Interview with Mr. Nenad Micic, manager of ICM Electronics, Serbia

Electronics InterviewSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 1/2012

We would like to establish stable partnerships at Romanian and Bulgarian market

Dear Mr. Micic, please present ICM Electronics as a company, history, scope of activity, product program, etc.
ICM Electronics was founded in 1994 in Vojvodina, North Serbia. Since its foundation, ICM was specialized in process automation, PLC programming and SCADA systems. Food industry is the major industry in Vojvodina. Due to this it was a primary target for ICM. In past 18 years, ICM automated hundreds of processes in the food industry. We deliver complete hardware, control cabinets, and software to our clients. ICM automated entire production processes in many companies. We noticed that packing processes are still done manually in most factories and we wanted to offer complete automation of entire factory. That is why we invested heavily in development of robotics program. ICM invested more than 1.5 million in robotics program and build a factory for production of various solutions. Now we offer complete picking, packing and palletizing solutions. Many companies from the metal industry liked our robotic solutions and requested robots for welding, plasma cutting, polishing, deburring. Our factory is equipped with machines for metal works, which we use for production of parts for our robot solutions. Our spare capacity we use for production of various tools and machinery, such as conveyor, gripping units, lifting machinery, etc. As a consequence, ICM has several divisions: PLC automation, Packing and Palletizing, Robotic solutions for metal works and Metal works.

Which are the main customer groups of ICM?
As I’ve already mentioned, our main customers come from the food industry. We’ve developed many picking solutions for confectionary industry and different packing solutions for all food industries.

ICM has many palletizing solutions for a number of industries. We have some solutions for palletizing bags in food, construction, chemical and some other industries. Also, production of bricks and blocks is a very interesting market for us and we have a lot of experience in this field.

Another industry that became very important for ICM is metal industry. ICM was not present much at this industry before. With development of robotic solutions, this segment captured a significant share of ICM’s income. We offer different solutions for MIG/MAG welding, TIG welding, polishing, deburring, machine and press tending. Also, we produce manual and automatic positioners for welding.

Where are your current main markets and what markets you are targeted at in near future?
Our main market is former Yugoslavia, mostly Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia. However, we had some very important and big projects in Russia, Libya and France where we had couple of installations. In Russia, ICM automated entire factory from very beginning to the very end. This project included integration of 12 lines, from which one has a robot. In Libya, ICM delivered vision systems for quality control for Philip Morris factory. In France, we installed few robots in cheese production.

In the near future we want to target countries in our neighborhood: Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary. We already have some activities at these markets. In Romania we started with marketing activities almost 10 years ago. In Hungary we just started with marketing activities and we are still in planning phase for Bulgaria. Also, we expect more activities at the French market. There are some French companies that realized big advantages working with ICM and outsourcing parts of their production to Serbia.

Please, present some of the new products in your industrial portfolio?
ICM invests a lot of time and money into development of new products. Some recent development was done for fast picking application. We developed a robot solution that can pick almost 300 products (cookies) per minute. Furthermore, we developed a very interesting application for welding. It is called adaptive welding. Basically, we have an intelligent robot which can detect where product is located, type of joint it needs to weld and it adjusts welding parameters automatically.

We have some developments that are not industry related. ICM developed a bomb squad robot for civil purposes. It is remotely controlled robot on a wheel platform developed for military and police purposes for reconnaissance missions. Operator controls robot remotely with a PC. The robot is equipped with wireless cameras and several different tools which can be monitored and controlled with the same PC.

Also, ICM is a member of flexWARE consortium. In past 3 years we developed first prototype of wireless Profinet platform. The same was tested for the first time in February 2012 and proved to be a stable system, but it still requires a lot of work before it can be released into the market.

How do you evaluate the present market situation in your field of activity?
There is a big demand for robotics and automation in general. However, robotic solutions are considered to be serious investments. Although there is a demand and big interest into robotics, not many companies decide to invest. There seems to be a big problem with cash flow and instable demand. There is a shortage of cash. These projects require a lot of knowledge and a lot of experience in order to be completed successfully. In our area, there are no many companies that can complete these projects and our competition comes mostly from Italy, Greece and Germany. In comparison to companies from EU, ICM is in a better position regarding manpower costs. We can do equally well as EU companies, but for less money.

What is your trade and marketing strategy for this year?
We have a lot of new developments and very good solutions. Our main aim for this and next year is to expand our markets, which means being more active on international markets. Primary aim is to get stable relationship with Romanian and Bulgarian markets which seem to be very similar to our market in former Yugoslavia. However, we plan to have major income from already existing market which we currently serve.