Werner Schairer - Consultant
Professional Life
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© 2013 Werner Schairer

Werner Schairer

Professional Life

Summary: Werner Schairer studied physics and received an IBM fellowship right after his PHD thesis. In 1974 he joined AEG Telefunken in Heilbronn. From the beginning he was engaged in research and development of opto-electronic components of all kinds. Examples are LEDs, IREDs, glass fibre transmission systems, lasers, detector diodes, opto-isolators, sensors, and remote controls. A major part of the research projects was supported by the German government (BMFT). He started as project manager and later became head of development with more than 50 people reporting to him. Mainly during this period he published more than 30 scientific and technical papers. In 1994 the idea surfaced to use IR radiation as a communication medium, and an organization called IrDA was founded to create a suitable international standard. Telefunken became a worldwide market leader with these newly developed transceiver devices. In 1999 Vishay acquired Telefunken and soon Werner Schairer became Vice President of a business division dedicated to IR communication. In this position, with profit and loss responsibility, he created an extremely successful and profitable business. In 2001 Werner Schairer decided to become an independent consultant in IR technology and communications. He applied in his career for more than 30 patents and some of the patents granted protect a yearly sales volume of over 10 million $.

Werner Schairer started his professional life after his diploma thesis in physics in 1966 as a scientific assistant with Professor Hans-Joachim Queisser at the University of Frankfurt / Germany. It was then that his interest in the investigation of III-V-compounds started. The method of choice was photo luminescence and the preferred material was GaAs. Right after his doctoral thesis (PHD) he received an IBM fellowship for the central research institute in Yorktown Heights / NY. During more than 1 year he expanded his experimental know how by methods of uniaxial stress to investigate the luminescence of impurities in GaP and other III-V-compounds. In 1972 he returned to the newly founded Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart / Germany.

In 1974 Werner Schairer joined AEG-Telefunken Semiconductors in Heilbronn / Germany. In this location he stayed for more than 25 years, steadily extending his responsibilities. As the ownership of AEG-Telefunken changed many times, his career at the same location was never boring, but offered the chance to study in-depth different company cultures and management styles. The parent companies were all well known, specifically AEG, UTC (United Technologies Corporation), DaimlerChrysler, and Vishay Intertechnology.

The complete spectrum of opto-electronic devices of Telefunken was newly developed or redesigned from scratch under the guidance of Werner Schairer. He acquired during that achievement not only an in-depth knowledge of physics and technology of opto-electronic semiconductor devices, but learned also how to lead successfully a large team of dedicated professionals, fostering at the same time communication among the team and creativity of individuals.

Over many years Telefunken took advantage of the research support programs of the German Government, managed by the BM FT (Bundesminister für Forschung und Technologie) and later by the European organizations. By leading or supervising many projects, Werner Schairer gained experience in all facets of project acquization, communication with government organizations and representatives, as well as successful project management and reporting. Over many years research and development schedules for internal and external reports were created and followed with scrutiny.

 

Before the company was taken over by Vishay, Werner Schairer was enthusiastically engaged in research and development. He started as project manager for opto-electronic glass fibre transmission, expanded his responsibilities steadily, and reached the position of head of development, with more than 50 people reporting to him. He acquired a broad range of knowledge in short distance fibre transmission, semiconductor opto-electronics, semicon-ductor production techniques, and the fully automatic assembly of opto-electronic devices. Examples for devices successfully introduced into the market are LEDs and IREDs (Infra Red Emitting Diodes) based on III-V- compounds, integrated light emitting diode arrays, semiconductor lasers, detector diodes based on Silicon, integrated circuits combined with detector diodes, opto-isolators, opto sensors and last but very important remote controls for TV sets and other equipment. At Telefunken, development did not mean development of proto types or pre-series devices, but included the full large scale production process from the basic material to the chips, assembly, and in many cases to hybrid integrated modules. Experience was gained specifically in III-V epitaxy, wafer processing, opto-electronic testing and characterization, mounting, wire bonding, moulding and casting, device qualification and quality controlling.

Werner Schairer was the main support for the marketing group, not only through his technological know-how basis, but even more so through his emphasize on customer contacts. He always was enthusiastic about learning from the customer. By contacting customers he tried to explore there wishes for future device generations, their production plans, but also their quality judgement of the running deliveries comprising function, reliability and comparison with competition.

