iConnect007 Interview with Dr. Subodh Kulkarni at Productronica 2019

Nolan Johnson, Managing Editor, from iConnect007 discusses with Dr. Subodh Kulkarni, President and CEO, CyberOptics, the SQ3000 Multi-Function system, MRS Technology, and the merging of semiconductor and SMT industries on location at Productronica in Munich, Germany

NJ: Nolan Jonson here for iConnect007. We’re at Productronica in Munich, and I am speaking with Dr. Subodh Kulkarni from CyberOptics, Welcome.

SK: Hello, thank you for your interest.

NJ: Why don’t you start us all off for anybody who isn’t familiar with your company, with what you do, and what your role is.

SK: CyberOptics is a sensor technology company. We make different kinds of sensors for either the semiconductor manufacturing industry or electronics manufacturing / SMT. We are a sensor technology company focused on two vertical markets; SMT and semi. We make very high-precision sensors. Typically these are very high accuracy, high speed sensors that get used in various kinds of in-line manufacturing processes. So you will see we make both sensor modules, as well as inspection systems, depending on the applications. We are at Productronica right now showcasing our All-in-One 3D AOI, SPI and CMM system that we call SQ3000™. It typically gets used in in-line manufacturing for high-end PCB’s as well as Advanced Packaging applications. What you see in the background over here is our All-in-One SQ3000 system.

NJ: Your new system behind us that you announced today.

SK: Correct. And what is particularly new about this system at this show, is we are announcing an in-line CMM (coordinate measurement machine) functionality in the system. If you go around the show floor, you will see many people talking about AOI systems and speeds and accuracies. We believe we are one of the best – highest accuracy, highest resolution, and highest speed – all combined. But, in addition to that, we have the multi-functionality. We have enabled SPI functionality in the same system, for which we received an award this week. We’ve also enabled in-line CMM functionality. Essentially our customers, what they are getting in terms of value, is not only good resolution, accuracy and speed, but multi-functionality that gives them tremendous flexibility with their systems. They get great return on their investment to help their yield and process improvements.      

NJ: You have capital equipment systems that you manufacture as well as technology that you license out to other suppliers, is that correct?

SK: We don’t license technology, per se, but we do sell our sensor modules to some competitors of ours. Specifically Nordson*, right behind us here on the show floor. If you go and take a look at their AOI inspection systems and open their systems, you will see our sensor module being the ‘brains’ of the system basically. So, we do that on occasion, but at this show at least, we are focusing more on the inspection systems side for SMT and semiconductor customers.    

NJ: If your competitors are using your modules, what is it that you’re doing that gives you that competitive advantage?

SK: That is a good question. What we really do, is in addition to the sensor, the system so it’s more than just the sensor. There is a huge component – software and application software, and the GUI that comes with it. For instance, Nordson is using our sensor in their AOI but they haven’t enabled the CMM functionality that we’ve enabled in our software. So it’s the same hardware platform, but with the software you can do multiple things with it. And that’s what we’re showcasing here with our SQ3000 – the multi-functionality and the CMM functionality.        

NJ: Right. When it comes back to making equipment that uses your sensors to its fullest, is probably you.

SK: We know our sensor better than most other people. We do have a little unfair advantage, if you will, in making sure we get the most out of our sensors.  

NJ: Best of luck here at the show. Is there anything else we should be talking about that I haven’t thought to ask?

SK: One thing you should be aware of, is the semiconductor industry and SMT industry are starting to merge, and this show is a great example of that. Here, Semicon Europa and Productronica are going on at the same time. Historically that was not the case, and you can see how closely these industries are coming together. That really is an exciting place for us to play in because that’s where the accuracy requirements, resolution requirements, and speed all are really driving to high-end technologies. And that’s what we are good at, the upper-end of the technology limits. So we are pretty excited about this convergence of the industry, and how we can help our customers improve their yield and overall productivity.

NJ: And you are not the only ones saying that about the PCB market and the semiconductor market converging together on these types of dimensions and so forth.

SK: That’s correct. You can take an iPhone** or Galaxy S*** device, open it, and see that there is no longer a conventional PCB in any of those high-end devices. What you see is a bunch of advanced packages that are strung together on some flexible modules, and that is really where the industry is going, and has already gone, and the rest of the industry will catch up. So it’s an exciting time for the industry and how it’s evolving, and what kind of technologies are needed now and in the future to enable the customers to do what they need to do.

NJ: Fantastic. I really appreciate your time and for updating us on what CyberOptics is doing.

SK: Thank you Nolan.

*Registered trademark of Nordson Corporation
**Registered trademark of Apple Inc.
***Registered trademark of Samsung