Vice President Solutions Development
Bryan Sayler, a 27-year veteran of the EMC industry, is vice president for solutions development at ETS-Lindgren, with duties that include identifying marketing trends for the company. He started his EMC career with Rayproof, a pioneering anechoic chamber and absorber company. Initially, Sayler managed anechoic chamber manufacturing, eventually having responsibility for shielding as well. Several years later, Escorp bought Rayproof and combined it with Rantech and the Electromechanics Company (EMCO), both already owned by Escorp, to create EMC Test Systems, or ETS. In 2000, the Lindgren company was added, forming the present ETS-Lindgren.
As Sayler explained during an interview at the recent IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility and Signal Integrity Symposium, the basis of the company through about 2000-2001 had always been shielding and absorbers, often combined in chambers. The Lindgren company brought with it very interesting new MRI and electron microscope applications, but shielding remained central. Of course, forming ETS-Lindgren integrated not just the two groups of products, but also the company cultures.
The turning point occurred when, as Sayler recounted, “We were approached by one of our major customers that wanted us to build everything, including the software, necessary to make wireless OTA measurements for cell phones.” And as they say, the rest is history.
The cell phone work was successfully completed, resulting in the initial version of ETS’ EMQuest wireless test software. A few years later, the TILE! Program was redeveloped as a comprehensive test executive, specifically for EMC engineers. Today, the opportunities that ETS pursues often result from its capabilities in both the wireless and EMC fields.
For example, Sayler described the growth ETS currently is experiencing in Asia—the most rapidly growing of the international areas making up about 45% of the company’s sales. Some of the infrastructure investments aid product research and development. But on the EMC side, Sayler said, test facilities are being built so that companies can do their own testing inhouse, avoiding the delays associated with a U.S. or European lab. He said, “In China in particular, that’s the kind of cycle that we’re in now. A lot of companies are building their own chambers to be able to do good product development and export beyond just that market …. Using either the TILE! Software for EMC or the EMQuest software for wireless, we’re able to provide a complete end-to-end solution for a customer.”
To support increased activity in international markets, ETS-Lindgren has eight factories worldwide. Almost all of them have some shielding capability because that’s the largest volume product. The absorber is made in Oklahoma. Sayler continued, “We do our own research and development and have quite a capable team for dealing with not only the chemical properties of the foam, but also the mathematical modeling of the shapes.”
In addition to local factories, the company has established several overseas subsidiaries. Sayler explained, “In China, we have a wholly owned foreign entity—ETS-Lindgren China. In India, we have the same. In Tokyo, we have a legal entity ETS-Lindgren Japan. In Singapore and Taiwan, we have offices that are part of our U.S. business. Based on market size, sometimes we’ll work through a distributor, and sometimes we’ll work direct.”
Beyond shielding and absorbers, ETS also manufactures antennas, field probes, line impedance stabilization networks, GTEMs, reverberation chambers, and full anechoic chambers. Of course, few companies, including ETS, actually make all the parts of a complex test system. Sayler discussed the advantages of working with a number of well-established companies to provide the best solution for each customer. He said, “We have a number of partners that we work with, such as Rohde & Schwarz, Keysight Technologies, and Anritsu—major instrument suppliers. If they have equipment that is useful and preferred by the customer, we’ll integrate that into our system.”
Continuing with the theme of system integration, the company’s recently introduced line of amplifiers has been well received, according to Sayler. He elaborated: “We don’t specify our amplifiers the same way that other companies do. We don’t talk as much about output power because output power is useful only if you need it. What we talk about instead is the delivered field strength.” He continued, “We have control over the design optimization of the amplifier and the chamber. If your chamber isn’t designed well, you can get a lot of reflections that will have an impact on your system. By designing a better chamber and a great antenna, we’re able to do more with less in terms of the amplifier size.”
Perhaps the largest current opportunity is in the automotive industry, where EMC and wireless are converging. Sayler described the use of as many as 20 or 30 antennas in a high-end car to deal with satellite radio, LTE, tire-pressure monitoring, and front and rear radar collision avoidance systems. He explained, “We’ve set up a group inside ETS-Lindgren to focus specifically on this because the way an automotive company thinks about their antennas is different from the way a cell phone company would think about their antennas, but they have the same problem.”
Sayler is in a unique position to understand and respond to customer needs, being responsible for identifying market trends, developing specific solutions, and implementing them via a project management team that handles all aspects “from cradle to grave.” In addition to Sayler, ETS has separate manufacturing and sales managers, also with worldwide responsibilities.
Within ETS, marketing’s role, as Sayler described it, “… is to help connect our customers to our capabilities. Most of the time, our customers don’t fully appreciate all of the things that ETS-Lindgren can do …. They either think of us as a shielding company or as a software company, or as an antenna company …. Marketing’s job really is to help customers grasp the totality of what ETS-Lindgren can do for them.”