Rohm (Kyoto, Japan) is a global supplier of both active and passive electronic components but it is focused in terms of the applications it wishes to serve. It has set ambitious targets for growth in Europe and Jean-Pierre Joosting caught up with Christian André, president of Rohm Europe (pictured right), and asked him about how the company is targeting the environment as a source of organic growth in Europe and where he sees the company going in the next few years.
EE Times Europe: How do you see the automotive market developing in the next decade with respect to electronics and what role will Rohm play in this market?
Christian André: We see automotive as a great opportunity for the industrial electronics market. With global warming and the volatility of the oil market, automotive manufacturers are looking to increase efficiency and eventually produce alternative solutions to gasoline systems. Today there are two technologies in play – hybrids and the electric vehicle (EV), even though EVs are at an early stage and require a great deal of improvement.
For example, today Rohm is co-operating with Honda in developing silicon carbide power transistors for use in Honda’s high-power modules for the automotive industry. Silicon carbide MOSFETs offer the advantage of reduced heat dissipation or higher efficiency.
There is also a strong incentive from governments to develop new technologies due to the CO2 taxation system for vehicles in Europe. More electronics is needed to ensure better CO2 profiles.Analyst Semicast predicts that the average electronics content per vehicle will, rise from $297 today to $375 by 2015.
EE Times Europe: Do you make any further efforts on top of RoHS and WEEE with respect to the environment?
André: Yes, Rohm has a lot of environmental initiatives beyond lead-free, RoHS and WEEE, including a reforestation program in Australia. Since 2001, Rohm has been planting eucalyptus trees on a large scale in the vicinity of Mount Gambier, Victoria, a city in southern Australia, as a part of its contribution to the prevention of global warming by locking in CO2. The program will reach 1000 hectares this year.
Further, no waste water from Rohm factories is released to the environment or water supply and is instead recycled – only ‘green’ substances from the recycling process are released.
Our environmental policy is core to the company’s set of values and seeks to minimize energy consumption as well as the impact of materials and products on the environment during procurement, manufacturing and eventual disposal.
EE Times Europe: What is your involvement in optoelectronics and what key technology trends are you targeting?
André: Rohm is one of the strong global patent holders in the field of optoelectronics. One key area of investment is in organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology for illumination. As OLED technology is thin and light it is ideal for use in portable applications. To this end Rohm is co-operating with other companies such as Mitsubishi Electric to bring OLED technology to the market – addressing key concerns such as life-span.
EE Times Europe: Specifically, does Rohm Semiconductor have or plan any activities in LED lighting?
André: We are currently working on power LED devices and expect to have products ready for the market in the near future. The LED market is very competitive and quality is a key issue among lesser known suppliers particularly out of Asia. In addition, there are often problems with patents. LED lighting is a nascent market today and is highly fragmented. Consolidation is expected to begin in the near term as the market develops.
EE Times Europe: One of your key strengths is passives. What trends do you see playing out in this market or market segments?
André: Passives are very important to Rohm and represent 6 percent of worldwide revenue for the company. We see passives as a key product for maintaining or developing customer relationships – passives are the proverbial foot in the door.
Passives also represent the origins of the company. In 1971, Rohm Europe was established and the first products launched were passives followed by discrete devices. Today the company is still investing in passives, for example in areas such as small size resistors, low-ohmic – milliohms – resistor technology and low-profile, small-size tantalum capacitors. These niche technologies are difficult to master and are are a core skill set.