Pursing efficient manufacturing of high-performance ceramics through AI and data analytics
- Fine Ceramic Components
In 2019 Kyocera acquired the ceramics manufacturing business of H.C. Starck Ceramics, based in Selb, Germany. Renamed KYOCERA Fineceramics Precision GmbH (KFPG), the company focuses on manufacturing high-performance ceramics for a wide range of industries, including machine, plant engineering, aerospace, medical, and oil and gas. By implementing AI and data analytics into the manufacturing process, KFPG aims to be a high value-added and key partner for our customers.
We spoke with KFPG's Managing Director, Dr. Carsten Russner, about the company‘s strengths and future strategies.
Please tell us about your company's business.
We are supporting a broad range of industries to create a better future using our customized technical ceramics. KFPG’s high-performance ceramics solutions are used in a broad range of industries, and our versatile, high-performance ceramics enable us to provide ever more specific and efficient solutions for a whole range of applications. For this reason, our engineers work day after day developing innovative products for new applications and industries. Whether it is for machine and plant engineering, automotive, the textile and food industry, or many other industries, our high-performance technical ceramics bring about new perspectives.
Your company has low-cost SiC manufacturing technology and high-efficiency production facilities utilizing AI. Please tell us specifically what kind of technology they are.
To secure enough grinding capacity and obtain cost advantage, we are working closely with a grinding partner in eastern Europe. This gives us the ability to compete in pricewise challenging markets if required. Additionally, we can utilize the grinding capacity of our own 20+ grinding machines and well-trained workers in Germany for high-level and quantity grinding tasks.
Also, with the implementation of MES and new ERP systems, we create full transparency on the shop floor. The gathered data is used to simulate different production scenarios based on capacity and select the most efficient production route to complete the customer’s order.
Please tell us the markets and areas that you are particularly focusing on.
One of our major focus areas is the semiconductor industry. With digitalization and increased demand for computer chips, the semiconductor industry is growing rapidly. In addition, the requirements and technical challenges of this market are becoming more difficult to fulfill. Mastering these challenges gives us highly valuable knowledge and experience and helps us position KFPG as a high value-added and key partner on the market.
Currently, we manufacture high-quality monolithic large-scale components made of high-performance ceramics for the semiconductor industry. These must, of course, be extraordinarily resistant since it is critical for the components to withstand the extreme conditions in the manufacture of semiconductors. In the near future, we will also provide sophisticated products produced by 3D printing.
How has your business changed since joining the Kyocera Group?
First, we became a solid and important member of a strong family. Through Kyocera’s global sales network, we increased our market coverage and became closer to our customers abroad.
Also, the broad material portfolio and many production technologies under the roof of KYOCERA Europe created new solutions and potential to support our customers. With the strong support of Kyocera HQ, we continue with our investments to secure our developments towards a successful future.
Finally, the internalization of Kyocera’s corporate motto “Respect the Divine and Love People” and the amoeba management principle created valuable guidance that helps us to embrace higher goals and challenges.
Are there any synergies with KFSG, which joined the Kyocera Group at the same time as KFPG?
First, there is stronger oxide-ceramic coverage on the market through KFSG’s material portfolio and production capabilities and joint efforts on developments, such as a new silicon nitride material.
Also, joint marketing and sales efforts to penetrate new markets and to increase our market share.
What are your company's future business goals and prospects?
We aim to make ceramic solutions with even more precision, complexity, and quality than we are already doing. And we do this along the entire value chain, from powder preparation to the finished component and careful final inspection, all in the company.
We are also developing unique manufacturing techniques, such as additive manufacturing for Si-SiC via 3D printing and Si3N4 via direct ink writing.
One of our major future projects is the reconstruction of the KFPG plant with the expansion of our plant site to support further growth and implementation of new production lines. We are focusing on markets such as:
- Space and ground telescopes – satellite frames and complex and large high-end ceramic parts with optical precision
- Metrology - Complex and large frames for measuring machines