43 years for Analog Devices

by Paul Fanning

Having been one of the first high-tech companies to set up a major European plant in the country, Analog Devices is a real Irish success story.

Few technology companies can claim as long or illustrious a presence in Ireland as Analog Devices. Having first established its plant in Limerick in 1976, it remains a fixture on the Irish technology scene.

Founded in 1965 Analog Devices Inc is a world leader in high performance signal processing and is synonymous with high performance and innovation among electronics manufacturers. Its diverse product portfolio covers Entertainment and Media, Industry and Aerospace, Medical Technology, Wireless and Automobiles Applications.

Analog Devices International (ADI) was one of the first US high-tech companies to establish a presence in Ireland. Now employing 1,200 people at its original and main Irish hub (in addition to 40 at its Cork facility), Analog Devices in Limerick is home to ADI’s European based Research and Development centre and a global operations manufacturing facility. The operations carried out in Ireland include Research & Development; sales and marketing; distribution; manufacturing and treasury.

A global leader in high-performance semiconductors for signal processing applications, Analog Devices has pivoted from being purely a component company to providing complete high-performance solutions that ‘sense, measure, interpret, power and connect’ across a wide variety of applications for industrial, healthcare, consumer, communications infrastructure and automotive electronics markets.

ADI’s Limerick facility has a great deal of local autonomy in product development. Access to R&D and highly skilled manufacturing and technological experts allows the Irish operation to develop and bring to market an average of 80 new products each year. Innovation is fostered through teamwork, both within the Irish operation and through cross-national research teams throughout Analog Devices globally.

In 2011, Analog announced a €50 million euro R&D investment at its Limerick facility that created more than 100 highly skilled jobs. The investment programme focused on the expansion of ADI’s robust R&D capabilities in Limerick. In fact, there has been a €50 million investment across 12,900m2 European Research and Development Centre in the last four years, included in which has been €40M invested in Cleanroom expansion.

This announcement built on the €23 million investment in Ireland made by ADI in June 2010 as part of a manufacturing expansion programme. Through this investment, ADI created highly skilled research, engineering, and development roles within the product, design, test, marketing and applications fields. The jobs created by this investment will cross the spectrum of these roles, serving the global markets of automotive, healthcare, industrial automation and communications.

Benefiting from having R&D and manufacturing divisions on one site, the Irish operation holds a formidable presence on the Irish and global technology scene for inventing technologies for the future. It also boasts a well-established record for engineering innovation and discovery with over 800 global patents granted to Analog’s inventors based in Ireland.

Investing in education across the Mid-West region since 1976, Analog Devices has earned a reputation for long-term retention of graduates and nurturing top talent many of whom have gone to other parts of the company in the US and around the world.

Attracting the best engineers is central to ADI’s ability to stay ‘ahead of what’s possible’, so the company has developed strong links with most third level institutions in Ireland and in particular with University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology. Indeed, the recently constructed innovative science and engineering building at UL is called the Analog Devices Building due to the ongoing support and collaboration between the two organisations.

The company plays a significant role in promoting awareness and engagement with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) amongst school going children. It is a gold partner of the BT Young Scientist Exhibition, is a key promoter of Limerick for Engineering and hosts various science and technology events including a Robotics day for primary schools as well as sponsoring scholarships at UI Limerick and the Limerick Institute of Technology.

With 630 engineers & 150 technicians centred on Innovation, R&D and advanced manufacturing, the site at Limerick’s Raheen Business Park combines more than 10,000 years’ experience. However, ADI’s influence on the Irish economy goes a great deal further than that. Last year alone, it cash spend in Ireland last year was €220M, while it has invested around €1.5 billion in capital infrastructure. It can also make the proud boast of being the single largest holder of US patents in Ireland with +500 granted, 6% of all US patents assigned to Irish address belong to ADI employees.

In addition to these, however, there is a clear focus on the fight against climate change. Indeed, as the company’s CEO Vince Roche puts it: “Climate change is an existential threat to our species let alone the world’s economies and businesses. As a 54-year-old company whose vision is to still be pioneering the future at 100, we are actively fighting climate change by delivering hyper-efficient, environmentally-focused technology solutions through operations designed to minimise our own environmental impact.”

This focus is very much reflected in the Limerick site, where 23% of the site area is vegetated, there are 21 dedicated car park spaces for car pooling, 12 electric vehicle charging points and 33 secure cycle storage spaces. In addition, the site has become 25%+ more efficient using high-efficiency lamps and reduced its water usage by 58% by collecting rainwater. Overall, this has meant the site now boasts close to zero net-impact in terms of carbon emissions.

In terms of technology, a key area for the group is in the field of autonomous transport. Here, its products have a key role to play in the provision of autonomous systems that are safe above all. Chris Jacobs, ADI’s Vice President Autonomous Transportation and Automotive Safety, says: “It all comes back to the safety of the systems. You may have heard of the concept of vision zero which is a multinational road safety mandate that there will be zero fatalities in or by an automobile. And overwhelmingly This is what drives us on a daily basis. We want to strive to a solution that leads to zero deaths.”

ADI’s role in this process will be at the higher levels of autonomy such as automatic emergency braking and steering. Says Jacobs: “Here the radar technology is actually implemented with what we call the inertial measurement unit, which manages the motion of the automobile to be able to steer it out of out of the way. This is an important step here because this is a fundamental implementation of sensor fusion where two types of sensors come together in some intelligent way to adequately steer the car out of the path of danger. This is a space where ADI has been developing these technologies for over 15 years in other application space is now bringing it down into the automotive space here to realise higher levels of autonomy and safety.”

Another recent innovation from the group is MeasureWare, a plug and play suite of hardware measurement kits and software studio tools to help fulfill the growing need for precision measurement across multiple industries including precision agriculture, machine health monitoring, electrochemistry and other areas requiring precise measurement. The introduction of MeasureWare marries ADI’s electronic engineering experience with those who require real-time data insights yet may lack the time or expertise to digest corresponding datasheets or do complex firmware development.

ADI’s MeasureWare solutions are built to interface devices with the world around them, allowing users to more effectively measure the datasets necessary to their respective projects, such as temperature, weight, humidity, pH, pressure, etc. MeasureWare also offers flexibility to adjust and change measurement parameters as a project evolves. These solutions are currently being applied across such diverse applications as bee health monitoring, industrial monitoring, beverage production and cold chain for medication.

“We created MeasureWare to provide precision measurement solutions to a growing customer base seeking to leverage the best of ADI’s technology without needing to become fluent in component and hardware specifications,” said Lorna Keane, Director of MeasureWare, Analog Devices. “With MeasureWare and our associated partner network, we support users throughout their entire measurement journey, with solutions that scale from idea to production.”

Analog Devices’ involvement in Irish manufacturing has been a long one and it has proved to be a pioneer among high-tech companies in investing in Ireland. And, with €3.5 billion in sales having come out of Lime

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