Chem­nitz micro­elec­tron­ics com­pa­ny GEMAC back on track

Five years after the process, the com­pa­ny wants to increas­ing­ly bring its own devel­op­ments of sen­sors and mea­sure­ment tech­nol­o­gy to the mar­ket. Recent­ly, how­ev­er, parts pro­cure­ment has been a source of concern.

Mitarbeiter René Ebert bestückt eine Anlage, in der Leiterplatten gefertigt werden. Die wiederum kommen in Sensoren und Diagnosegeräten zum Einsatz - der Schwerpunkt des Unternehmens GEMAC.

Employ­ee René Ebert assem­bles a sys­tem in which print­ed cir­cuit boards are man­u­fac­tured. These in turn are used in sen­sors and diag­nos­tic devices — the main focus of the GEMAC com­pa­ny. Pho­to: Andreas Seidel

When an exca­va­tor digs a pit, max­i­mum pre­ci­sion is required in the con­trol sys­tem. The per­son in the driver’s cab is respon­si­ble for this, but tech­nol­o­gy in the con­struc­tion machine also sig­nif­i­cant­ly sup­ports the con­trol: Spe­cial sen­sors pre­cise­ly record the move­ments of the machine, which allows, for exam­ple, the incli­na­tion of the vehi­cle or the posi­tion of the exca­va­tor buck­et to be deter­mined. On the one hand, this enables safe and pre­cise work, and on the oth­er, it paves the way for autonomous dri­ving or autonomous work­ing machines. It is pre­cise­ly these sen­sors that are devel­oped and man­u­fac­tured at GEMAC.

Gesellschaft für Mikroelek­tron­ikan­wen­dung Chem­nitz was found­ed in 1992 with twelve employ­ees from VEB Tex­ti­maelek­tron­ik and VEB Werkzeug­maschi­nenkom­bi­nat. The engi­neer­ing knowl­edge that thus flowed in ensured that the new com­pa­ny was able to devel­op well and employed 50 peo­ple by the end of the 1990s. The focus was on the design of cus­tomer-spe­cif­ic elec­tron­ic cir­cuits and the devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion of sil­i­con-based sen­sors. In the ear­ly 2000s, GEMAC ben­e­fit­ed from the increas­ing impor­tance of elec­tron­ics in cars and tar­get­ed dou­ble-dig­it mil­lion sales. Sev­er­al changes of own­er­ship fol­lowed, and in 2017, insol­ven­cy pro­ceed­ings. At that time, Robert Her­mann from Dres­den bought the com­pa­ny; he and Tilo Rothkirch man­age the busi­ness today.

In the mean­time, GEMAC has aligned itself on two pil­lars. As a ser­vice provider, the Chem­nitz-based com­pa­ny man­u­fac­tures com­po­nents and mod­ules for mea­sur­ing and med­ical tech­nol­o­gy, for exam­ple. This area cur­rent­ly still accounts for about two thirds of sales and is expect­ed to con­tin­ue to grow moderately.

The sec­ond main­stay is in-house devel­op­ments: On the one hand, there are the sen­sors that are used in con­struc­tion, agri­cul­tur­al and forestry machin­ery, for exam­ple. On the oth­er hand, mea­sur­ing and diag­nos­tic tech­nol­o­gy that can be used to iden­ti­fy the caus­es of faults in machines and ensure eco­nom­i­cal long-term use. The diag­nos­tic equip­ment is unique on the mar­ket due to its spe­cial mea­sur­ing tech­nol­o­gy, it says. Accord­ing to Rothkirch, the company’s own prod­ucts are to grow more strong­ly in the future and account for a larg­er share of sales.

Around 25,000 sen­sors leave the pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties at the Wan­der­er site every year. GEMAC moved into the ren­o­vat­ed indus­tri­al build­ing there a good 20 years ago; the com­pa­ny now owns it. The company’s own prod­ucts are sold pri­mar­i­ly to man­u­fac­tur­ers of large machines such as Ama­zone (agri­cul­tur­al machin­ery), Bauer (spe­cial civ­il engi­neer­ing equip­ment) and HSM (har­vesters).

After a pan­dem­ic-relat­ed decline in 2020, sales most recent­ly amount­ed to around nine mil­lion euros. It is expect­ed to grow fur­ther, as is the num­ber of employ­ees — cur­rent­ly 72, includ­ing twelve engi­neers. The foun­da­tion for this has been laid with good employ­ee know-how and invest­ments of around three mil­lion euros in pro­duc­tion tech­nol­o­gy over the past two years.

CEO Rothkirch is wor­ried about a pos­si­ble reces­sion — and the chip short­age. “We have been mas­sive­ly strug­gling with the pro­cure­ment of com­po­nents since 2021. We can’t achieve the sales we could because of a lack of parts,” says the 52-year-old. These dif­fi­cul­ties would prob­a­bly con­tin­ue next year.

Nev­er­the­less, pro­duc­tion at GEMAC takes place in two shifts. “Some­times we’re already scrap­ing by on the third shift,” says Rothkirch. For employ­ees in devel­op­ment and admin­is­tra­tion, how­ev­er, the com­pa­ny has tak­en a dif­fer­ent approach: a 35-hour week has been intro­duced for them in the inter­ests of a bet­ter work-life balance.

© Copy­right Chem­nitzer Ver­lag und Druck GmbH & Co. KG

Author: Ben­jamin Lummer

pub­lished on 13.10.2022 in „Freie Presse”