Xcerra targets test synergies

Reinhart Richter,
CTO, Xcerra

LTX-Credence acquired the Multi-test and Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) businesses of Dover on Dec. 1 last year. And in May, LTX-Credence, Multitest, ECT, and atg Luther & Maelzer began operating under the Xcerra banner. The Xcerra brand brings together the four semiconductor and PCB test entities—offering handling, contacting, and measurement capabilities.

Reinhart Richter, CTO of Xcerra, was on hand at SEMICON West 2014 to comment on the combination of the companies. Richter, who was president of Multitest before the acquisition, said Dover informed him about two years ago of the plan to divest. Among competing purchasers, he said, “Clearly, I viewed LTX-Credence right from the start as the desired winner in the race.” He saw an opportunity with LTX-Credence to broaden Multitest’s Plug & Yield initiative to include the tester. Plug & Yield aims to consolidate production test development and deployment, automate project management, and offer efficient and accountable field service.

“At the first meeting with [then LTX-Credence president and CEO] Dave Tacelli, I felt that there was a likeness of mind.” (Tacelli now is president and CEO of Xcerra.)

“We have gone through the integration,” Richter said, “and it was really for the most part very easy, because there is no product overlap between the companies.” He noted that the companies could combine their efforts in sales and could learn from each other in activities like board design.

He cited in particular synergies with respect to ECT and its German subsidiary atg as well as its fixture group, which are deeply involved in assembled printed-circuit and bare-board test. He said, “There are a lot of common topics for handlers and bare-board testers, we have discovered.” A silo effect that previously separated the operating companies no longer exists, he added.

Richter said there has been some consolidation of facilities—eliminating duplicate offices in certain cities, for example. But, he said, “There is no consideration of closing, let’s say, Rosenheim and shipping everything to Norwood, nor vice versa.” (Rosenheim, Germany, is Multitest’s headquarters, and Norwood, MA, is LTX-Credence’s and now Xcerra’s headquarters.)

Norwood and Rosenheim, he said, represent “hubs embedded in an ecosystem that has made us successful, and that’s something we want to maintain—local suppliers, local expertise, access to customers—and all of that is important.” Synergies obtained through consolidation of back-office operations already have been achieved, he said.

Xcerra now offers the necessary equipment to put together a complete test cell. When asked how this capability is viewed, Richter said, “It depends on the customer. I don’t think you can go to any of the large device makers and say ‘buy everything from us.’” These companies, he said, have specific requirements, and in some areas, one equipment supplier may be a better fit than another. However, he added, “There have been cases, there are cases, and I think there will continue to be more cases where a customer says [of the test cell], ‘That’s all very nice. I just don’t want to deal with it. You do it and come back to me when it’s done.’”

For those cases, he said, “We can deliver the whole test cell, and that is very exciting. We have an ongoing project right now on an automotive device where we do that, and it has been very well received by not just one customer, but by several.”

Richter acknowledged that Xcerra faces formidable competitors. However, he added, “Being Xcerra, we have a certain uniqueness, and a key element of any strategy is that you need to be unique—otherwise you are immediately in a price game.” In addition, he said, with the combination of companies, Xcerra has “achieved a size that gives us more stability than we would have had if we continued as individual operating companies.”

As for branding, Richter said Xcerra will continue to use the four individual brands, including Multitest and LTX-Credence. “These brands are strong, and our customers and employees do rally behind them, and that has value itself. But we also need to show our markets as well as our employees that we now are one company”—now operating under the Xcerra umbrella.

Richter said his charter as CTO is to identify opportunities for growth going forward and to determine how to obtain more synergy—from the device to the PCB. A device will ultimately be placed on a PCB somewhere. He said, “If you look at the I/O geometry of any device, it’s matched to the pad geometry of a PCB—we have seen a lot of commonality.” He concluded, “I have always been someone who is thinking across disciplines. If you always think handler or always think tester—that’s too narrow an approach for our industry.”

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