Kelly Wu, President & CEO, Clientron, expects 2019 to be a fruitful year for Clientron in the automotive electronics market Clientron is actually benefiting from rising US-China trade tensions. Its orders from the US market are bucking the trend, enjoying growth rather than suffering loss. Clientron's brand customers based in Europe have been exerting efforts toward the US market over recent years and are reaping positive results. Clientron, as their supply chain partner, ships the products from its Taiwan factories. Therefore the products are not subject to the US tariff hike and Clientron's customers can keep costs at bay and gain ground in the US market. "As their competitors suffer rising costs due to the tariff hike, Clientron's customers are ramping up their US operations and thus increasing their orders to Clientron," says Kelly Wu, President & CEO, Clientron.
As a result, Clientron experienced a large increase in orders in the third quarter, which is traditionally a slow season. The company expects the prosperity to continue through the fourth quarter and amount of orders in January 2019 will set a new record in the company's history.
Making big moves toward the automotive electronics sector
Clientron will be making leaping advances toward the automotive electronics sector in 2019. Wu comments, "Clientron is able to speed up expansion into the automotive electronics market through strategic planning and direct communication between Clientron's and automotive customers' high-level executives." Clientron's revenue from automotive electronics in 2019 will double from its 2018 level. Revenue from this sector accounts for about 10% of Clientron's total revenue.
It is noteworthy that Clientron's operation in the automotive electronics sector has been focusing on multimedia navigation systems and in-vehicle infotainment systems used mostly in commercial vehicles. However, the company has recently received orders for digital driver instrument cluster systems for private vehicles. Its client base has also expanded from makers of fossil fuel vehicles to include makers of new energy electric vehicles.
Furthermore, Clientron also engages in a development project of an in-vehicle infotainment system that combines a central control console system with digital multi-touch display. "This is a product combo with a high-end price and a high technological barrier. We have devoted tremendous R&D resources and are thrilled to have achieved great success. Volume production and shipment are expected for the first quarter of 2019," indicates Wu. "After overcoming the high barrier and beginning to supply the high-end product, Clientron will follow up by providing mid- and low-end versions with more market demand. We will also make active efforts toward the automotive electronics market in China. Going forward, by strengthening collaborations with industry partners, government agencies, research organizations and academic institutions and engaging in product R&D centered on multi-display interactive smart driving solutions, Clientron strives for total customer satisfaction and co-works with customers to transition into the IoV era."
Interactive 'three-displays, one-instrument' solutions to be unveiled
As part of its endeavors toward the automotive electronics sector, Clientron has successfully developed interactive "three-display, one-instrument + ADAS " software-hardware-integrated solutions through joint efforts with customers. The "three displays" here refer to the in-vehicle infotainment system, driver instrument cluster and digital console cluster. The "one instrument" refers to the vehicle travelling data recorder. They enable multi-display interactions as well as smart interconnections via CAN communication and work in conjunction with the advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) in the vehicle to create a diverse and safe intelligent driving experience. Sampling and full-scale demonstration will be available in the second half of 2019. These achievements will enhance Clientron's ability to satisfy high-level requirements by makers of commercial vehicles. "Clientron will be able to extend our lead and break free from price-cutting competitions," Wu emphasizes.
Having dedicated time and efforts in the automotive electronics sector for many years, Clientron actually obtained IATF ISO/ TS16949 certification as early as 2004. It completed the renewal process in 2018 and was awarded the IATF 16949 certificate for quality management systems in the automotive industry. Clientron has established itself as one of Taiwan's few tier-1 suppliers of factory-installed automotive electronics. Furthermore, with experiences working with world-leading automakers including General Motors and Ford, Clientron's Xiamen factory is GM-certified and compliant with multiple automotive standards. To prepare itself for future increases in orders for automotive electronics, Clientron is not only recruiting talent specializing in R&D, manufacturing and testing but also upgrading its factory equipment in an attempt to capture growth opportunities in the coming year.
Going forward, Wu is confident that Clientron will be able to ride the growing trend of electric vehicles in China and make significant advances in the automotive electronics sector. Calling on Taiwan-based automotive electronics makers, Wu says, "We welcome any collaboration opportunity, through which Clientron and partners can expand into the electric vehicle market together with enormous growth potential."
Products are designed with customer needs in mind
As the year 2018 comes to a close, Wu checks on Clientron's achievements and comments, "Clientron's net profit has far exceeded previous forecast. This is because we are able to more precisely plan our R&D projects and fully grasp customers' needs and preferences on product spec, function and design." For example, Clientron's new thin client is developed based on the Raspberry Pi3 B+ platform with suitable I/O interfaces to accommodate more developers' needs and enable low-cost options for wide-ranging industrial applications. Moreover, with a lightweight casing design, the new thin client S-Cube Pi 3 B+ received positive reviews and big orders were coming in soon after samples were made available.
Among Clientron's embedded computing line, the IT900 multi-functional fanless embedded system, combining innovative development, flexible design and premium quality control, again received the Taiwan Excellence Award for 2019. Clientron also has good news for it point-of-sale (POS) systems in 2018. "On top of securing market presence and enjoying brisk sales in Europe, Clientron is able to make breakthroughs in its operations in the US market. We expect to penetrate into the American hospitality industry as well as retail market," indicates Wu. Clientron's strategies for product R&D, market expansion and customer services will converge to become more centered on thin clients and embedded systems including POS, IPC and automotive electronics that it specializes in. Aside from making efforts to secure its current market position, Clientron will also engage in collaborations with industry partners, government agencies, research organizations and academic institutions in an attempt to expand into new market segments. All these endeavors will contribute to revenue growth for Clientron in 2019.