Q5 Interview – Glenn Palmer, Murata Electronics UK
Glenn Palmer, Managing Director of Murata Electronics UK, talks to Electronics Weekly about the advantages possessed by the UK electronics industry, market opportunities for RFID, and the demands customers are making for the development of passive components…
1. What’s been the biggest change to happen at your company in recent years?
Murata started life as a passives company, but as the market has changed over the years, so have we. Only 40% of our revenue comes from our capacitor business these days. The modular products we produce today, such as WiFi and Bluetooth modules, are design-driven products as complex as anything produced by a semiconductor house. Product groups like our sensors and RFID ranges would not normally be associated with a passives company. Whilst some of our products may be passive – we are not!
2. What advantages does the UK electronics industry have over other countries looking to develop cutting edge electronics?
British universities have traditionally produced extremely strong research into both materials and electronics and I’m happy to say this is definitely still the case. Murata has collaborated successfully with Sheffield University on organic electronic materials and fabrications of organic/inorganic hybrid devices and the School of Chemistry at Manchester University on mesocrystal materials.
We are looking forward to reaping the benefits of future advances in materials and nanotechnology brought about by these collaborations!
3. What market opportunities do you see in the UK for RFID?
As an enabling technology, RFID allows for the creation of real value in many different business applications. Asset tracking is a focus market for purposes of security, location and access control. Supply chain management can lead to greater operational efficiency resulting in productivity gain and ultimate cost saving. Reducing manual process and increasing throughput to any manufacturing process can be achieved whilst maintaining a good ROI, typically within 12-18 months.
The retail market can also benefit by adopting RFID, although this is still some way off in terms of general acceptance and required cost of implementation. Both anti-counterfeit and process control feature prominently in most RFID applications.
The medical sector can also benefit from RFID Technology, allowing monitoring of pharmaceutical products for history of when and where produced, verification of authenticity as well as the ability to control supply within a medical environment on a individual patient basis.
As the technology continues to evolve, the costs of the overall solution will continue to reduce, allowing the creation of a greater number of solutions to overcome business problems.
4. Can you give an update on what’s happened side since C&D Technologies’ Power Electronics Division was purchased in 2007?
C&D was kept as a separate entity until April of this year and we are now in the process of integrating the sales team into Murata’s European operation. At the time of writing we are developing the system interfaces to enable both companies to operate using the same order processing systems.
5. What specific demands are customers making for the development of passive components, and how is your company meeting these demands?
Customers are continually looking for products that can be offered in smaller case sizes. Capacitors, Inductors, Ferrite Beads, SAW Filters, RF Connectors, Bluetooth Modules, PIR Sensors and so on are all areas where Murata’s design and production expertise is able to offer ongoing improvements for smaller product packages without significant impact on the electrical performance.
Customers also want higher levels of integration an increasing number of applications are looking for more complex “solutions” to technical issues rather than simple components, such as more complex filtering solutions in T and Pi configurations in place of simple EMI filters.
Customer demands have also led to increasingly complex wireless solutions in a single package, such as combining WiFi, Bluetooth and FM Radio in a single module.
See also: Q5 - Interviews with electronics industry leaders
Read all the Electronics Weekly Q5 interviews. From ARM’s chairman, Sir Robin Saxby, to touchscreen technology firm Zytronic’s MD, Mark Cambridge, the business leaders share their particular insights on the UK electronics industry.