Stories – Trends
Trends – How Comet is enabling transformation
More room for growth.
In 2020, the Comet Group expanded capacity at several locations to be able to meet future demand worldwide even more reliably and quickly.
The current footprint with production facilities in the USA, Europe and Asia allows us to provide continuity regardless of geopolitical trends and to react flexibly to changing conditions.
Now leaner, more efficient, and faster in Flamatt
For Philippe Nussbaum, Director of Operations for Plasma Control Technologies in Flamatt, 2020 was a whirlwind of activity. The upturn in the semiconductor industry, already noticeable at the end of 2019, was turbocharged by the accelerated digitalization during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in production growth of up to 100% in a single quarter in Flamatt.
“Being ready to deliver and able to respond to customer demand efficiently and satisfactorily is the name of the game at a time like this," says Philippe Nussbaum, Director of Operations, Plasma Control Technologies, Flamatt.
Despite more difficult working conditions as a result of Covid-19 measures, his team was able to achieve a substantial performance increase in vacuum capacitor production in 2020 by introducing new lean manufacturing processes. “Capacity has been doubled, production lead time halved and efficiency increased by 12%.”
The long-term trend of increasing digitalization in all areas of life is generating more and more data that needs to be stored. For this reason, Philippe Nussbaum, too, is convinced that demand in the semiconductor and electronics sector will continue to accelerate in the coming years. “The most important thing is to be prepared. Our action plans for changing demand forecasts are already in place.”
State-of-the-art manufacturing facility for generators in Aachen
The countdown is on: After successful initial prototype tests with a selected customer, and with internal plasma tests completed, the new RF generators will enter full beta testing in 2021. After that, it will not be long before the market launch. Thanks to the recent move within Germany from Stolberg to the new location in Aachen, Comet is well prepared for this moment. The new site offers room for growth, and above all for the development and production of the new RF generators. Capacity for this was more than doubled.
The new production line was custom-developed to Comet’s requirements and is equipped with very advanced technology. The design of the workstations follows the latest ergonomic and work physiology principles.
The manufacturing processes are now data-driven. “It’s impressive how much flexibility we have gained through real-time data acquisition, because now we know at all times where we stand in the production process,” explains Markus Löhrer, Director of Operations in Aachen. Since the system always knows exactly which components are needed for the specific configuration of a given generator, inventory management has also become much easier.
Like other Comet manufacturing sites, the Aachen plant uses robotics to increase efficiency. For example, testing of the RF generators is completely automated.
Ready for production in Penang
Penang, Malaysia, is the new manufacturing hotspot of the semiconductor industry. Our new local subsidiary here puts us where our customers are, in close touch with the latest trends and developments.
“The manufacturing site in Penang is ready for volume production, with great people on board," says the project manager, Stephan Runge, Vice President of Global Operations. The new production facility in Penang was completed in record time.
Even the new challenges brought by Covid-19 could not hold the team back. Whenever possible, preparations that normally would have taken place on site were handled virtually instead. “Our global team of experts made it happen. In my career, I have never been on a project in which a global team worked with so much motivation and purpose," comments Runge.
The infrastructure has been leased from an established local partner. Local management and experts have been hired. Already, Comet Technologies Malaysia has more than 40 employees.
“It has been very exciting to work in this extremely collaborative team. All of us – whether from the Flamatt headquarters, from San José, Shanghai, or the local team – shared the same goal of making this project in Penang a success,” says Chai Huat Yeoh, interim General Manager, Penang, Malaysia.
After just a few months, the Plasma Control Technologies division was able to set up the first assembly and testing systems in the new production space. The first RF matching networks were assembled on the production lines and released for manufacturing use in August 2020. Since the beginning of 2021, our manufacturing facility in Malaysia is also officially certified by our customers and is ramping to high volume production.