Self-driving robots and a digital kiosk where employees can order their lunch. The hypermodern European headquarters of Advantech in Eindhoven is more than a workplace; it is a showroom for the Internet of Things. The Taiwanese company has been active in Brabant for two decades. And when the old office became too small, it had no interest in leaving. "After all, this is the Silicon Valley of Europe."
Since its foundation in 1983, Advantech has become one of the world’s largest suppliers of digital platforms for manufacturing companies. From ATMs to factory machines and systems for digital patient registration in hospitals: the connected technology of Advantech can be found across a wide range of industries. With more than 8,000 employees, the company generated a turnover of US$ 1.6 billion in 2018.
Brabant has had a strong appeal to Taiwanese companies for many years. Roughly one third of the 200 Taiwanese companies in the Netherlands are based in Brabant.
When Jeff Shih - Advantech’s VP of Global Services - arrived in Brabant in 2004, he found it easy to settle in. "BOM helped me get up to speed quickly by sharing knowledge, for example about local labor laws and regulations,” Shih said. “What also helps is that everyone speaks English here. And I really enjoy all the green space in and around Eindhoven, which is in stark contrast with the densely populated urban areas in Taiwan.”
But Brabant is also a logical choice from a business perspective. Logistic advantages play a major role because of the proximity of major airports and the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. Another important factor is Eindhoven’s high-tech image and the availability of highly educated technical talent. Shih: "In the U.S., our service center is in Silicon Valley. Here we chose Eindhoven, the Silicon Valley of Europe."
When the old office became too small for Advantech’s growth ambitions, it was crystal clear to Shih that the company had to stay in Eindhoven. To disrupt the daily operations as little as possible, Advantech chose to expand and renew its existing building.
The renewed office opened in 2018. To showcase its many applications, Advantech's technology can be found in almost every corner of the building. A good example is the column with touchscreen in the lobby. Shih: "Every morning our people order lunch here. You scan your pass and then choose different delivery services. And when lunch arrives, you will automatically receive an e-mail."
Another example are the black robot carts that are constantly driving through the warehouse. Powered by RFID technology, they pick up finished products at the assembly line to deliver them to quality control - the last stop before transport to the customer. According to Shih, the technology in these carts will soon find its way into self-driving cars. "Our company motto is ‘Enabling an Intelligent Planet’. The Internet of Things makes all devices smart. This provides us with great growth opportunities in Europe, which we will capture from Brabant.”