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Fujitsu resumes pre-quake production level

Posted: 14 Jun 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Fujitsu recovery  Renesas recovery  Fujitsu Multi-Fab strategy 

Fujitsu Semiconductor has announced "full recovery to pre-quake production levels at all five plants" in the affected Tohoku region following the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit the country's north-eastern part.

In contrast, Renesas Electronics, which produces 40 per cent of the world's automotive MCUs, was hit hardest among Japanese chip vendors and has been slower to recover. Renesas announced in May a partial resumption of operations at its Naka plant on June 1. It expects to bring capacity of its production lines back to half of pre-quake levels by late July. The company plans to fully make up for the remaining 50 per cent of the Naka plant's capacity by producing more chips at other plants—some of which were also suspended after the quake but have since resumed operations—and outsourcing orders to other chipmakers.

Renesas now targets September for full supply restoration.

Aside from differences in the extent of damage to fabs, the gap in speed of recovery between these two companies stands out. A Fujitsu Semiconductor spokesman attributed much of the company's swift recovery to a "Multi-Fab" strategy installed after the company was struck by two earthquakes in Iwate prefecture three years ago.

Based on that experience, Fujitsu installed a system whereby other fabs located in different parts of the world can pick up the slack if one fab is struck by a disaster. The goal is to minimise delivery delays.

For example, after this year's tsunami, Fujitsu transferred 20 to 30 per cent of front-end product operations to its Mie plant in central Japan. Meanwhile, 20 to 30 per cent of back-end product operations went to Fujitsu Integrated Technology's Kyushu plant and to the Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics' plant in Jiangsu, China.

More specifically, Fujitsu's Mie plant—currently engaged in 65nm and 45nm process technologies using 300mm wafers—had been purposely prepared to handle 200mm and 150mm wafers used by Fujitsu's earthquake-damaged Iwate fab.

After the earthquake in 2008, Fujitsu also established what the company calls a Business Continuity Plan. Under the plan, front-end processing plants are set up to get lines running within seven days and back-end plants in three days, by restoring the supply of electricity, water and other utilities.

Other measures taken by Fujitsu include the installation of manufacturing equipment that can seismically isolate damage to wafers that are stacked up in a vertical furnace.

Meanwhile, because of the damage to power plants in the eastern part of the country, the Japanese government has set a target to cut electricity use by manufacturers by 15 per cent this summer, when demand normally picks up with air-conditioner usage. Japan's semiconductor sector, however, is exempt from the regulation.

- Junko Yoshida
  EE Times

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