Page 13

EETE JUN 2015

Hanns Windele: Is the area of security an opportunity for collaboration between companies? Reinhard Ploss: Certainly. But this is one area where I think industry needs to have the backing of politicians. We can talk together about technology and products and work together very closely. But in order to do that, we need competition laws providing enough space. How can you establish a multi-company standard on a global basis, starting in Europe, if there is no interaction with your competitors allowed due to anti-trust legislation? The automotive industry has to work together on this, so have the engineering industry and the software people. If the politicians really want the industry to deliver on this, they have to provide us with the right framework. Hanns Windele: How do you think the European semiconductor industry should be promoted? Reinhard Ploss: First of all, Neelie Kroes’s vision of ‘Airbus of Chips’ triggered a good discussion about the set-up of the European semiconductor industry. At the European Commission’s Electronics Leaders Group we heard different voices saying: ‘we need more production’, ‘we need more technology,’ or ‘we need more IP’. In the end we were able to bring it together and define a common position. The question is to what extent we have to invest in European production capacities in order to ensure the secure supply chain for our customers in Europe. The Airbus of Chips is ‘system thinking’ and the key elements in it are that you own the technology, design and capability of embedded software. Hanns Windele: How do we attract more people into studying electronic engineering? Reinhard Ploss: Education is important, of course. I think our universities are very capable. So why aren’t more people studying engineering topics? One explanation could be that people today want to serve a purpose in life. We saw a significant positive change when we positioned Infineon not only as a semiconductor company, but as an organisation addressing the challenges of global society. The world needs higher productivity to fund better living. We have to make more out of less – for example, more mobility with lower CO2 emissions, or higher crop yields with less land use. Hanns Windele: Perhaps the most iconic management move you have made is the acquisition of International Rectifier. What impact has that had on your business? Reinhard Ploss: The acquisition of IR was a bold move. We constantly look into opportunities to foster our long-term competitiveness – and the idea was that the acquisition would offer economies of scale and scope. We knew we had to grow in the US, getting closer to the Valley and the new trends that are created there. The acquisition strengthens Infineon’s position. We are also convinced that IR can help with their know-how pushing further our ‘product to system’ approach. Another advantage is that Infineon has been working very successfully with Tier 1 customers, while IR adds a strong approach to consumer-oriented markets. Hanns Windele: What are the key factors that will ensure this is a good acquisition? Reinhard Ploss: Clarity and speed. Uncertainty is the enemy of everything. We identified the key leaders at IR that we wanted to stay with us and we have kept the organisation as it is. You cannot change everything in one day. Then we integrated both organisations into one and finally we will have unified processes and IT systems. We also identified areas to ring-fence in order to create value. Sometimes it is better to accept that fast decisionmaking causes some losses. But ambiguity has the greater loss potential. Hanns Windele: Automotive is a strong area for Infineon. Do you expect a shakeout or consolidation in this area among the main players? Reinhard Ploss: On the one hand consolidation is always a topic in the semiconductor industry. But often, when there is an attractive target, it is very expensive, or it is not offered. On the other hand, the automotive industry is interested in keeping a broad and competitive supplier base. Currently, two of our competitors are trying to combine their businesses. But this will not change the game. Infineon has been looking regularly at how we can develop our strengths in the automotive sector. We are happy with what we have achieved organically, and we now complement our competencies with the acquisition of International Rectifier. Hanns Windele: Does it help to use brand comparisons, such as ‘Infineon is the Porsche of the semiconductor industry’? Reinhard Ploss: We are much more modest than that! I think we would like to be as fast as Porsche, but also attracting and competing in a larger volume market like Volkswagen. We would like to say we have the quality of Toyota and the load capability of MAN as well as the speed of a Porsche. QUICKFIRE QUESTIONS If I gave you €1,000 what would you do with it? My family would ask to go on holiday and if there was any left over I’d buy a model plane. What are your hobbies? Model aeroplanes. What non-business books do you read? I am a big fan of science fiction because it is interesting to take a completely different view of the future If you were sent to prison, who would you choose to share your cell with? Mahatma Gandhi for example, or Martin Luther King. It should be a person who has a strong enough conviction to be prepared to die for it. Those are the most interesting and most reliable people. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2015 13


EETE JUN 2015
To see the actual publication please follow the link above