MUNICH, Germany Against the background of problems with its consumer business and encouraged by substantial success in its automotive division, Swiss chip maker Micronas eyes to industrial markets.
The company has experienced interesting demand for its hall magnetic field sensors with integrated bus controllers, said Peter Zimmermann, marketing manager Automotive for Micronas, in an interview with Industrial Control DesignLine Europe. "In industry automation, we see a very broad application spectrum for hall sensors," Zimmermann said, adding that the company plans intensify its sales efforts in these markets. "In the past years, we have focused on automotive, but demand for this type of devices from industrial customers is significant."
Zimmermann said in a first step the company has evaluated which products could be offered to industrial customers without any modification. He said that in the design of construction equipment, factory automation equipment and white goods the company sees a good chance to repeat the success it achieved in the automotive segment.
In the second step, the company will check in which application segments the intelligent hall sensors could be used after slight product modifications in design. Since hall sensors are used to measure magnetic fields and currents, they could be integrated into batteries in order to enable the design of 'smart batteries', battery monitoring applications or power management, Zimmermann said. The unknown factor is yet customer acceptance for 'smart' batteries, Zimmermann said. "The price hike is not much a factor the open question is if customers are interested in the additional value."
Another aspect could be the selection of the bus interface integrated in the sensors. Presently, the devices are available with either CAN or LIN bus controller. But while CAN is widely accepted in industrial applications, the LIN acceptance is unclear. Being member of the LIN consortium, Micronas hopes for a strong demand of this low-cost solution.
The market volume is another unknown variable; Zimmermann was unable to specify the company's market expectations. "The market is quite fragmented. Market reports are available, but they have rendered to be less useful," he said.
In terms of sales organization, Micronas plans to cling to its established processes and structures: Large customers will be attended directly by sales reps; for the great mass of smaller customers, the company will avail itself of distributors.