 

The ever increasing reliability and functional quality expected by the customer wasn’t achieved without set-backs. Werner Schairer supported the sales and quality departments in many quality oriented negotiations with leading customers. He became an accepted expert in dealing with the customer, finding basic causes of problems and consequently solutions for issues related to quality, on-time delivery, or sudden ramping up or down of orders. During these contacts he acquired a detailed knowledge of markets, sales volumes, market trends, and strengths and weaknesses of the competition. As the market of opto-electronics is a globalized market since a long time, market always meant world market and customers were located worldwide, necessitating worldwide travelling and increasing in this way inter-cultural competence.

During his research oriented time Werner Schairer published more than 30 papers in scientific and technical journals.

In 1982 UTC had bought a 50 % share of Telefunken from AEG and emphasized specifically high tech developments. However, after the continuing erosion of the financial position of AEG, UTC lost its interest in this investment. Meanwhile AEG was overtaken by Daimler Benz, the famous car maker, and Telefunken got in 1986 the chance to slide from UTC under the safe shelter of Daimler Benz. Daimler Benz decided in 1992 to unite all its electronic activities under the umbrella of a newly founded company called TEMIC, a reminiscence of Telefunken Micro Electronics. The idea behind this reorganization was to secure the support of a strong electronics group which had to serve not only the automotive electronics needs of Daimler Benz, but had also to compete on the world market with the best electronics companies worldwide.

 

Around that time, in 1994, a new idea emerged of a universal high data rate communication standard via Infra Red (IR) radiation. A task force supported by leading companies like HP, IBM, TEMIC and others was formed and named Infra Red Data Association, IrDA. Within a short time it created the first edition of its universal communication standard for 115 kbit/s. Later editions lead to data rates up to 16 Mbit/s.

Even with the standardization effort still on-going, TEMIC founded a development group for IrDA compatible communication devices. Werner Schairer headed this group and hired the best experts from the highly successful remote control department. Already in 1995, after an extremely short development cycle, the first product was put on the market. After its out-standing market success combined with high profitability, Werner Schairer concentrated his activities on this new product range and became later, after Vishay in 1999 had acquired TEMIC, Vice President of a newly founded business unit named Infra Red Data Communication, IRDC. In this new position – combined with responsibility for profit and loss – his focus changed from research and development to marketing, production planning, logistics, cost control, short, the complete process chain of a self-dependent business unit. He had to cope with increased competition last but not least caused by rapid product innovations and totally new product generations. Specifically under the auspices of Vishay he learned to use and appreciate the highly developed control and reporting tools of this particular company.

Development and production ramp-up of these newly created IrDA devices was an extremely successful example of parallel engineering. When the development started, the first edition of the IrDA standard was not yet completely fixed, potential key customers did not exactly know what they needed and there where no production lines, because the devices were absolutely new. Under the pressure of competing American and Japanese companies, and parallel to the development, future customers and the IrDA organization were regularly con-tacted, production lines were planned, the investment authorized, and the new production line implemented and qualified. Before the development of the first generation (SIR, 115 kbit/s) products was finished, Werner Schairer established a cooperation with IBM for the next generation devices (FIR, 4 Mbit/s). The outcome of this race of only 13 months for the first product was a photo finish between HP and TEMIC. But TEMIC had the larger production capacity in place and running and was the only company able to produce large quantities (8 mio/a for this first generation). Thanks to the far-sighted cooperation with IBM, TEMIC was, however, the first to put the next generation 4 Mbit/s products on the market. Many of these and following products had an outstanding market success, and were copied by competitors. Early adopters of IR communication and customers of TEMIC were Canon, Compaq, Dell, Ericsson, IBM, and Siemens among others. In spite of the time pressure the quality of the products was never compromised and as a result there were never major reclamations.

 

Market research studies proof that TEMIC and later Vishay were always first or second with these products in worldwide market share. The large scale production technique in combination with continuing cost reduction projects lead also to an extremely high profitability. This was reached in spite of permanent financial investment in production equipment and personnel investment in the development team. During his time as Vice President IRDC with Vishay, Werner Schairer achieved an outstanding profitability of his product unit. He learned to control the product unit in real time and continuously derived improvements for all business processes, like cost calculation, budget control and forecasting, quality monitoring, production planning and on-time delivery etc. All these controls and feed back mechanisms were implemented on a SAP R3 program.

In 2001 Werner Schairer decided – due to certain health problems – to stop his career with Vishay and to start a new activity as an independent Consultant for IR Technologies and Communications. You are invited to test his broad base of knowledge and take advantage of his long standing experience.

The creativity of Werner Schairer is documented last but not least in a List of Parents more than 30 patents and patent applications. Some of these patents protect a yearly sales volume of far more than 10 mio $.