IEN: Mr. Heimlicher, fi rst and foremost Contrinex is known as a supplier of inductive sensors for applications under harsh conditions. What are the key industries for those sensors?
Heimlicher: All-metal sensors are primarily used in the metal working industry, where they have to operate under especially harsh conditions, as well as in the food & beverage industry and in offshore applications. High-pressure sensors, on the other hand, are frequently used in cement processing and hydraulic applications.
IEN: In the spring of 2007, you launched your robust, all-metal RFID system. How was the new product received by the market, and in which areas has it been applied up to now?
Heimlicher: RFID systems are very complex systems, which require a rather demanding and time-consuming marketing. Typical applications are, for example, the rough, metal-cutting and oil-containing conditions in the automotive industry. The tags mounted to the work piece carriers contain data related to the specific product, as well as information on the manufacturing process.
IEN: After your mid-decade expansion in emerging markets such as Brazil, China and India, your focus shifted to Europe again in 2007 and 2008, with investments in Italy, France, Hungary and Germany. How important is Europe for Contrinex as a company location and market?
Heimlicher: Europe, and here especially Germany, is still the biggest market for us and thus of crucial importance.
IEN: In times of price decline on the sensor market and quality assimilation on an international level: Does the label “Made in Switzerland” still count for your customers?
Heimlicher: The label “Made in Switzerland” is still very important for our customers, in the “established” as well as in the so-called emerging markets.
IEN: Last year you have expanded your product portfolio by safety light curtains for fi nger and hand protection. Will safety sensors gain more importance for Contrinex in the future, and will the safety products even be expanded to other areas?
Heimlicher: Yes, the product launch of safety light curtains for access control is still planned for this year. Furthermore, our portfolio of safety products will be expanded continuously in the future.
IEN: Contrinex, among 34 other companies, is a member of the IO Link Consortium. In brief, IO Link is a multivendor industrial standard that provides for a continuous communication from the control to the fi eld level, which facilitates the transmission of process, parameter and diagnostic data. Which products and solution do you offer in this area, and how have they been received by your customers?
Heimlicher: Currently, our new fi ber-optic amplifi ers with digital display LF#-3066-403 are available with IO Link interface. In the future, IO Link versions will be offered for most of our new products, as well as for ASIC-based sensors. At present, the demand for those products is rather moderate, but I am sure that this will change with the expansion of the IO Link product range.
IEN: Mr. Heimlicher, thank you very much for the interview.