The printed circuit board manufacturer KSG has mastered the past 18 months with entrepreneurial skill and customer service. The business situation is pleasing and the team has grown to meet the challenges.
“We learned three things in the Corona crisis,” says CEO Margret Gleiniger. “Firstly, that we can change ad hoc and that changes are possible that were previously unthinkable. Secondly, that it was right to remain loyal to our European suppliers of basic materials. And thirdly, that our course is the right one,” the KSG boss lists.
KSG focuses on high-end printed circuit board manufacturing in Europe and a balanced industry mix of automotive electronics, industrial electronics and automation technology, and medical technology. The focus is on printed circuit boards for high-frequency applications and power electronics as well as HDI/SBU printed circuit boards (high density interconnection/sequential built up). KSG is above the European average in this technology for multilayers with high wiring and packing density.
The protection and health of employees has always had the highest priority. Employees outside of manufacturing immediately embraced digital working and quickly reorganized. At the same time, everything has been done to ensure that the two production sites in Germany and Austria are available, safe and productive. This was possible because the Group systematically converted and expanded its two printed circuit board plants and increased production capacity in Gars/Lower Austria. With lean teams, process orientation in the plant organization, flow principles and 5S, the lead time for series products was reduced by 20% and the material flow improved.
The ability to deliver was also possible because the bottlenecks in basic materials were hardly noticeable. “We have always remained loyal to our European suppliers of basic materials. This has secured our material supply and we have been able to deliver,” reports the KSG boss.
Printed circuit board buyers are also currently reflecting on their Europeans. “In order to handle the significant increase in demand, we have expanded shift systems and are doing what is possible to accept and bring in orders at short notice,” emphasizes the management. Only, in the meantime the production and employees are working at the limit and the delivery times have skyrocketed.
By way of background: year after year, the share of European production has shrunk to just 2.5% of PCB production worldwide. This dangerous imbalance is now taking its revenge.
Technical support via digital communication channels
No new (customer) order without a customer audit, the personal on-site acceptance of the manufacturing processes. Covid19 has forced a digital customer audit, which was previously unthinkable. In the meantime, transmission via webcam has become almost routine at KSG and “we are finding that the digital customer audit works excellently and saves an enormous amount of time,” comments Sales Manager Christof Sofsky.
Because face-to-face meetings at the customer’s premises were not possible, customer discussions and technical support were intensified via digital communication channels. Years ago, KSG was one of the first companies in the industry to offer webinars, teaching hardware developers, PCB designers, purchasers and QA managers about the technical and economic aspects of PCB production.
“We have added new topics to this customer service in Lockdown. And we now offer the webinars in two languages,” says Christof Sofsky. A brand new project is the PCB blog. From application examples and tips for designers to webinars, technical terms and news from the company and the industry, KSG shares valuable expertise with the community in this web blog in German and English.
“The crisis has confirmed that we have set the right course in recent years. We have mastered the process reliability and dependability demanded by the automotive industry. At the same time, we can produce the technical solutions that future industrial applications will demand – keyword 5G”, Margret Gleiniger sums up. One indicator is KSG’s order intake, which is above average for the industry. Another indication is that KSG is already involved in many new customer projects at the development stage and contributes its knowledge and manufacturing experience to the projects as a co-engineering partner.