We are reinforcing our competencies in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics.
We are increasing our growth and our market shares by expanding our innovative product portfolio and our digital services.
We are enlarging our presence in Asia.
We are reducing costs and improving our results through a revised, optimized organizational model, best-cost initiatives and standardization.
We are broadening our capabilities and becoming a high-performance company.
We are committed to collaboration, customer focus, speed, digitalization and sustainability.
We foster talent and
nurture junior staff.
“Boost” growth and efficiency program as springboard to success
In order to achieve its ambitious goals and enhance its effectiveness as an organization, Comet has launched Boost, the Group-wide growth and efficiency program. It is built around the three pillars “Boost growth”, “Boost efficiency” and “Boost culture”. The implementation of the 20 initiatives identified under this umbrella is well underway.
To drive accelerated future growth, Comet is strengthening the product portfolio for the focal markets and emphasizing digital solutions and services based on data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Using digital solutions allows new products and processes to be more rapidly simulated, tested and developed. Process modules and production systems capable of machine learning can prevent interruptions of the manufacturing process and anticipate process fluctuations in time. In this domain, Comet will expand its competencies, augment its existing teams and create new structures for collaboration.
Another important thrust to support the planned growth is the expansion of the company’s presence in Asia, a region where, already, more than 70% of the world’s RF power and x-ray products for the semiconductor industry are deployed and where the market is growing at an unparalleled rate. To better and more quickly fulfil customer needs and facilitate growth through new orders, as well as to increase manufacturing flexibility and efficiency, the Comet Group has opened a subsidiary in Penang, Malaysia. The supply chain is being set up together with a local partner. Soon, in summer 2020, the new site is to start operations for the production of radio frequency (RF) impedance matching networks.
“The divisions have tackled the improvement measures with determination and vigor.”
Heinz Kundert, Chairman of the Board and interim CEO
In line with the company’s focusing drive, Comet is also working to reduce costs and strengthen its organization. An enterprise-wide organizational health check identified the potential for improvement, which the Group is now addressing. The goal is to improve the interplay of the business areas and regions through a revised organizational model and align interfaces, responsibilities and processes to fit the new focus. Given the high participation rate of 81% of employees in the business health check, and in view of the staff’s strong commitment, Comet is confident it can make substantial progress in this area.
Extensive potential also lies in automating further manufacturing facilities, digitalizing processes, standardizing products and adapting the supply chain to the projected growth. The first tangible effects of the adjustment, which will take time to fully implement, are already expected in the second half of 2020.
Boost corporate culture.
Key to the success of the focus strategy and the growth and efficiency initiatives is a customer-centric corporate culture based on collaboration, speed and digitalization. Through the corporate health check conducted worldwide in 2019, Comet pinpointed key areas for improvement. Besides the honing of the organizational model, important priorities are to intensify the fostering of talent, create new opportunities for employees’ further development and more firmly entrench sustainability. The Group is carrying out various initiatives to accomplish this, including dedicated training of senior managers and young talent. The training program was set up in collaboration with IMD, the business school in Lausanne, and is tailored to the specific requirements of the strategy and the Group.
“The first step has been taken. We have aroused strong interest. Next, many more steps are required to enable us to take advantage of our potential as a partner to industry.”
Don Brennan, VP of Global Business Development, X-Ray Modules
“Smaller, more complex and more powerful” is the mantra in the electronics market. In the inspection of components for smartphones, manufacturers are increasingly relying on x-ray methods in order to reliably check the small connections of the high-performance chips to the circuit boards or to examine the chip packages. In this domain, the Xplorer microfocus modules from Comet open up new possibilities. Designed for use right in or at the production line, they operate with high precision. A small, agile and interdisciplinary team is spearheading the division’s entry into this new market. It works unbureaucratically and fast. This was demonstrated in the development of the microfocus modules. The team members were to be young, hungry, and ready to break new ground. “Generalist thinking was a crucial criterion for us when we assembled the team,” says Don Brennan. “Curiosity and the ability to listen to customers were more important than long experience.” Experience is something he brings to the mix himself after twelve years in a wide range of roles in Comet’s x-ray modules business. He also contributes the seniority, an important quality in working with clients. “All this creates trust and helps build real partnerships with our customers.”
In conversations with potential customers, the team met with a very encouraging reception. Its next goal: to enter production in the middle of 2020 with a small series and adapt the products with several OEMS to their specific requirements.
In the semiconductor industry, few things count more than speed – and especially in Asia, the world’s fastest-growing market region. This is perhaps nowhere more palpable than in Penang, Malaysia, the industry’s manufacturing hotspot. “Our customers expect us to be able to react to shifts in demand at very short notice. The new manufacturing site in Penang enables us to do exactly that – rapidly, scalably, flexibly and competitively,” explains the project leader, Stephan Runge. Comet’s Plasma Control Technologies division is going first, putting in place an important stepping stone for the Group’s success by implementing this strategic project, and will thus pave the way for its sister divisions.
What creates the desired flexibility is the collaborative approach taken: Comet leases the very modern space from a well-known local partner. The partner provides the necessary infrastructure, assembles subassemblies and ensures the ability to expand production at the site according to demand. The rapid implementation is the job of an international team of employees from Switzerland, the USA and China. It optimally combines the required areas of specialist expertise as well as proximity to customers and suppliers. “Our work strengthens Comet’s presence in this strategically important region, allows customer requests to be filled even more purposefully and enables even faster times to market. That’s really motivating and spurs us to reach our strategic goals,” says Stephan Runge.
“I have been part of similar projects before. But I have never seen a team working so energetically and with such motivation to set up a new manufacturing site in record time.”
Stephan Runge, Vice President of Global Operations, Plasma Control Technologies
“Thanks to the global expansion of our services and the digitalization of our processes, our customers will benefit from an even more attractive offering.”
Andy Bremer, Vice President of Service, Yxlon Hamburg
The creative project team around Martin Müller is deeply engaged in its task, the planned expansion of digital services under the Yxlon brand. In 2019 the team globally rolled out a new service CRM system, doing it so successfully that the CRM vendor nominated Yxlon as a reference customer. “We are entering a new era of services. We know that we are doing exactly the right thing for our customers and the company. This inspires and motivates us to go the extra mile next to the day-to-day business,” observes Martin Müller, the project’s leader. The CRM software selected allows the project team to implement features requested by the individual departments with agility and speed. This made it possible to add additional functionalities beyond the initial specifications. Already, after the completion of the first stage of the service CRM roll-out, Yxlon is able to better and more quickly help resolve malfunctions for customers and capture valuable data on the stability of the installed systems. Next, the team is digitalizing the service processes in the field. This involves creating so-called digital twins, or exact digital representations, of the x-ray systems. These will greatly simplify the work of the service teams, by creating the basis for predictive maintenance in order to prevent process interruptions and maximize uptime of the systems for customers.