The Cicor Group coped well with the extraordinary challenges of 2020. For example, the safety of employees was guaranteed at all times during the COVID-19 pandemic at all sites and deliveries to customers were largely uninterrupted. In response to the temporary significant drop in demand from important customers, costs were adjusted flexibly, resulting in only a slight decline in the EBITDA operating margin. Further optimization of working capital enabled a pleasing free cash flow and a continued low level of net debt. In the second half of the year, the order situation improved markedly. The number of project inquiries from existing and new customers remains at a high level. Therefore, Cicor has started the new year with positive momentum, which makes us confident for 2021 despite the current risks due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as well as reemerging material shortages.
At the Cicor Group, more than 150 well-trained engineers work on customer projects and make the engineering department a unique selling point of the company thanks to their interdisciplinary competencies. Using efficient methods and tools, they support Cicor customers in the areas of hardware and software engineering, PCB layout and component selection, test engineering, tool design, printed electronics, and process and quality management throughout the entire product life cycle.
For many years, Cicor has been able to count Regloplas AG, a leading international manufacturer of temperature control units for the processing industry, among its valued customers in the areas of engineering and production. Regloplas also counts on Cicor’s know-how for its latest product, the RT200 control system, which meets all the requirements of digital production environments.
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As an Electronic Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider with comprehensive development competencies, the Cicor Group has the necessary know-how and experience to optimize the engineering and design capabilities of its international customers. The ten Cicor sites are staffed by over 150 engineers who have a deep understanding of the challenges facing the electronics industry. Already in the initial phase of an engineering project, the teams focus on all important aspects for future industrialization. Compared to pure engineering companies, they have the advantage of being able to call on specialists within the Cicor Group at any time with comprehensive knowledge with regard to the future manufacturability and testing possibilities of substrates, assemblies and devices, as well as the associated cost situation. A typical engineering project may already include participation in the preparation of the specifications or may only begin with the actual development or design of a device or an injection molding tool. Smaller subprojects, such as the layout of printed circuit boards, can be good entry points for getting to know Cicor as a potential engineering partner. For optimum implementation close to production, it is advantageous if the customer brings his future engineering and production service provider on board as early as possible.
HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE ENGINEERING
Technological advances in the engineering and manufacturing of electronic products, as well as regulatory requirements, present major challenges to marketers today. Cicor’s engineering department supports customers, especially from the medical technology and industrial sectors, in the realization of ideas around their innovative electronics and the associated software. Cicor designs and implements comprehensive device and machine control systems as well as software projects, for example for embedded systems or wireless data communication. All development processes are certified according to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 and include full documentation that always guarantees complete traceability.
Due to strict standards and regulations, comprehensive testing of electronic components, assemblies and devices continues to gain importance. Cicor has many years of expertise in the engineering and manufacturing of product-specific test systems for electrical and physical variables. The test engineers in the in-house test equipment department are specialists in designing, manufacturing and programming test solutions and integrating them into
Cicor’s global production environment.
QUALITY DATA MANAGEMENT
The test systems integrated into the production environment interact fully automatically with the system developed by Cicor for complete traceability. All data on the components used and the manufacturing processes employed, as well as the test results and reference values, are automatically transferred to the stored database. This information enables assembly-specific documentation and test certificates for customers and forms the basis internally for ongoing process optimizations. The unique quality data management system is particularly appreciated by customers from the medical technology sector and may well be the decisive argument for working with Cicor in some cases.
The Cicor Group’s competence center for mold design and manufacturing designs and produces high-precision injection molds that meet the highest quality standards and enable the production of plastic parts in high volumes and over a long period of time. Molds with up to 64 cavities are designed and optimized using modern software. In the production of the competence center, the high-precision molds are manufactured with cold, semi-hot and hot runner systems on the highest quality machines. The service life guarantee for hardened molds at Cicor is up to 1,000,000 cycles.
TECHNOLOGY CENTER FOR PRINTED ELECTRONICS
Flexible additive manufacturing processes will play a central role in substrate production and interconnection technology in the future. Cicor is the first EMS service provider in Europe who has launched a technology center for printed electronics. A team of engineers is working on application developments, but is also conducting materials research in this new field of electronics. The printing technology used enables a wide variety of conductive, non-conductive and biocompatible materials to be printed on a much wider range of substrates than it is possible with the processes used to produce three-dimensional circuit carriers. Devices for medical technology, aerospace and IoT applications can be significantly reduced in size by using the printing technology employed.
ADDED VALUE FOR CICOR CUSTOMERS
In the case of a development cooperation, the comprehensive competencies in the mentioned areas form a measurable added value for the customers of the Cicor Group. Since it is already taken into account at an early stage of the project which tool, which printed circuit board or which electronic system is to be manufactured and tested later and how this is done, the required quality and the optimum price/performance ratio of the end product are in focus from the very beginning. The engineering teams work hand in hand with the production plants and take into account all interfaces to purchasing, production, logistics and sales in their daily work. Customers can rely on Cicor’s groundbreaking ideas and engineering concepts in the wide-ranging fields of expertise and, in turn, have the opportunity to concentrate on their core competencies.
The shares of EMS companies in the market for external engineering services are growing steadily. The engineering sector offers excellent opportunities to position Cicor as a strategic partner for high-margin services with potential new customers as well as with existing customers. High-quality substrates, assemblies or devices developed in-house pave the way for a long-term customer relationship and close cooperation in the areas of engineering and production.