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As the sensors market expands ams takes advantage

Analogue and sensor specialist ams is looking to become a €1billion company by 2019, according to CEO Kirk Laney,who will be succeeed by Alexander Everke in March 2016.

The company has seen a significant increase in revenue this year, with Q2 profit up by 59% to €170m, compared to Q2 2014, while H1 profit is up by 68% to €323m. Revenue has been buoyed by the continued growth of the Asian market, specifically China, and the company’s shift towards producing sensors for consumer products. According to ams, 71% of the sensors it now produces are for the consumer market, mainly smartphones and other mobile devices.

“We have a very good position in the mobile space,” Laney said. “We have our foot in the door with mobile suppliers and have expended into audio, near field communication and optical sensors for mobile devices. As long as the bottom line looks good, we could go 100% consumer.”

The consumer market in Asia has increased significantly in the last year, representing 65% of ams’ business in the first half of 2015 compared to 48% at the same point in 2014. However, Laney said: “The Asian market is getting more cautious and orders are becoming less predictable.”

In an effort to expand into the American market, which currently contributes 4% of revenue, ams is building a fab in New York State. The fab, being built to ams’ specifications, will be leased to the Austrian company for the next 20 years, meaning it will suffer no depreciation whilst reaping significant cost-per-wafer benefits.

Chief operating officer Dr Thomas Stockmeier said: “Building a new wafer fab will help us achieve our growth plans and meet increasing demand for our advanced manufacturing nodes.

“Our decision to locate the facility in New York was motivated by the highly skilled workforce, the proximity to esteemed education and research institutions, and the favourable business environment provided by Governor Cuomo (Governor of New York) and the public and private partners we are working with on this important project.”

Laney added: “Our infrastructure in Austria is maxed out and opportunities were better in the US than Asia. We fit a hole it was looking to fill in sensor technologies.”

Its Austrian fab produces some 180,000 200mm wafers per year and has no room to expand production. The New York fab is expected to produce 150,000 200mm wafers in its first buildout with the capability for a 130nm manufacturing process. The eventual manufacturing capacity is estimated to be around 450,000 200mm-equivalent wafers per annum.

As well as consumer and communications devices and more challenging applications in the automotive, medical and industrial industries, ams is targeting the Internet of Things, especially smart homes and working environments.

People’s circadian timing can be influenced by smart sensors that modify the light spectrum on a nonphotic level. This can be used in the home to promote better sleep patterns, while better LED lighting in factories and offices could have an impact on mood and productivity.

The smart lighting technology is based on XML coding and as such can be added to without having to upgrade software or replacing obsolete units. Atmospheric sensors, powered by the light fixture, can be added to the system, enabling features like temperature and ventilation to be optimised.

Pic: Kirk Laney, CEO of ams

Tom Austin-Morgan

Source:  www.newelectronics.co.uk

Date: 22.09.2015
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