Sumitomo Electric has a long and rich history. It was founded in the 17th century by Masatomo Sumitomo, started working with his brother-in-law. Their copper refining technology laid the foundation of what Sumitomo Group does today. Christophe Cugge, General Manager of the Dutch laboratory, still sees Masatomo’s heritage reflected in the company.
The influence of Masatomo Sumitomo was one of the main reasons why Christophe wanted to work for Sumitomo Electric. “Sumitomo Electric was officially founded in 1897, but the company culture is largely based upon the teachings of Masatomo Sumitomo. Everyone working for the company is asked to do their best, at their job and beyond. Personal growth is just as important. In my experience, this is something you do not see often in larger corporations.”
Some things have changed over the course of the centuries. The focus of the company has shifted since the days of the first copper refinery. Christophe: “At Sumitomo Electric, our Sumitomo Electron Devices. Division’s main focus is the development and production of amplifiers for 5G base stations and towers.” Both in urban areas and in the countryside, these towers keep smartphones connected to the internet. “Where Wi-Fi only transmits a few milliwatts, our amplifiers can transmit 60 watts, sometimes more. That means the reach of these antennas is much wider, sometimes more than 10 kilometres.”
Sumitomo Electric’s products are highly technical in nature. “We use semiconductor dies and bond wires; and need high precision equipment to produce them. The height, shape and length of the bond wires inside transistors need to be exactly right, to allow the amplifier to work as efficiently as possible.”
Meeting in the middle
Sumitomo Electric’s new lab in Nijmegen, located at the Novio Tech Campus, is not used for production of these transistors. “We produce the components in Japan. Our Nijmegen location is focused on customer support. Our European HQ is in the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands were a logical choice because it is only a short flight away. At the campus, we are surrounded by our competitors. That is both a risk and an opportunity!”
Christophe explains that Sumitomo Electric have been planning their site for over a year now, and kicked off real activities in September. “In my eyes, this site has a lot of potential. The relationship with customers is very important for the whole company. Here, we are very close to them, which means we are able to support them more easily.” The company serves customers all over Europe, which makes Nijmegen a logical central location.
Taking care of future needs
Sumitomo Electric’s Electron Devices division develops components for amplifiers, and their customers deploy cellular networks for customers such as KPN. “Years before our technology is used, our customers make roadmaps for the development of their future products. By having our offices nearby, we can be in contact with them during this initial phase. That makes it easier for us to anticipate their future needs, which is necessary because developing new technologies takes a lot of time. By staying on top of the needs of our customers, we can keep up and deliver the products that will be employed in years to come.”
“Our location in Nijmegen is perfect for that purpose. We are surrounded by knowledge and close to our customers. That is a great combination.”