Back in 1992, five enterprising engineers founded a small company specializing in the automation of electronics tests (ITE) in Belgium, and in doing so they laid the foundations for what later became IPTE Factory Automation (FA), Integrated Production and Test Engineering. This small company, whose success story began 20 years ago, has in the meantime developed into a globally active provider of systems for individual and flexible high-tech automation solutions. To date, IPTE employs a worldwide staff of some 550 people worldwide.
The portfolio of solutions and products has been continually developed and expanded by the company's own engineered equipment innovations, as well as by carefully selected company acquisitions since 1992. The product offering encompasses universally applicable solutions for the entire fields of factory and manufacturing automation and for board and product tests. What has, of course, remained especially strong throughout is the focus on company goals, defined by co-founder and majority owner Huub Baren: "We will perform as the leading independent global automation partner for the electronics and mechanics industry, whereby we escort and support our customers worldwide at their company sites". IPTE FA has attained a strong position in the world market as a premium automation and test solutions partner for leading electronics manufacturers in many areas of industry. The company has achieved this by investing heavily in research, development and support. "Our presence on the world market has been acknowledged by our clientele and underlines our firm promise to have a direct presence close to our customers", explains Hubert Baren, general manager at IPTE FA.
Initially, the business concept was mainly based on the idea of just offering universally applicable solutions for the automation of tests. Over the years, the group has been more broadly positioned, whereby the firm objective of producing universally suitable equipment has remained. Since 1998, the equipment portfolio has also covered the area of manufacturing automation. And in the interval between 1999 and 2009, IPTE NV became operational in the field of electronics manufacturing services (EMS). Nevertheless, the automation business unit was separated from the IPTE group at the beginning of 2010 and sold off to the IPTE founders and managers Huub Baren and Vladimir Dobosch. Since then, the company has been operating under the name of IPTE Factory Automation (FA). IPTE FA has installed a large global sales and service organization for its customers, with more than 15 sites in Europe, the Americas and Asia.
In the business of equipment for factory automation and production machinery IPTE FA is certainly one of the market leaders. The corporation designs turn-key automation systems for the industrial areas of manufacturing, testing and processing PCBs and loaded printed-board assemblies, as well as for final assembly and testing of electronics, electrical and other highly sophisticated devices. In total, IPTE FA now runs twelve engineering and production locations in Belgium, Germany, France, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, Estonia, Romania and China. Customers include many renowned manufacturers of telecommunication and consumer electronics, industrial and automotive electronics, and in the vehicle-subcontracting businesses, assembly technology and processing industries. Corporations such as Autoliv, Bosch, Continental, Delphi, Ericsson, Hella, Jabil, Johnson Controls, Lear, Leoni, Siemens, TE Connectivity, TechniSat, TP Vision, TRW, Vaillant, Valeo, Visteon and Yazaki all appear on IPTE FA's list of references.
The center of IPTE's business activities originally consisting of Europe was extended into the US in 1997, with the important Asian region added in 2002. Offices have also been opened right in the middle of the Chinese centers of electronics industry, in Shenzen (region of Hong Kong) and in Shanghai. The business outside of Europe has increased to more than 20 percent of total financial turnover and has therefore increasing significance for IPTE FA. As a consequence, the company has doubled its sales figures in the markets of China and Mexico. And in Brazil the corporation opened another IPTE Service Center in 2011 in order to offer even more support for the customers in this region. IPTE FA's main sites are located in Belgium, France and Germany. Specific to Genk/Belgium are the following equipment and services: turnkey solutions for the automated PCB test, automation equipment for in-circuit and functional tests, modules for board handling - including all types of PCB handling units, transport and buffering/interim storage devices - and the configuration of production lines, as well as customized test and application engineering tasks.
At the company's facility in Heroldsberg, Germany, located in the Nuremberg metropolitan region, depaneling equipment, insertion/placement machines for odd-form components, and manufacturing and assembly cells for customized production lines are engineered and manufactured. Product design and prototyping are the additional responsibilities of this site. The IPTE-Platzgummer GmbH in Karlsfeld/Munich is operationally incorporated into the Heroldsberg administration. Their main area of activities lies within the design and construction of customer-specific assembly systems. The international clientele is mainly made up of the car industry and their subcontracting partners.
Produced in France are contacting appliances/fixtures and special mechanical adapter devices which secure the board position in test equipment. The principal office of the Prodel Automation Group, acquired by IPTE in 2003, is also based in France. Mechanical automation and the appropriate test applications are primarily Prodel business activities.
There are relatively new engineering and manufacturing centers in Portugal, China and Mexico. In these regions, the complete portfolio of equipment and the full range of products and services have been available for a couple of years.
In the beginning, the expansion of IPTE NV was characterized by the tremendously fast growth of the business. Having created revenues of just 0.8 million euros back in 1993, the sales volumes practically doubled every year in the early days, achieved both by the corporation's own outstanding efforts and by the deliberate acquisitions of small companies to integrate into the successfully operating group. Later, however, a generally weak market and primarily very low market demand in the areas of telecommunications and personal computers led to a significant slow down in sales at the turn of the millennium. The opening of the sales and support offices in China as well as the extension of a presence in Asia and the Americas are safeguarding the corporation's further growth now.
IPTE Factory Automation (FA) closed the 2011 business year with an amazing increase in revenues of up to 77 million euros (plus 35 percent). The business plan budgeted for some 65 million though. Since the company relaunch after the management buy-out of March 1, 2010, IPTE FA has always achieved positive operating results.