28. April 2022

Interview with ProMik's CEO Winfried Rosenberger

"With ProMik as a system supplier, you get the complete reliably tested process chain"

Get a look into the success story of the owner-managed family business in this interview with ProMik's CEO Winfried Rosenberger.

In 1995, Winfried Rosenberger founded ProMik. Since then, ProMik's goal has been to work closely with customers to deliver solutions that are customized to their processes. ProMik's future-oriented thinking stands for this, as well as the values of the owner-managed family business: customer orientation, innovation and tradition.  

Which business areas are planned to be further extended?

W. Rosenberger: About 80% of our customers are in the automotive sector. Nevertheless, we also have partners in the industrial sector or from the area of White goods (household appliances). We want to expand this business successively, but the focus is still on the automotive sector, because there are complex applications whose solutions represent our specialty. Our innovations such as SMART ICT and functional testing in combination with FLASH programming are also used here in particular. However, ProMik is always ready for new and exciting challenges.

What impact did the Corona pandemic have on ProMik last year?

W. Rosenberger: The situation we faced last year was that many production sites were closed. This means we had limited contact to some of our customers. However, thanks to our global competence, we were able to do business in North and South America when the pandemic affected our business in Asia and Europe, respectively. 

Which current technology trends particularly affect ProMik?

W. Rosenberger: Optimizing manufacturing processes and thus reducing production costs is a particular challenge in electronics manufacturing. This results in advantages for the location and for the product. Here we have interesting approaches through our test capabilities to increase throughput and thus save costs. Another trend is the concentration of several functions in one assembly. For example, today there are almost no car radios as a single assembly – instead, they have become an integrated part of the multimedia/ navigation system.

Industry 4.0 is a development that affects almost every industry. What contribution is ProMik making here?

W. Rosenberger: The crucial thing in electronics manufacturing is the coordinated production stages. It consists of many individual processes that have to be coupled with each other. Our process is one of these many. However, ProMik's products are developed in such way that they can be easily integrated into the Industry 4.0 infrastructure.

What challenges are solved by ProMik's innovations?

W. Rosenberger: I founded the company ProMik with a focus on programming services. At that time, we pre-programmed more than 30 million components annually on machines we developed ourselves and delivered them to the SMT line assembly process. The disadvantages of this process are additional costs for programming as well as software on the components that may no longer be up-to-date. With the integration of onboard programming and its associated benefits, the process of pre-programming steadily decreased. Programming should happen on the shop floor to FLASH the most current software and avoid additional costs. This is the task we have taken on ourselves. Another challenge, which ProMik solves, is the longer programming times due to memory sizes. While assemblies used to have a programming time of 5-20 seconds, nowadays they can be several minutes. This presents us with the exciting task of offering our customers solutions to meet the process cycle times. For this purpose we have developed various suitable ideas: We have divided the programming process into two sub-processes, namely initial programming and then final programming at the end of the line.

What advantages does SMART ICT offer?

W. Rosenberger: ICT stands for In Circuit Test and is an independent process in production: When a PCB is assembled and soldered, it runs to a so-called test, which checks via the connected test points if the components on the PCB are assembled correctly or if they are even assembled at all. This means that an electrical test takes place. Only when this process has been successfully completed does the assembly move to the FLASH programming station. However, ICT cannot be used everywhere with modern electronic assemblies. PCBs are becoming smaller and smaller, so that there is no longer room for test points at which the component test is performed. Consequently, ICT can no longer take place. Therefore, a new method had to be found for testing assemblies. This is how my idea of SMART ICT came about: At the beginning, software is temporarily loaded onto the microcontroller. Then the microcontroller tests the function of its memories, resistors, capacitors etc. via its peripheral lines. One limitation of the SMART ICT is that no exact values of the components are measured here. One can only check whether the resistor or the component under test is present or not. This is still met with rejection by some industry members, since components are to be measured for value and tolerance. Nowadays however, the delivery quality of the component suppliers is very good, which is why additional testing of the components on the assembled PCB is not absolutely necessary. The elimination or reduction of ICT makes the process more time-efficient and cost-effective. In addition, the trend towards smaller PCBs and electrotechnical reasons make it necessary to find alternative test options. ProMik's answer is SMART ICT.

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How does ProMik differ from other suppliers of programming systems for electronics manufacturing?

W. Rosenberger: We are not only a pure tool manufacturer of our programming systems, but also offer system solutions. This means that the entire process of a FLASH production line is supplied and installed by us - including the connection to the MES system, the cyber security specifications and everything that goes with it. We also manufacture the needle bed (fixture) for contacting the PCBs ourselves in our mechanical design department, because this component also makes a decisive contribution to process quality. With ProMik as a system supplier, you get the complete reliably tested process chain as a plug & play solution.

Is this the reason, why customers should also trust ProMik for cyber security ?

W. Rosenberger: Absolutely! If a system solution is required in manufacturing today, the topic of cyber security is usually also included in the OEMs' specifications. Cyber security is very complex and consists of three pillars: The IT infrastructure, the programming system including data handling and the on-chip security features integrated in the microcontroller. We map this entire process chain of cyber security requirements. That is why we are the right contact for our customers in this area as well.

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What major milestones has ProMik already achieved and what goals is the company still pursuing?

W. Rosenberger: When I look back on our life's work, we have created a medium-sized company in the last 28 years, where my wife, meanwhile my sons and last but not least our employees have strongly contributed to the success of ProMik. Therefore, I see a significant milestone in the fact that the company will be passed on and a smooth generational transition will take place. Other milestones that we still want to achieve are constant product innovations. The SMART ICT, as well as the further development of our programming solutions are an important potential for healthy growth.