KEMET Electronics: looking towards a digital future

KEMET Electronics: looking towards a digital future

“KEMET Electronics is a leading manufacturer of capacitors, inductors, magnetics and various other passive components critical to circuit board assembly,” explains Chris Hall, the company’s Vice President of Global Information Technology. The company operates more than 23 manufacturing facilities and 33 sales offices worldwide, predominantly in Asia and North America. In the last fiscal year ending in March 2019, the company shipped an estimated 54 billion components to 188 countries and approximately 180,000 customers. KEMET components meet the needs of fast-moving market sectors including the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and the electrification of the powertrain and other systems in automotive.

As the company is celebrating its 100-year anniversary, Hall reflects on how far the business has come. “KEMET is very proud of its lineage of innovation and pushing the market and our industry into the next realm of innovation. In light of that, one thing we really try to be innovative about is how we use technology, which will drive our position going forward and make us the vendor with whom everyone wants to do business with because of our ability to deliver. We want to be the emotional favorite of our customers; even if we’re not the lowest price. This mindset is reflected by KEMET’s mantras: ‘Easy to Design In’ and ‘Easy to Buy From’, the foundation of the company’s strategy.”

Hall joined KEMET in December 2017 to drive the technical transformation required to ensure the company comes out on top as the ‘emotional favorite’ of its customers. He made a point to say it was his role to insure IT was aligned with and supporting the overall business strategy. In order to meet this goal, technologies have been introduced to improve efficiency, productivity, flexibility and quality to support the business into the future. “Digital transformation is bringing us into the 21st century and enabling us to not only catch up with digital change, but leapfrog into the future and take the lead,” Hall explains. “We’ve become more agile, and this has allowed us to respond to and complete projects in hours or days rather than weeks and months. We’re able to delight the business with technical capabilities; IT is becoming easier to buy from.” The company has also seen the benefit of mitigated costs as a result of its digital transformation strategy. “The goal is to utilize technology’s ability to help manage capacity and make it more visible in real-time. This will enable the company to be more productive and improve quality.”

KEMET is also working to ensure it better harnesses its data: “It’s no secret that, in order to be a digital company, you’ve got to be able to capture, harness and analyze data and use it to make decisions as near real-time as possible.” Concurrently, KEMET is researching ways to use data to drive a lot of its projects; striving to find ways to operationalize broad, enterprise-wide artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects.

“As KEMET looks to the future, we know that secure, pervasive mobility and IoT technologies will be key to maintaining our position as the preferred global supplier of electronic component solutions for customers demanding the highest standards of quality, delivery and service,” reveals Hall. “The new smart, stable and secure wireless infrastructure from Aruba, which we’re deploying in more than 50 locations globally, will allow us to leverage gigabit wireless connectivity to streamline operations, support enhanced collaboration and innovations in customer service as well as being prepared for technological advances.” By utilizing Aruba Central and ClearPass Policy Manager, KEMET can unify network operations and assure a security platform that simplifies the deployment, management and service assurance of its wired and wireless environments through a single pane of glass. Similar to Aruba enabling its LAN for the future, the company’s partnership with Open Systems is revolutionizing its ability to ensure QoS throughout its WAN and provide the needed performance levels users expect of the cloud. These partnerships in KEMET’s new infrastructure will allow the company to build upon its 100-year tradition of enabling some of the most significant technological advances in history and continue driving toward our goal of being the reliable partner our business needs.

KEMET has also worked with Sirius to help with local area networks (LAN) upgrades in order to transport data from individual test devices to clients’ machines. The company must certify the data is appropriately monitored and traffic is segregated, enabling quality performance of services that are necessary to drive enterprise-grade IoT projects. “It’s very important that we get the infrastructure foundation of our digital transformation correct,” says Hall. “However, as well as infrastructure, we must also address how we actually move data and make it available to disparate applications, including AI. This is where Software AG comes in – the company is the information highway through which all that data integration is going to happen. Whether it’s collecting data from our shop floor, pulling in data from our ERP systems, or being able to utilize data coming in from customers and vendors, it must be reliable. Software AG’s Webmethods platform gives us the ability to work in real time.”

As the company continues towards its digital future, Hall reveals what to expect: “For a century, KEMET has redefined the possibilities of electronics and we will continue to do so for our next 100 years. With the explosion of devices, our products and ​solutions will fuel the technologies and industries of tomorrow.” As one of the world’s most trusted partners for innovative component solutions, KEMET will be at the forefront of the manufacturing industry’s digital revolution. “Leading into the future and the next five years, we have a continued focus on our mission in making the world a better, safer and more connected place to live,” he adds. “This will be achieved through our technologies and materials science – these will be critical in redefining industries, such as the electrification of automotive, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Industrial Automation, AI and alternative energy technologies. I’m privileged to be part of KEMET, and excited to lead the digital transformation that’s being prioritized to make this vision possible.”

Chris Hall