On the eve of electronica we caught up with the CEO of France’s largest EMS company, ALL Circuits, to get an insight into their business and the challenges faced by the industry.
EMSNOW: Can you give us a brief overview of the development of ALL Circuits from the early management buyout through to the current footprint?
Bruno Racault: Our initial strategy was very simple. We wanted to survive! To save the jobs of the 400 or so people we had worked with for so many years in the former Valeo facility in Meung-sur- Loire. To do this we put together a management buyout and acquired the facility from Jabil, who had bought it from Valeo several years prior.
Our strategy went from ‘survive to thrive’ and we knew we had to be very focused to remain competitive in Western Europe. We did this with a real focus on automation. Now you’ll see most of those 400 staff are planning, configuring and maintaining heavily automated line. Very few people touch product. In the time since the buyout we have almost tripled the facility’s revenue with the same headcount.
We grew again through the acquisition of Sagemcom’s EMS business in Bayonne, France, and Tunisia, which gave us great capacity, extended competences in other industries, and a low-cost footprint for those projects with more manual operations. This growth gave us additional component buying power as well, which we have leverage to support our clients.
Today we are growing that footprint further with the addition of a plant in Guadalajara, Mexico, to address the American market with some of our existing global customers and new ones. This will help us to become a truly global EMS.
The next stage of our operational development will be our Industry 4.0 journey, which is well and truly underway. As one of the most automated companies in the world, operating with automotive traceability, we’re ideally placed to take on this digital transformation.
EMSNOW: Your newest facility is in Guadalajara, Mexico, why did you choose there for your next factory?
Bruno Racault: We are a very customer-led business. Our customers want us to be with them in the Americas and, after research, we found in Guadalajara the talent, the supply chain and the infrastructure we needed. Our automotive experience and prowess are a real asset to bring there.
Guadalajara has a great talent pool, that is very important to us. Guadalajara also has a great deal of innovations and is attracting new businesses all the time. We’re looking forward to this being a very important part of our business and we have a grand opening planned for January 11th, where we will show our facility to local customers, politicians and innovators.
EMSNOW: With electronica around the corner, what do you think are the biggest challenges facing European EMS companies?
Bruno Racault: You know being competitive is always the biggest challenge for EMS companies, and nowhere is it more challenging than Europe. But we think we have a great mix of skilled staff and automation to remain ahead of the curve.
At the end of the day, EMS companies need to be innovative, coming up with new ways to service their customers. We added design to our portfolio and that is really resonating with customers who see the value in concurrently designing the product, the manufacturing process and the supply chain.
Another challenge is the adoption of Industry 4.0, but we see that as an opportunity too. We’re not underestimating the digital transformation of our business, but we feel we have the systems, control and team in place to really move ahead and provide one of the smartest manufacturing ecosystems in the world.
EMSNOW: Does Industry 4.0, or digital transformation offer any solution to these challenges?
Bruno Racault: We see Industry 4.0 impacting every part of our business, ensuring quality, delivering traceability, improving efficiency and performance, and perhaps even more importantly delivering even greater customer value, agility and visibility.
Digitising our business systems, our supply chain and our manufacturing processes can only give us, and in turn our customers, more control and comfort.
EMSNOW: You’re active in innovation and France seems to be booming in this area as we saw at CES this year. What can ALL Circuits do to support innovation in France and globally?
Bruno Racault: We are already involved in the French Fab and French Tech initiatives and we believe in the excellence of French engineering and the French electronics industry. We provide our support through WeNetwork, CAP’TRONIC and collaboration with the other major French EMS companies. We have been sponsors of Business France for three years now, to support and promote French start-ups at CES. This is in line with our policy of constant innovation and our stated desire to support promising French start-ups through “made in France” production.
It’s really gratifying to see so many young French entrepreneurs in Eureka Park at CES. The number grows every year and we’ll be there again in January to support them. It’s a real source of energy and enthusiasm and a constant reminder of how technology can be used to create value and improve lives.
EMSNOW: Anything else you’d specifically like to share with EMSNOW readers?
Bruno Racault: The time of pure subcontracting or contract manufacturing is over. To succeed you need now to deliver exceptional services. We see DFx: DFM, DFQ, DFT, etc. as hugely important. Today, it is the era of CMS “Collaborative Manufacturing Service”. And we must never forget that “service” is the most important word in our industry.
We recently added the strap line “You Can Have it ALL”. If ALL is an integrated, end-to-end service, delivered efficiently and economically, we’ve got it covered. If ALL is ALL technologies, ALL Markets, ALL Geographies, we got that covered too.