Helmut Rauch
About: Helmut Rauch - COO

As COO, Helmut Rauch manages all operations of the SCHMID Group in Freudenstadt. His major responsibilities focus on personnel and production issues as well as business development. In this role, he is also a driving force in the establishment of automation and intralogistics technologies. Since the late 1990s, the industrial engineer has been involved in shaping the company’s expansion into Asia and the USA.

1. Can you highlight the accomplishments of SCHMID Group in the field of automation?

Already in 1966, SCHMID developed the first automation system for a printed circuit board production line. Our spectrum ranges from loading and unloading technologies to buffer systems and intralogistics solutions, such as cassette systems and inline systems, to applications for non-contact cluster linking and factory automation. For decades, we have been supplying the market as a special machine manufacturer, not only with tailor-made process procedures but also with intelligent transport and interlinking logistics. With the introduction of the vertical module line generation SCHMID InfinityLine V+ last year, SCHMID made the leap into the high-end market for automation technology in the PV and PCB industry. Automated guided transport systems (AGVs) and intelligent robotic components are among the key technologies in the SCHMID Fab 2020+.

2. SCHMID Group has established itself as a global leader in the technology market. What were the driving factors in the success of the company?

For more than 150 years, our innovative strength has ensured the continuous growth of SCHMID. In our three company technology centers, we are working with leading research institutes to conduct basic research, constantly developing tailor-made production systems and process solutions for our customers. Based on our core competence in wet-chemical manufacturing processes for photovoltaic and printed circuit board production, we have established ourselves as a leading solution provider for renewable energies. We recognize the trends of the future, promote sustainability and globalization, pave the way for e-mobility and Industry 4.0 and holistically create progress for society at the pulse of the time.  We maintain close partnerships with our customers and suppliers and offer the best quality and customer orientation through our global production standards and our service network.   

3. Could you please share your insights on the three business units that SCHMID Group has established in recent past? What is their products differentiation?

SCHMID masters processes that are used in the most different industrial sectors and builds machines and automation systems perfectly tailored to the requirements. By always entering into new fields of application, three business units developed taking advantage of numerous synergistic effects: Electronics, Photovoltaics, and Energy Systems supported and accompanied by the fourth business unit Customer Service.

Business Unit PV: As a technology leader, SCHMID supplies highly efficient equipment for the total value chain of photovoltaics - from single equipment for wafer, cell and module production as well as Thin-film applications, turnkey production lines, and complete factory solutions.

Business Unit Energy Systems: SCHMID Energy Systems develops, produces and distributes stationary energy storage systems based on the powerful Vanadium Redox Flow Technology. The EverFlow® product family includes compact storage solutions for home-based applications, telecom storage facilities as a backup for grid-dependent or grid-independent telecommunication towers, battery containers for businesses and industry as well as large storages for energy suppliers.

Business Unit Electronics: SCHMID offers system and process solutions for the manufacture of printed circuit boards and other electrical components ensure low production costs and increase the efficiency of the final products. In addition to the wet processes, we are specialized in automation and transport systems for the electronics sector. We automate individual machines up to the innovative Smart Factory. SCHMID further uses the extensive wet process and automation competence for anodizing and chemical milling.

4. What organisational strategies do you implement to ensure a smooth running of the various departments?

Our communication channels and hierarchies are flat and our employees are closely networked across the borders of the company worldwide. All departments work hand in hand on a project basis or in key accounts, always aiming to exceed our customers' expectations. We continuously invest in our innovative strength and develop our employees and processes permanently at the highest level. Our expectations on ourselves are also our guiding principle: Expect Solutions.   

5. What is the most prominent technology used by SCHMID Group for its applications namely automation, and intralogistics? Please explain in detail.

A future challenge for our R & D is the development of new loading technologies for single panel handling of highly sensitive and integrated circuit boards and substrates. A special focus is on the further development of contact-free transport with thinnest material thicknesses down to 0.025mm. Furthermore, we are working on the contact-free full automation of our vertical process equipment as well as on the development of an ESD-capable handling. All new developments have one objective: the perfect fusion of automation technology and smartly controlled intralogistics between the individual production clusters.  

6. What are your future strategic plans and vision for SCHMID Group?

SCHMID shapes the future - because our products and solutions pave the way for megatrends into society. As a family-owned company with a 150-year tradition, we will continue to act consistently in line with our values, and through quality and innovation, we will be an indispensable factor in our partnerships with our customers and suppliers.