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Interview with Rüdiger Scheel, Murata

"We hope that the very bottom has been reached!"

Fortsetzung des Artikels von Teil 1

"We do not want to become a bottleneck for our customers"

Let's talk about new developments: What are the smallest MLCCs you supply today? When might the next step in miniaturization follow?

Our smallest design, which we have been offering for two years now, is an MLCC of design 008004 with 100 nF and 6.3 V. In the meantime, however, we are also on the way to a capacitance of 1 µF. This development is being driven by the smartphone sector. Components of this size are used in power amplifiers and antenna switching modules. Our sweet spot, on the other hand, is currently 0201 – two sizes bigger. This 0201 is of course also available in automotive grade, but customers in this industry are currently still mainly busy with the transition from 0603 to 0402. A component smaller than 008004 is technically feasible; the key factor here is obtaining the necessary fine-grained ceramic powder which I would not expect to see for a few years.

How important is the automotive segment for Murata in general? Which turnover share did it have most recently? Which product segments come after automotive?

In the last financial year, the automotive share was 18 percent. It was already higher, but due to the corona pandemic and the million vehicles not built, the computer and telecommunications sales segments are well ahead of the automotive sector.

Murata is currently massively expanding its manufacturing capacities. Are there new production lines and plants for the automotive industry or is this expansion focused primarily on products for consumer electronics?

We are expanding production capacities for all areas of application in parallel. In the Philippines in particular, we have recently expanded our production capacities significantly. But of course, the Corona pandemic followed by lockdowns and restricted travel have made things more difficult, such as assembling new equipment or ramping up new production facilities. In China, we are currently expanding our plant in Wuxi as an automotive MLCC location, thus expanding our production capacities to a relevant extent during next year.

MLCCs continue to account for the largest share of Murata's sales. Can you give specific numbers for the last fiscal year? What products will follow next?

Murata is now a company with almost 14 billion euros in annual sales. Once again, the MLCC segment was the largest contributor to sales in the past fiscal year. It was followed by RF modules and other products, which include inductors, EMC filters and sensors.

We are in the second half of your financial year 2021/22. What sales growth do you expect for the current financial year?

In total, Murata expects sales to increase by 6.5 percent in the current fiscal year. While products for computers and peripherals are increasing by up to 20 percent and communication by some 20 percent, the growth curve in the automotive sector is flat. At this time, we will have to wait and see whether there will be any backlog effects in the automotive sector in 2022 as the situation in the semiconductor market improves. Eventually, about 10 million vehicles were not built globally due to the chip shortage.

How much does Europe contribute to Murata’s total sales? How is the relationship to the other sales regions? Will the increasing production of electric cars here help to make Europe more important for Murata in the future?

Historically, Europe's direct revenue share has been between 8 and 9 percent. Including what is designed and decided in Europe, such as manufacturing by German automotive suppliers in China, this share doubles. Considering the strong commitment to electric vehicles in Europe and the fact that these vehicles will be extensively equipped with driver assistance in view of autonomous driving, we expect annual growth of 10 to 20 percent in terms of unit sales in Europe.

What is the current supply situation for Murata? What were the lead times before the pandemic? Do you expect the situation to relax soon?

Considering the recurring regional lockdowns and the corresponding hygiene and logistics concepts in our plants, we currently have the situation very well under control, but this may change very quickly. Over the past few months, however, we have been able to help customers who were affected by supply disruptions by other manufacturers.

What are your expectations for 2022? Do you expect the market to relax, or will the current market situation continue?

This is a look into the crystal ball: We assume that the situation for semiconductors will gradually improve, but the supply chain will remain under stress in 2022. A real improvement is not expected until 2023. Our main task until then: not to become a bottleneck for our customers!

The interview was conducted by Engelbert Hopf.

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  1. "We hope that the very bottom has been reached!"
  2. "We do not want to become a bottleneck for our customers"

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