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IMI banks on smart sensors, managed growth

Posted: 15 Apr 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart sensors? MEMS? EMS? automotive? medical?

Integrated Micro-Electronics Inc. (IMI), provider of electronics manufacturing services (EMS) and power IC assembly and test services, is very weak in the consumer side of the semiconductor supply chain but strong in the industrial sector, CEO and President Arthur Tan said during the company's annual stockholders' meeting held April 12 in Makati City.

When asked by EE Times Asia how he views larger EMS competitors like Foxconn, Tan said each company has its own niche. "They're everywhere in China, they're also having problems, the same problems that I'm having. But Foxconn is now realising that they are heavily into the tablet PC and other consumer devices and now they have to get out," Tan said. Foxconn's growth rate is dependent on the release of the latest iPhone and Galaxy models, he pointed out.

IMI CEO Arthur Tan

Arthur Tan, CEO: "[On Foxconn] They're everywhere in China, they're also having problems, the same problems that I'm having."

IMI chooses to focus on the industrial sector because it yields long-term profitability compared to the unpredictable consumer market. "The thing that we're building and developing now is going to go into cars in 2015 or 2016 and then each car actually runs for about a five- to seven- year programme," Tan stated. This cycle enables IMI to plan and execute more projects whereas with gadgets like smartphones, there is a short turnaround time, Tan explained further. The company's Design & Development (D&D) group in Europe launched a motor drive platform for automotive applications. Its D&D in the Philippines developed a camera platform with thermal management properties while China D&D focused on heating management controllers.

Tan shares the same optimism with the medical applications of IMI products, particularly in the field of home diagnostics, because these portable systems rely heavily on a number of electronics. "You cannot do that [remote monitoring] without engaging telecom, without the sensor, because at the end of the day whatever it is that's going to check you has to touch, see and feel you," Tan emphasised. IMI's engineering group headquartered in Tustin, California develops a variety of smart sensors like MEMS and imagers.

China, with an economy expected to rise by more than eight per cent this year, will remain a focal point in IMI's global expansion. Jerome S. Tan, IMI's chief financial officer, said that the company will prioritise consolidation of its China facilities to maximise manufacturing capacities and drive down labour costs. As for Southeast Asia, IMI remains optimistic but will not aggressively pursue investments in countries like Myanmar and Thailand until their industrial zones are clearly mapped out.

IMI also said it will increase the utilisation of its Guadalajara facility in Mexico and sites in Bulgaria and Czech Republic to "capitalise on the trend of return to regionalisation as original equipment manufacturers in North America and Europe aim to lower their total cost of production."

IMI was established in 2002 in the Philippines and has since expanded its reach with electronics manufacturing and engineering facilities in Asia, North America, and Europe. The company earlier reported $661.8 million in consolidated sales revenues in 2012, up by 15 per cent from $575.5 million in 2011. Its consolidated net income of $5.4 million in 2012, up from $3.3 million in 2011. (See IMI upbeat about EMS industry future.)

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