Comtronic is a subsidiary of an Italian industrial group supplying the civil and military aviation market with a wide range of high-tech products, including actuators, control levers, alarm systems, de-icing systems, anti-collision lights, cockpit instrumentation, data acquisition units, engine control systems, fuel gauging, maintenance and crash recorders and store management systems.
Based in Schönau near Heidelberg, Germany, Comtronic was founded as a component distributor in 1968. “Since then, we have developed into a leading provider of human-machine-interface solutions to the international aviation industry,” explains Ulrich Aderhold, Comtronic’s managing director, who has many years of aviation and aerospace experience from working for EADS and CAE before he joined Comtronic in 2012.
Today, the company has 2,000 m2 of state-of-the-art manufacturing space, 60 highly qualified employees and a strong focus on custom-engineered equipment for specific applications in the aircraft and defence sectors.
Comtronic covers the entire value chain, from electronic design and development to metal and plastic machining, laser cutting and surface treatment through to final assembly.
The main products of the high-tech company are control panels, custom-made LED displays, control warning systems and lights and signs.
Comtronic products are used in a wide variety of civil and military aircraft, such as the Airbus A310, A318-A340 and the military version A400M, various Eurocopter helicopters, the Dassault Falcon, the Tornado, the Boeing Apache, the F16 and many more.
Comtronic is especially strong in opto-electronics, electronics and software development. All control panels are designed, developed and manufactured in-house and tested according to all relevant specifications in the international aviation industry.
One of the main customers of Comtronic is Thales, a long-time partner of Airbus and the principal supplier of cockpit systems for the various Airbus platforms.
“The supply chain in the aviation sector is becoming more and more like in the automotive industry, with a large number of suppliers and sub-suppliers of various sizes and aircraft companies like Airbus concentrating on integrating the various components and assemblies,” says Mr. Aderhold.
Comtronic tries to be as close to its customers as possible and exhibits at various industry events throughout Europe, with the main ones being the ILA Berlin Air Show, Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors and the Paris Air Show.
Comtronic generates approximately 50% of its overall revenues abroad. “For us, the aviation industry is a genuinely European industry,” states Mr. Aderhold.
In recent years, Comtronic has developed in line with the fast evolving aviation sector, with above-average growth rates as compared to the aviation industry itself.
The company’s sustained success can be attributed to first-rate, reliable products that are custom-engineered to meet specific requirements in both civil and military applications.
“As a mall firm, we are very flexible in solving individual customer problems and providing perfectly tailored solutions,” Mr. Aderhold describes the key strength of Comtronic.
Quality in production and flexibility in meeting customer needs are joined by a broad portfolio of technology platforms and just-in-time delivery. “We supply just the product as required, at exactly the time required,” states Mr. Aderhold.
According to Ulrich Aderhold, the international aviation industry is continuing to grow: “We shall see annual growth rates of 5-10% in the next few years. At the same time, customer demands are continuing to develop, too. The trend is towards enhanced serial production by strong suppliers and sub-suppliers, like in the automotive sector. This means that competition will increase among suppliers. Price, however, is only one aspect in this growing competition. Product quality and on-time-delivery are just as important.”
To stay ahead of the competition, Comtronic is continuing to innovate and develop new, ground-breaking control and display technologies that will improve the human-machine interface aboard civil and military aircraft even further.
In the future, these will include advanced speech and touch control systems such as known from devices such as smartphones. “Sooner or later, these technologies will be integrated into modern aircraft”, concludes Ulrich Aderhold.