A Conversation with Laurent Nicolet, Schmid Group


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During the recent HKPCA and IPC Show, held in Shenzhen, China, I had a chance to talk with Laurent Nicolet, VP - PCB Business Unit of Schmid Group . The thing that really caught my eye was the crowd gathered around a piece of automation technology that they were displaying in their booth. Automation is in very big demand here in China. The following was transcribed from an audio interview I conducted in Schmid’s booth with Laurent regarding the technology and the changes he has seen in the China market.

007: So we’re looking at some flexible automation here?

demo-Schmid400.jpg

LN: Yes, these are intralogistic, so it transports the parts from point A to point B. The system is fully intelligent; it can choose the way that you want even if the way is occupied or not. The big advantage of the system is it is fully flexible. If you need to extend or change the track it is very simple and not a lot of hardware is necessary for a change. The interesting things for the electronic industry is that you can have some assembly parts on the shuttle so that during the transport of the parts we can take currents from the rail and make a check of the parts.

007: This would certainly add value to what is normally a non-value added step, moving product from step to the next. So now, it’s not just transporting it’s adding value to the manufacturing process?

LN: Yes, that is when it is helpful and a benefit of the system.

007: Is this a system you guys designed?

LN: We acquired a company in Switzerland called Montratec a few years ago and now we have transferred the production partially in Germany and also in China.

007: The automation in China, there's a big demand for that, yes?

LN: It's a big demand now, especially in the car industry and the medical industry.

007: So what do you see here in the China market?

LN: I think for the next five years automation will be a big boom. Some companies are interested to buy some small machine such as this to assemble just one process and transfer it to the next one with this kind of logistic. 

007: Now is this the only automation that you have to offer or do you have other products?

LN: No we call this intralogistic, just the logistic of the parts on a production, and we have a department in Germany where we make the full automation integration, where we can work on the parts directly and continue the process. We were originally using it more for photovoltaic before but now we have extended it to another type of industry.

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