Solutions for Semiconductor Manufacturing Value Chain Interruptions for Northern California Fabs and OEMs
by Malik Durojaiye, on 12/7/21 9:00 AM
Semiconductors are extremely important to modern life and the global economy. They are necessary for a host of technologies and becoming essential across the globe. Some of the technologies using semiconductors are obvious—computers, smart phones, tablets, and cars. However, they are also extremely important in other technologies that are not as obvious. For instance, semiconductors are increasingly being used in kitchen appliances allowing ovens, refrigerators, and even microwaves to become “smart technology” that can automatically adjust to changing conditions and be controlled wirelessly. Unfortunately, there have been significant semiconductor manufacturing value chain interruptions which have resulted in production delays in a host of products.
For semiconductor fabricators (fabs) to mitigate these manufacturing delays, it is important to have a local vendor of high-quality components—such as gas distribution systems and hoses—that can allow for components needed for manufacturing to be quickly and seamlessly replaced.
The Impact of Semiconductor Manufacturing Interruptions
Natural disasters in areas with a large number of semiconductor plants (e.g.Taiwan and Texas) and Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), combined with the economic disruption from COVID-19, have resulted in significant interruptions within semiconductor manufacturing. These interruptions have rippled across America causing significant economic issues; over 1 million jobs in America are indirectly related to semiconductor production. Further, many industries that need semiconductors for production have been halted which has resulted in less sales of products. For instance, car production—which is highly dependent on semiconductors with over 3,000 semiconductors in modern cars—has been significantly limited. This economic damage trickles down from car manufacturers to car dealerships and car salespeople. Many other industries dependent on semiconductors are experiencing similar problems and damage throughout the economic supply chain. Overall, the delays in semiconductor fabrication are expected to cause a loss of over 20 billion dollars in America alone.
How Semiconductor Fabricators Can Combat Shortages
Semiconductor fabricators are facing many obstacles with regards to production. These obstacles include limitations on production plant components and supply chain shipping issues which have affected both receiving components for semiconductor production and for shipping out products. To combat these shortages, semiconductor fabs can take several measures; they can work with experts to make plans for future production, invest in high-quality components, and work with a local vendor.
Work With an Expert for Plans on Component Configuration and Production
Components for semiconductor operations include valves, gas distribution systems, and hoses. Understanding how these components seamlessly integrate is essential for efficient semiconductor fabrication. This is especially important as semiconductor production can be halted with just a small amount of contaminants entering the fabrication process. This process— which involves eight complicated steps of wafer processing, oxidation, photography, etching, film deposition, interconnection, testing the semiconductor, and finally packaging—can easily result in flaws to the finished semiconductor if not done properly. In addition, planning for how global supply chains, which can shift at a moment's notice, will affect production is imperative for semiconductor plants and OEMs.
Previous economic business plans of semiconductor fabrication and the industries utilizing semiconductors, have used the “just in time” business plan. This plan involved components such as semiconductor plant or OEM components arriving just in time for replacement. Though this cut down on inventory and was successful in the past, it became clear that this method was problematic when global supply issues and shipping issues arose. To avoid these issues, semiconductor fabricators should work with expert industry consultants to develop a plan to avoid semiconductor manufacturing value chain interruptions. A key aspect of that plan should be to invest in high-quality components that lead to safe and efficient operations.
Invest in High-Quality Components
When components wear out, they need to be replaced. Due to the delicate nature of semiconductor production (the environment needs to be completely sterile without any contaminants), components may take some time to replace. During this time, production will be halted. By investing in high-quality components, the frequency of replacing components will be limited and production delays will occur less often.
Partner with a Local Vendor
One of the best ways for a semiconductor manufacturer to deal with value chain interruptions is to partner with a local vendor. A local vendor will be able to quickly deliver replacement components when needed to limit production delays. Further, a local vendor will be able to provide consultation to develop a plan based on current needs and industry issues. As is clear from this year with production issues due to natural disasters, production needs can shift rapidly. Consulting with a local expert when these issues occur will allow semiconductor fabs to successfully navigate these changes.
Swagelok Supports the Semiconductor Manufacturing Value Chain
Swagelok is a local provider of not only production components but of expert advice to semiconductor plants and OEMs in Northern California. Swagelok can provide consultations to develop plans to deal with semiconductor manufacturing value chain interruptions. Further, they can suggest upgrades on current components. Finally, Swagelok can provide a range of options for components—such as gas distribution systems and hoses—that are of the highest quality and that will limit any contaminants from entering the system to maintain a completely sterile environment for semiconductor production.
About Malik Durojaiye | Field Engineer, Assembly Services
Malik Durojaiye began his Swagelok career in 2019 as a Custom Solutions Engineer in our Assembly Services group. Prior to Swagelok, Malik developed as a design engineer as well as a manufacturing engineer for 6 years serving Kentucky and California with Altec Industries; a leading provider of products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs, and contractor markets.