EMSNOW Executive Interview: Elke Eckstein, President and CEO, Enics
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and with over 50 years experience in manufacturing, Enics is 100% focused on industrial electronics. This means the company is a Manufacturing Service Company – but not only an EMS provider. With a specific focus on the global industrial business, their operating model is to take care of the total product life cycle. Elke Eckstein was recently named President and CEO of Enics. We caught up with her to learn more about her vision for Enics.
Your background and experience in the semiconductor industry and at Siemens suggest you are very familiar with the customer and supplier side of the EMS industry. Do you see any challenges in moving to the other side of the table?
On the contrary. I believe it is of great benefit to have been able to see and experience the industry from several sides of the table. As a customer of an EMS company, you want to receive what you order with minimum effort from your side. Being now on the other side of the table, I see the efforts and challenges which relate to this. It needs to be our goal to be “invisible” meaning being easy to deal with so that our customers can rely on us and feel safe and relaxed about outsourcing activities they don’t see as their core competences.
How will your specific background and experience contribute to the success of Enics under your leadership?
I have managed large semiconductor and connectivity companies in the past. The challenges were always to deliver highly advanced products and innovations at competitive quality, cost and service. My specialist knowhow in IOT, automation and digitalization allow me to understand the changes the industry and our customers are facing, and I can execute and prepare Enics for those challenges to support our customers. Our intention is to enlarge our service and solution offerings to the customers, becoming a service hub so that they can focus on the new competitive environment they face.
Enics has a long history focusing on Industrial Electronics – why such a sharp focus on one field?
Industrial Electronics for us is a set of characteristics from products and technology, business and commercial and certain impact on the world, not only some specific field or niche. We have long history and background in working with industrial OEMs and therefore we can utilize that experience and gained knowledge to understand and serve our customers better. We understand complex technologies, need for high quality and durability in rough conditions as well as long lifecycles of products.
What is your view on the company’s transformation from traditional Electronics Manufacturing Services company into a service hub?
A traditional EMS company is rather offering “helping hands” to its customers, meaning that the customer designs its products, makes the manufacturing and testing strategy and an EMS partner executes their plan. Now at Enics we take bigger ownership and responsibility in areas where the customer lacks or has no resources within its value chains. We want to be THE one-stop-shop to our customers, allowing them to focus on their key activities.
For example, we develop products on behalf of some of our customers, select the components for their products, developing manufacturing and testing strategies for them, as well as developing our own test solutions. We of course execute manufacturing as well but with our wide range of services we want to serve the whole product lifecycle from cradle to grave and take our customers’ products.
The Enics global footprint does not currently include the Americas. What are your views on possibly expanding into this or other regions?
We are constantly evaluating interesting opportunities in Europe, Americas and Asia-Pacific.
Where do you see opportunities for growth of the EMS industry and Enics in particular?
The outsourcing trend has been strong for a couple of decades and shows no signs of slowing down. On top of this, we can see that OEMs are looking for more attractive business models and earning logics, for example selling “uptime” instead of products. Consequently, their focus is shifting from products and systems to services and software. This trend means that OEMs no longer see the electronics products and systems as their core offering or core competence and naturally it further supports the outsourcing trend. As the OEMs have a strong need to have a solid offering also in these new areas, they are happy to cooperate with other companies. Hence, we see unparalleled opportunities for EMS companies to support OEMs in higher value-add services like R&D, digitalization, product support etc.
Enics sees a lot of opportunities in the integrated lifecycle services – in other words, offering comprehensive service solutions. We see a clear trend among our customers that they want to outsource larger parts of their value chains, including design and after sales. At the same time, they want to focus their purchases on a smaller group of strategic suppliers to reduce complexity and cost in their supply networks. Furthermore, we see opportunities related to digitalization (including data, software, automation, robotics etc.) and engineered systems such as Enics-developed test systems and power solutions, among other things.
What do you think are the major strengths of the EMS industry in capturing the profits from that growth?
Well, the usual benefits of outsourcing, e.g. the focus on core business, lower cost, asset flexibility, lower working capital, speed to market etc., will remain the same also with the new and growing areas of business. But the true strength of EMS companies is the long partnerships with the customers. Long partnerships that are based on mutual trust and common goals make the collaboration with partners easier also in new areas, and therefore, reducing the complexity significantly for the OEMs.
What do you consider the major challenges for the EMS industry going forward?
As OEMs require new services and solutions, the suppliers need to make sure that they invest in the necessary skills and new capabilities. Another big theme is speed and flexibility. EMS companies need to make sure that we are there when customers need us. Furthermore, the general environment in the markets is quite challenging these days. For example, the component market situation or trade politics, and this has an impact on the whole industry.
What are some of your hopes and dreams for Enics as you take over the CEO position?
That we can show that our mission (We drive the sustainable success of our customers) and vision (We deliver the best customer experience and uncompromised reliability in industrial electronics) are not just fancy ideas but that we truly deliver those things and thus add a lot of value to our customers. And, of course, I dream that by doing so, our profitable growth and strategic cooperation with our valued long-term partners carry us quickly to be a global high performing 1B€ company.
What else would you like to share with EMSNOW readers?
We are living in constantly changing market environment with huge amount of challenges in every business. However, one thing staying is people and the power of collaboration. That is the reason I get up and feel energized every day to drive our business and sustainable success of our customers. I have found out that our Enics team is full of good people and we want to deliver on our promise. I am welcoming all our partners and stakeholders to discuss, share and collaborate!