments. This is a layer we provide.

For VDMA Productronics, the specialty is technology oriented. Our mission is to help them with finding the next trend in electronics manufacturing—so road mapping—and how to provide machines with the latest technology but at a reasonable cost. Things known in the semiconductor industry, for example, are not very well known in the SMT sector. So we also do something like knowledge transfer. It’s also bringing the machine makers together with their customers. We hold matchmaking events and those kinds of things. Our mission includes the services, networking, and of course, lobbying.

Las Marias: Can you give us a snapshot of your membership statistics?

Maiser: In VDMA as a whole, we have more than 3,000 members. That’s throughout the whole machinery industry in Germany—ranging from wood machines to mining machines to robots. We have 40 of these sector associations within VDMA, and Productronics is just one of them. We have everything from the whole semiconductor front- and backend processes, packaging, and then going forward with the PCB side and the assembly side. It’s really the whole process chain for electronics.

We do that because the German machine makers in that sector have a multitude of machines for this whole process chain. What also rises from this is the ability to really provide information on the technology developments happening in the semiconductor industry, which might be important for the SMT industry, and vice versa. As you know, these things merge. Previously, you had the chips and you had the PCB on the other side. You put the one on top of the other and that was it. Now, we have all these embedding of chips into the PCB or with the chips becoming smaller. We as VDMA Productronics have all the players along the process chain there, and it’s a value for them to talk to each other.

It's a little bit unusual for VDMA because usually in federation, we have the sector associations along one machine type, like robots for example. It doesn't matter if the robot is working on a car or if it’s working on, let's say, a plastic or rubber manufacturer. Here we have something like a cross section through machine types. We start with ingot manufacturing for silicon. This is basically heating, slicing the wafers, and then all the processes through soldering and everything you have in the process chain—all types of different machines. Of course, we have competitors there, but they don't cover all machinery types with a lot of different customer areas. That makes us a little different within VDMA, too.

Las Marias: At VDMA Productronic, do you have any events or conferences? Do you have webinars or technical sessions for your members?

Maiser: We have workshops on road mapping, on total cost of ownership, and on line integration, for example. Then we have two yearly events. The workshops are really focused on very specific topics, and the yearly events provide an overview for what’s going on in the association and what’s going on in the industry. Usually, we have one event at a member site or a customer site. It’s boring if you go to Frankfurt and just see our offices. So we go outside and really see what the customers or the members are doing. The second event in the year is usually with institutes, research organizations, so that we can learn what the academia is really doing and what the next possibility for electronics coming along is.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of SMT Magazine.


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