Our path to becoming a higher-performing organization.
Comet strives to become higher-performing, more flexible and faster. Our goal is to grow into a highly profitable CHF 1 billion company with clear market leadership in each of the markets we serve. As important levers for achieving this, the Group is pooling internal resources and strengthening and scaling its organization. For this transformation, we are focusing on three key thrusts: “boost growth”, “enhance efficiency” and “strengthen culture”.
Product portfolio: The expansion of the product and service portfolio remains central to Comet as a technology leader – always with the aim of helping customers in existing and new markets to raise their productivity with a more powerful offering. Thus, the launch of the new RF generator, which is currently in advanced testing by customers, is a top priority for the PCT division, along with the new match controller and new vacuum capacitor features. In the IXS division, building on the successful launch of a new automated workflow and new x-ray systems such as the UX50, the aim is to develop the offering further in the direction of digital services and 3D inspection in order to become a true manufacturing partner for customers. The four system releases in 2021 enable customers to achieve more efficient, time-saving examination and more accurate inspection results. At IXM, the focus is on high-end x-ray modules for the adjacent market of electronics and battery inspection. In 2021, Comet comprehensively strengthened its module portfolio (with the XP/UP, Ion, MF and FXE series).
Presence in Asia: A core priority for Comet remains the further expansion in Asia. Already, more than 70% of the world’s RF power and x-ray products for the semiconductor industry are deployed in this high-growth region. The ability to operate locally is becoming even more important as geopolitical tensions rise and individual governments invest in local supply chains. For Comet, the main focus here is on strengthening our local presence with manufacturing facilities in China and Malaysia, expanding R&D and demo centers such as in Korea, and enlarging our sales and service organization, as in Japan and Taiwan (Prepared to exploit new potential in Asia).
Processes: In the wake of the substantial expansion of production capacity in Penang, Malaysia, in Flamatt, Switzerland, and in Aachen, Germany (annual report 2020: More room for growth), Comet’s top objectives include the continuous optimization of the supply chain at the global and local level, the elimination of duplication and unnecessary costs, the further automation of production and “soft” business processes, the standardization of products, and the implementation of lean measures. To better support these efforts, Comet in 2021 established an Operational Excellence function at Group level. The first results are evident in improved productivity per employee and in reduced scrap. They are also reflected in customer recognition such as the Supplier Excellence Awards for the Plasma Control Technologies division. As well, the Group set up a central Strategic Purchasing team in order to achieve volume effects particularly in the area of indirect cost items, such as travel.
Organization: Based on the organizational model honed in 2020, Comet will continue to further improve the worldwide interaction of functions both across regions and with other functions. A pulse survey of all employees globally in the summer confirmed Comet’s early progress toward becoming a higher-performing organization, and identified further potential for improvement. The goal is a scalable organization that can respond to regional needs with agility. An important step in this direction was taken in 2021 by giving the support functions a more global focus.
Strengthen corporate culture.
Learning, developing, and empowering are central themes for Comet, especially when it comes to promoting improved collaboration, customer focus, and speed. With dedicated training on topics such as leadership (through the IMD business school in Lausanne) and sales, Comet continually supports the development of its employees at various levels of the organization and creates common foundations for better collaboration. For example, in 2021, with the involvement of all regions, functions and divisions, Comet refined its values and behaviors, reinforced them in training sessions, and introduced a spot award program (see People & Planet). Seventy-five employees received intensive sales training by one of the world’s leading providers. Internal training programs also helped to ensure adherence to good corporate governance, through refresher trainings such as on the Group’s Code of Conduct.
Attractive employer: Comet’s most important resource are its employees. In view of the shortage of skilled personnel, particularly of R&D experts and engineers, Comet is expanding activities that support its visibility and attractiveness as an employer. Networking, attracting and retaining talented young people early on, during their studies, is therefore high on the agenda, along with identifying and developing talent within the company and improving terms of employment. Comet thus initiated a partnership with the University of Illinois in 2021 to support students, invested in a workshop facility for training apprentices at the Swiss site in Flamatt and supported a research project at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland.
Since 2021, Comet also has a new program for the continuous and systematic identification and development of in-house talent. The terms of employment were enhanced. In Switzerland in summer 2021, Comet received the “Fair-ON-Pay +" certificate for gender pay equity.