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Primed for growth

Over the past few years ams has changed radically having significantly reduced its historically broad portfolio of product to now specialise in the design and manufacture of advanced sensors solutions that can be found at the heart of many different products and technologies, from smartphones and mobile devices to smart homes and buildings, industrial automation, medical technology and connected vehicles.

Speaking last month at a press event held at the company’s head office in Graz, Austria the company’s CEO Alexander Everke said that ams had been engaged in a broad number of fields.

“Major changes to the portfolio were required and since 2015 we have fundamentally changed direction and are now focused purely on delivering sensors across a number of key vertical markets.

“With sensors now touching every aspect of the digital world that is transforming all our lives, from the environment to personal health, we are now focused on delivering high performance sensor solutions, sensor ICs, interfaces and related software.

“We’re targeting consumer and communications (C&C) and the automotive, industrial and medical (AIM) segments,” he explained. “Based on our revenues in the first half of 2017 those separate areas are pretty evenly split 50:50, in future we want to shift the emphasis towards the consumer space.”

According to Everke the company is looking to differentiate its offering in terms of power, integration and sensitivity, “We’re looking to grow the business by creating solutions that our competitors wont be able to deliver.

“To that end we have 1000 engineers located around the world in the US, Europe and the Far East across 21 design and three manufacturing locations and are currently supporting more than 8000 customers globally.”

Growth is key to the company’s strategy going forward and its focus on sensor technology appears to be paying dividends with sales racing ahead by 20-30 percent quarter on quarter.

“We’re looking at growing the business at an annual rate of over 40 percent from 2016-19,” says Everke.

“We have a balanced portfolio and have the technologies capable of addressing the megatrends that you can see around us every day.

“Sensors is a broad field, so we decided to focus the company’s portfolio on what we call the four pillars which are optical, imaging, environmental and audio sensors and we have been able to take a strong position in all of them.

The portfolio, according to Everke, addresses the fastest growing segments in the semiconductor industry.

“The growth engine is starting to really kick in,” he says. “The segments we are targeting are ones in which margins are significantly more attractive and where it is still possible to improve performance by using technology and innovation.

“In other sensor areas innovation is already at the edge,” he argues.

According to Everke, “Looking to the future we can use technology to better differentiate our products and crucially none of our competitors have the four pillars we have. In four to five years’ time we will be able to combine those technologies – audio with environmental, optical and imaging, and those companies that are unable to do likewise will not be able to compete.”

Everke sees miniaturisation and integration as key differentiators in this market, “as will software, in which we as a company are also investing in heavily.”

He continues, “We see the future integration of sensor solutions as key; few, if any of our competitors are able to offer the ‘four pillars’ we do.”

According to Everke the majority of the company’s future investment will be focused on these technologies.

“It’s a simple strategy,” he believes.

ams looks to deal directly with its larger customers and relies on its distribution channels to support smaller customers.

Acquisitions are playing an important part in the company’s strategy.

“It’s important to have the right people in place and to be able to deliver a complete solution,” Everke believes.

Over the past two years ams has made a series of acquisitions to support its sensor focused growth strategy.

“This year we bought Heptagon, a high end optical packaging specialist and Princeton Optronics to enhance our 3D sensing, AR/VR and automotive applications.”

Everke made it clear that unlike many competitors any acquisition the company makes would be driven by the company’s technology requirements.

“We are looking solely for technology that will help us to further differentiate. If it helps in that, we’ll look to acquire it.

“We need to own those technologies if we are to be serious about delivering a complete solution,” he contends.

“Take 3D sensing, for example. Each new generation of product will become more complex and we need to be able to improve and optimise the solutions we are looking to deliver.

“We believe it’s important that we have that capability in house.”

Neil Tyler

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