LACROIX Electronics

Article written by Sergiusz Sonnenfeld

What do you think of when you hear the word “automation”? Charlie Chaplin’s silent film comedy “Modern Times”? The great Ford T series launched in 1910? George Orwell’s science fiction or maybe Amazon’s connected warehouses?

These different representations in our collective imagination give us a (sometimes misleading) idea of what automation is. As Test and Automation Engineering Manager at LACROIX, I work on automation-related tasks every day.


For an industrial company like us, automation is characterized by all the techniques and processes that make it possible to automate repetitive actions with low added value on our production lines.

Sergiusz Sonnenfeld
Test Engineering & Automation Manager - Electronics activity of LACROIX

Automation for our customers, factories and employees

As you can see, the primary goal of automation is to improve our industrial performance, while freeing up time for our operators so that they can focus on more interesting and complex tasks. So, drudgery is reduced or even eliminated in some manual operations.

Obviously, the concept of competitiveness comes into play in this equation. The more competitive our production equipment is, the more attractive we will be to our customers. Increasing productivity and our ability to produce in large volumes is therefore key.

With digitalization, automation is one of the key pillars of our Smart Industry strategy, which we have been deploying in our production plants for several years.

Picture of a cobot used for X-ray counting machines
Cobot used for X-ray counting machines


Automation brings numerous benefits to customers

  1. A significant competitive edge: Automation effectively makes it possible to optimize production costs and thus envisage the relocation of large series in Europe and the bringing together of our factories with those of our customers (known as “nearshoring”).
  2. Enhanced production quality: Automation reduces the risk of errors that could be made by employees, particularly in operations requiring high precision. Here, reliability is key.
  3. Extended flexibility: In some cases, automation offers greater flexibility with regard to production rates and volumes. Production and delivery times are therefore shortened, providing customers with a better cost/quality/lead time ratio.

Know more about our SMART INDUSTRY strategy

The creation of a unit dedicated to automation

To meet the growing demands of our customers in terms of volume, precision and cost, we have set up a unit dedicated to automation. A new position has been created to coordinate these activities, the Group Automation Manager (my current job).

For over a year now, a cross-functional team distributed across the four countries where our production plants are located (France, Germany, Poland and Tunisia) has been experimenting with new processes day after day.

Organisation in this way enables us to increase our expertise in automation by creating an expert network comprising 10 people who are in constant contact with each other to discuss ongoing projects. Standardizing our automation processes is also an important aspect of our approach. Our customers, whether from the industrial, automotive, home automation or avionics sectors, must have access to the same production standards. Of course, we take the specificities of each plant into account.

Robots, cobots… Where are we with them?

Let’s look at robots first.

These are automated movement devices that enable objects to be manipulated. Operating in a closed environment, robots, whether fixed or mobile, are programmable and automatically controlled. Able to multitask, they offer numerous industrial applications and optimize cycle times and job productivity.


Picture of a high motion per­for­mance robot used in LACROIX plant
Example of robot used for loading and unloading testers in our plants


Then, there are the cobots.

These are collaborative robots that can be adapted to perform several handling activities in a single day. Equipped with safety sensors, they can work safely with operators. There is a difference between cohabitation and collaboration:

  • In cohabitation, the cobot operates in “co-proximity” with the operator. Each performs their task without direct interaction.
  • In collaboration, there is actual interaction between cobot and operator. For example, the cobot passes the product to the operator (or vice versa).

In addition to the robots and cobots present in our factories, we can also find AGVs for automated equipment transport and automated logistics systems (the automated store Exotec, for example).

On our side, we work with reputable suppliers such as Fanuc, Mitsubishi, MIR and Omron to deploy automation projects with the support of organisations such as We Network. Our robots and cobots respond to different use cases: handling, placement, soldering, screwing, assembly, integration, transport, etc.


Automation in key figures… 

Infographic : - 15 automation projects deployed - 400 hours dedicated to technical training and workshops - A 10-strong team distributed over four sites - 100 robots by 2025 - Several hundred employees working with cobots and robots


Family portrait of automated equipment

Weeboo: Cobot for loading and unloading reels on an X-ray counting machine

500 reels per day

Free loading by the operator

Internal/multi-customer use


Fanuc: Robot for loading and unloading testers, stripping press and packaging


Cycle time: 20 seconds

Industrial market


Timon : AGV (Automated Guided Vehicule), automatic extraction of finished products

300 jobs per week

50 km travelled per week



Omron : Automatic screwing

20,000 screws per week

Working in co-proximity with operators

Industrial market


Exotec : Automated warehouse fitted with the Skypod system

Structure measuring ~500 m2

6,720 containers stored on 21 levels

7 robots



Automated production line: Loading and unloading testers

Cycle time 8 seconds

25 product references

Home automation market


Integration: Automatic integration station

5 processes in one unit

48 products per hour

Automotive market


FCT tester: Handling of automated functional testers

2 testers and 1 screwing station

3 stations embedded in a system

150 products per hour

Automotive market


Soldering robot

5 seconds per soldering point

4 product references

Home automation market

Today, we systematically offer our customers projects that include automation. We are only at the beginning of automation and our ambition is high…




A few words about the author: Sergiusz Sonnenfeld

Passionate about new technologies, Sergiusz has worked for more than 20 years in LACROIX’s Electronics Activity at the Polish production plant located in Kwidzyn. He has held many positions, starting as a repair technician in the technical department. Today, he is both the Test Engineering & Automation Manager and Group Automation Manager