Scoop TV Interviews Dr. Subodh Kulkarni, President and CEO

Philip Stoten with Scoop TV Interviews Dr. Subodh Kulkarni, President and CEO, CyberOptics Corporation at APEX 2019

PS: What kind of market trends and demands are you seeing now for your products?

SK: The markets going through some very exciting changes right now and fundamentally what is happening is the back-end of semiconductor industry and SMT industry are starting to merge, and a lot of it is being driven by very high-end electronics as well as semiconductors. What’s going on is stacking of chips is happening. Components obviously are getting smaller. Silicon surfaces and reflective components are beginning to play a role now in electronics. So some exciting things are changing the way the electronics industry needs to adapt going forward.

PS: And that kind of merge of those two areas – we’re seeing that in the semi industry, the OSAT industry, the EMS industry at the same time. What does that mean in terms of not just challenges, but opportunities for you to provide equipment because you’ve got experience in both sectors.

SK: Absolutely, and anytime there are challenges it creates opportunities for the advanced companies doing advanced technologies and that’s what we thrive on, so what it is creating, is real need for highly accurate 3D measurements, not just optical inspections, but optical measurements at high speeds as well, and that’s where we come in with our MRS sensor technology – our proprietary Multi-Reflection Suppression 3D sensing technology. It is faster and more accurate than any other 3D conventional technologies that you see on the show floor over here and we are seeing all kinds of exciting opportunities where customers are coming to us because they need the speed, they need accuracy, they need the resolution and that’s really what we are going after right now.

PS: Yeah and I guess the importance is just not taking an image / a snapshot, but it’s actually being able to take measurements and derive data that can be actionable.

SK: Exactly. As you said, people don’t want just inspection and a pass / fail report. Many people can do that and they don’t know what exactly it means. What they really need to know is point-to-point distance, line-to-line, distance, data-to-center distances, and they really are asking questions that historically the electronics industry or even the back end of semiconductor industry never really bothered to ask. But now they are getting into their XYZ measurements and what does it mean for my process if the measurement is not right. What do I feed back to my process and how do I control my process better, so all kinds of exciting things are going on in the industry right now.

PS: Yeah and that data I guess is going up to an MES system?

SK: Usually, that’s where AI programs come in and that’s where our automation basically is coming in.

PS: Yeah, interesting when I look at that that kind of moving line between Back-End and SMT are you finding the companies that were in Back-End are looking into SMT? Or the companies that are mainly in SMT are seeing the opportunity in Back-end?

SK: From what I’ve seen there’s a little bit of both. I mean I definitely see some back-end companies coming into the SMT, at the same time I do see some SMT companies going into the back-end. Historically, companies that have played in the back end have played with high-resolution, higher accuracy, but a lot higher price point and SMT price points are a lot lower but the resolution and accuracy is not as good as the back end, so there’s a little perception issue as well. When SMT industries go to try to play in that market, the expectation from the customer is a lower price point but if you are coming from the semiconductor Back-End side, the price point seem to be a little higher.

PS: Yeah they are interesting contrasting industries and they’re certainly contrasting industries in terms of their own margins as well aren’t they?

SK: What’s going to happen is the merge is already started and you can see companies like Camtek and Rudolph and KLA, who’s in the process of buying Orbotech right now. That’s a clear sign of what’s going on right now in the industry, but in the future, you will see all kinds of industries trying to compete for this explosive market place. What we are focused on is the need. The exciting thing from my viewpoint is the customers really are fortune 100 companies, the high-end smartphone companies, the high-end electronics manufacturing companies or the semiconductor fab and if you ask them, they are not happy with any solutions that are available today, so the need is there. There’s an urgent issue right now and neither the semiconductor industry, nor the SMT industry has been able to solve those problems today so that’s where I view that this is as fertile ground for many of us who can go there.

PS: Yeah and it’s a real opportunity for you, particularly with expertise in both areas

SK: Exactly.

PS: Thanks so much for stopping by. It’s an absolute pleasure to chat as always and enjoy the rest of the show.