No Blaming the Past Print E-mail
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Written by Mike Buetow   
Monday, 01 February 2010 00:00


One year into the job, Assembléon CEO André Papoular is still up for the challenge.

In January 2009, after nearly 29 years with Philips, André Papoular was named chief executive of placement OEM Assembléon. Armed with engineering degrees in electromechanics, power electronics and automation, and experience in marketing, divestitures, and business management across two continents and three business units (electronics automation, consumer electronics, semiconductors), one could say this is the role he’s been preparing for his entire career. At Productronica in November, fresh off an announcement that it would team to install Valor’s performance monitoring and assembly traceability software on its placement machines, Papoular and senior director of marketing Jeroen de Groot spoke with Circuits Assembly.

CA: If you knew what the business environment was going to be like in 2009, would you have taken the job?

AP: [laughs] I spent 29 years at Philips, in marketing, divestitures, and finally, business management. I’ve worked on the electronics side, consumer electronics, semiconductors, in Asia and Europe. I think I knew what the job was, and that’s why I took it. I looked at the plan the first day and challenged it, because I knew it would not be [the way it turned out]. It’s been very enjoyable; the team has been supportive through the crisis.

CA: How did the deal with Valor come about?

AP: When the downturn hit, we did not blame the past. We faced the reality of today: What are the signals we could see and opportunities we could grab? There are not too many opportunities for vertical integration anymore. It is much more efficient to look for partnerships.

CA: How complex is it to be an OEM and a major distributor?

AP: The [customer’s] choice is not made by brand. We look at the width of our portfolio and how to select the best set for our customers.

CA: Has the economy affected the transactional nature of your business?

AP: For payment terms, because of some uncertainties, some companies needed to negotiate with us first. We had to revise means of payments to ensure [we would be paid]. We were scrutinized by suppliers as well. We will end 2009 with just a small amount of bad debt. We paid attention and had lots of discussions about payment terms.

What effect, if any, did [CyberOptics’ chairman] Steve Case’s death have on your partnership?

AP: It was a sad event. He had a personal relationship with many people at Assembléon for many years. CyberOptics is a proficient company and has done its best to ensure continuity. We have compliments to [chairman and CEO] Kitty [Iverson] and her team.

CA: Has SMEMA kept up with the industry needs?

JdG: For cph [component placements per hour], IPC-9850 still helps. Once people start talking about accuracy, it helps. In most cases, it remains a good starting reference. It would be relevant to establish a standard for changeover; for example, does it start with the first board through or the last board through?

CA: Will we see full-fledged inspection on the placement machine?

JdG: We have to be clear on what’s being measured. We focus on reducing at the source, at where the errors occur. So we try to make sure our machines make the fewest number of mistakes. Just adding a camera won’t solve that. For the printer, we did a study and found the prime cause of problems was particles of paper from the solder were getting in, and then they burned during reflow.

AP: We go back to the accuracy of the machine. If the machine is doing what it is supposed to, it won’t justify putting AOI after placement. 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 09 February 2010 20:14


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