Emerging Player in Power Control and Sensing
This article is about a VIP-Interview with David Heinzmann, President and CEO of Littelfuse Inc.
VIP-Interview with David Heinzmann, President and CEO of Littelfuse Inc. about his company’s move into power semiconductors for industrial and automotive markets.
Henning Wriedt: During the last 90 years, your company acquired more than a dozen different companies, including IXYS. What was the outcome of all these activities?
David Heinzmann: To achieve our growth targets — both organic and inorganic -acquisitions have played an important role in the strategy of our company in recent years. We have achieved these growth targets by investing in the future — through acquisitions and new product development that strengthen our global infrastructure — and by adding value to customer relationships.
Our brands are the cornerstone of that investment and are our commitment to each customer. Offering some of the world’s best known and top-performing brands in electronics, telecommunications, automotive and electrical, Littelfuse stands as the global leader in circuit protection and an emerging player in power control and sensing.
Figure 1: The SimBus F is one of many innovative packaging solutions currently offered by IXYS. It is popular in applications that leverage various phase leg configurations such as AC motor control, UPS inverters, and welding equipment.
Henning Wriedt: With at least 15 different product groups, do you want to cover every application in the diverse energy markets?
David Heinzmann: It’s never been our goal to be everything to every-one. When we evaluate our strategy, we look closely at our product portfolio, our capabilities, and our strengths ... and we choose to play in the markets that align with those strengths and where we can create value for our customers.
Henning Wriedt: Are the IoT and Automotive markets already attractive enough for your company?
David Heinzmann: When we set out on our strategy in 2012 and we refreshed that strategy at our Investor/Analyst Day on December 2016, we were sure to align our strategy with broad, sustainable global megatrends like safety, connectivity, and energy efficiency. These global megatrends play to our strengths. Our circuit protection products ensure the safety of products that run the spectrum from small electronics to home automation and appliances – on up to the auto industry.
Certainly, trends like hybrids, EVs, and EV charging stations all present opportunities, but the continued electrification of traditional gasoline-powered automobiles also plays to our strengths. As cars get smarter, add more sensing technologies, add more electronic navigation systems and infotainment components, all of these shifts in technology allow us to add to our content-per-vehicle.
More and more automotive functions are shifting from mechanical technologies powered by belts and the car’s internal combustion engine to electric, battery-powered motors. Again, all of these play to our strengths in circuit protection, as well as our emerging technologies in sensing and power controls.
Figure 2: Littelfuse TVS diodes are used to protect semiconductor components from high-voltage transients. The p-n junctions of these devices have larger cross-sectional areas than those of normal diodes, allowing them to conduct large currents to ground without sustaining damage.
Henning Wriedt: Electronics sales increased by 32 percent. Which role plays power electronic products in this segment?
David Heinzmann: The growth in the electronics industry has taken place across multiple end market and products. We have seen strong growth in automotive products driven by energy efficiency and electronics content in passenger car and also in communication networks driven by faster mobile communications. Together with the IXYS acquisition, which Littelfuse has just completed, we have a stronger position in industrial markets including renewables and motor drives.
Henning Wriedt: How are you going to structure your portfolio of power electronics products in reference to market demands and available technologies?
David Heinzmann: We are in the very early days of the IXYS integration but we have a significant customer overlap in key industrial and automotive markets. We can leverage these relationships to grow the Littelfuse position in industrial markets and use Littelfuse expertise in the automotive space to expand the IXYS presence. The IXYS product portfolio fits very well with the existing Littelfuse Semiconductor manufacturing footprint, and we look forward to developing those capabilities further.
Henning Wriedt: Why did Littelfuse invest in Monolith Semiconductor?
David Heinzmann: Our strategy has centered around a more significant move into power semiconductors for industrial and automotive markets. Silicon carbide technology is a promising advancement in the semiconductor market today, and our investment in Monolith allows us to quickly evolve our portfolio with strategically relevant and innovative technology.
Figure 3: Silicon Carbide (SiC) products are ideal for applications where improvements in efficiency, reliability, and thermal management are desired. Littelfuse and Monolith focus on developing the most reliable Silicon Carbide MOSFETs and Diodes available while delivering industry-leading performance.
Henning Wriedt: In 2016, you opened a Technology Center in Silicon Valley. Is this about keeping up-to-date in technology and expertise?
David Heinzmann: Our Silicon Valley Technology Center allows Littelfuse to do just that - to keep up-to-date with technology and expertise. It allows us to accelerate the development and validation of next-generation materials and products for the automotive and electronics markets. In addition, it builds upon our network of global design centers and testing labs and brings together advanced development and materials development teams into a single dedicated facility.
Bottom line, creating innovative solutions that solve our customer’s most complex and demanding needs is the foundation of our company. And, our tech center in Silicon Valley enables the collaboration and creativity needed to create the key technologies of the future.
David W. Heinzmann became President and Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the Board of Directors, in January 2017. He was previously the company’s Chief Operating Officer responsible for all three Littelfuse business units, as well as the company’s global operations and information technology. Mr. Heinzmann began his career at the company in 1985 and possesses a broad range of experience within the organization. He has held positions as a Manufacturing Manager, Quality Manager, Plant Manager, and Product Development Manager.
Mr. Heinzmann served as Director of Global Operations for the Electronics Business Unit from 2000 to 2003, Vice President and General Manager, Automotive Business Unit from 2004 to 2007, Vice President, Global Operations from 2007 to 2013 and Chief Operating Officer from 2014 to January 2017, when he was promoted to his current position. Mr. Heinzmann currently serves on the Board of Directors of Pulse Electronics Corporation and the Advisory Board of the University of Illinois at Chicago Engineering College. Mr. Heinzmann has a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology.
This article originally appeared in the Bodo’s Power Systems magazine.