Exclusive Interview with Rohde & Schwarz

»We had to learn a new language«

19. März 2020, 13:46 Uhr | Nicole Wörner

Fortsetzung des Artikels von Teil 1

How important is the oscilloscope sector in the company today?

Oscilloscopes are an indispensable segment in our test and measurement portfolio. Of course, this has to do with our claim to be a full-range supplier of measurement technology, but not only that. For example, as the integration of functions in chips and corresponding end devices progresses, it becomes necessary to combine tests of digital and analog functions. Measurements are thus no longer performed in the time or frequency domain, but in both.

The oscilloscope market is characterized by a tough price war. Are you still satisfied with the margins?

We do not comment on margins. We are in a position to offer at competitive prices. Some promotions such as the current "Everything you need. And more.", which offers devices with all options at an extremely attractive price, speak for themselves. We would not do this if we were not making money with it.

To what extent has your sales concept changed over the years?

We started with Rohde & Schwarz direct sales. With the expansion of the product range towards the low-price segment, it was a logical step to also focus on the distribution channel. Today, you can find our instruments - and by the way, not only oscilloscopes - at almost all well-known distributors.

Rohde & Schwarz is traditionally strong in the field of communications test and measurement. To what extent has this helped you in the oscilloscope market?

There are synergies, of course. Customers in the communications or RF sector also use oscilloscopes at all levels of price and performance. They usually know us well. But that does not mean that we are automatically known in every laboratory. In general, of course, our reputation as a competent measurement technology provider has helped us a lot in the oscilloscope market.

At market launch, Rohde & Schwarz presented two oscilloscope series for the entry-level segment. The portfolio now comprises eight families of instruments with frequency ranges up to 16 GHz. Can you pick out one series/product that is currently particularly important for you?

It is difficult to say. It depends on the application. If I look at applications in the automotive sector, for example, the class up to 6 GHz with the R&S RTO and the R&S RTE is dominant. With its options, it is perfectly suited and successful for measurements on current and future buses in cars. When it comes to testing all interfaces in a modern ECU, the R&S RTP is the first choice. The situation is different when characterizing power electronics. Here, the R&S RTM is first choice. What both segments have in common is that we can offer complete solutions with real customer added value.

You offer oscilloscopes only as stand-alone instruments. However, modular and virtual instruments are becoming increasingly common. To what extent is this an issue for you?

The majority of applications for oscilloscopes are installing and troubleshooting electronic circuits - in other words, very interactive work with the measurement instrument. That's why the screens of oscilloscopes for ergonomic work are getting bigger and the instrument depth is getting smaller, so that the workplace can be used more efficiently. I consider this to be mainstream, and this is where we are focused. In addition to powerful hardware, the software of a measuring instrument is becoming increasingly important.

How do your development costs for software and hardware relate to each other in percentage terms?

There is no general answer to this question, it depends on which class of device you are in. In the case of devices with a high bandwidth, where in-house chip developments such as A/D converters or front-ends are necessary, the time and effort required for hardware development is much more important than in the low price segment. All in all, the expenditure for software and hardware development roughly balances out the increasing share of software.

What other gaps are still in the portfolio? And what developments can we expect next?

We currently cover about 60 percent of the entire oscilloscope market. Anyone who knows us will assume that we are not satisfied with this. But we will also come up with further innovations within our current portfolio. To conclude: Ten years ago, the declared goal was to become number 3 in the market. What is the goal for the next ten years? We will continue to create added value for our customers with innovative solutions and thus grow faster than the market. I wouldn't wish to be tied to a particular ranking in the market.

The interview was conducted by Nicole Wörner, Markt&Technik.

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