I knew when I visited EV Group’s world headquarters in Schärding, Austria two years ago that there was an ongoing story here and I would be returning to write about the next phase of growth. (This time, we’ll be catching it all on video as well.) What I didn’t anticipate was the warm welcome we received at the Hotel Gugerbauer. As a returning guest, I was greeted as an old friend, handed a key and that was it. No registering, no showing of my passport. “You’ve been here before,” was the explanation. The room was lovely, the food – delicious; the sauna – reviving. It was a good way to rest up from the arduous journey from Dresden that involved navigating the autobahn in the rain and dark and rescuing our luggage from taking an unaccompanied side trip to Phuket.
Rested and refreshed, we arrived at EVG’s facility at a respectable 9:30am and were greeted by a full welcoming committee that included Paul Lindner, executive technology director for EV Group; Clemens Schuette, global head of marketing and communications; Hermann Waltl, executive sales & customer support director; Markus Wimplinger, director, business technology development and IP; Dr. Thomas Glinsner, product management director; Daniel Burgstaller, product manager and Lisa Kinz, marketing and communications. After a business update by Waltl, we spent much of the morning touring the latest expansion of the facility, which has now been doubled in size to keep up with the company’s growth spurt of 40% in 2011. Although plans had been in the works for some time, I was amazed to find out that from breaking ground to completion, the project only took from July to December and is operating in full swing.
Increased order intake, 3D integration technologies approaching high volume manufacturing, and the goal to meet the requirements of a tier one supplier were all motivating factors for the expansion, explained Dr. Werner Thallner, EV Group’s executive operations and financial director. In addition to doubling the space, provisions were made to meet requirements for class 100K clean manufacturing with test rooms that can be made Class 100 clean. The original facility is also undergoing updates to comply with 100K clean manufacturing, and the machine center where all the equipment parts are custom manufactured has also been enlarged and outfitted with new tools to allow for machining the larger parts needed for 450mm tools. Last summer, EVG introduced the world’s first 450mm wafer bonding tool developed for bonding SOI wafers and are working in partnership with SOITEC in Bernin, France to test and qualify the tool at SOITEC’s facility. When it comes to the transition to 450mm wafers, EVG is eager and ready to participate, but as Wimplinger explained, process development for these tools requires close collaboration and partnership with customers.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t dedicate a part of this post to the legendary hospitality we received during our brief stay at EVG. Lunch featured traditional Austrian fare, specially prepared by EVG’s in-house chef. (And when we were running over our meeting time, she poked her head into the room to tell us our meal was ready, and if we didn’t break soon it wouldn’t be her fault if the food wasn’t as good as we expected.) And to get the full Schärding experience, we were treated to dinner at the Bums’n, a local haunt known for its Baumgartner Bier, brewed right in town and named for the beer barrels bumping together. (I was told it also carries another slightly inappropriate reference for those who speak German). We feasted on Brat’l in der Rein, a hearty local dish of roast and smoked pork, dumpling, potatoes, grilled cabbage, radish salad, followed by a shot of schnapps. I could feel my inner Austrian emerging….
And so ends our whirlwind trip to Germany and Austria….. Look for Triple I at Work, the Sequel, coming to 3D InCites soon! ~ F.v.T.