Renesas Electronics, a major semiconductor manufacturer, resumed production of semiconductors for automobiles at its main factory, which had been suspended due to the fire, in about a month.
Although it has resumed early due to the global shortage of semiconductors, the issue is how quickly the supply can be increased in order to reduce the impact of production cuts by automobile manufacturers.
Renesas Electronics stopped some production of semiconductors for automobiles due to a fire that burned manufacturing equipment at its Naka factory in Ibaraki prefecture on the 19th of last month.
With the global shortage of semiconductors, including those for automobiles, the company aimed for an early recovery with the support of automobile manufacturers, and resumed production on the 17th, about a month after the fire broke out.
However, it is expected that it will take several months for the shipment volume to return to the original level due to the time required for maintenance of some manufacturing equipment. The challenge is to increase the number quickly.
At Renesas, President Hidetoshi Shibata will meet online on the 19th to explain the outlook for production and supply.
Unusual support system of automobile manufacturers in the background
Behind the early resumption of production at Renesas Electronics' Naka factory, about a month after the fire, was the exceptional support system provided by automobile manufacturers.
Immediately after the fire broke out, support personnel were dispatched from the automobile manufacturers of our business partners to replace broken equipment and clean the soot.
The maximum number of people per day was 1,600, and they worked 24 hours a day.
Among the various semiconductors that Renesas handles, semiconductors called "microcomputers" for automobiles are important parts that control the movement of vehicles such as running, turning, and stopping, and occupy 30% of the world market share.
At the time of the fire, there was already concern about a global shortage of semiconductors, and there was a sense of crisis that if the production suspension of Renesas was prolonged, the automobile manufacturer could be forced to cut production significantly.
In addition, the factory that was shut down due to the fire this time received support from automobile manufacturers even when the operation was shut down due to the Great East Japan Earthquake.
At this time, engineers from Renesas and other manufacturers gathered in a large conference room every day to share information on the progress of restoration and problems, and adopted a mechanism called the "large room method". It was supposed to take 6 months to recover, but in reality it took 3 months, which is half of that.
Taking advantage of that experience, the large room system was adopted this time as well, leading to an early recovery.
A flood of orders at specialized trading companies
With the global shortage of semiconductors, trading companies specializing in the sale of semiconductor products are flooded with orders from manufacturers like never before.
A major semiconductor trading company headquartered in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, is focusing on online sales, and its site handles about 2 million types of semiconductors used in all fields such as home appliances, electronic devices, and automobiles.
It means that parts makers who could not procure a sufficient amount of semiconductors from their customers are using this company's site to make up for the shortfall.
Due to the global shortage of semiconductors, the company has increased orders since around December last year, and last month's sales increased by about 70% from the same month last year to a record high per month.
After Renesas Electronics partially stopped production due to a fire, there was a flood of orders for semiconductors made by Renesas and similar types of products.
At the warehouse in Nagano prefecture, where about 100,000 semiconductors are stored, we were able to handle orders that came in one after another, and there were piles of products waiting to be shipped in the space for packing work.
The company expects that demand for semiconductors will continue to grow, and plans to expand the warehouse area eight times over the next fiscal year.
Masanori Tozawa, president of the semiconductor trading company's core staff, said, "It's nice to see more shipments, but that's why problems are occurring all over Japan and around the world. I think that a company that has the power to keep products in stock will survive. "
New capital investment due to increased demand
In response to the global shortage of semiconductors, manufacturers of semiconductor manufacturing equipment are embarking on new capital investment in response to an increase in orders.
Of these, Tokyo Electron, the largest semiconductor manufacturing equipment company, is receiving more orders for manufacturing equipment from companies such as China and South Korea.
In order to meet the increasing demand, it announced last month that it will spend about 11 billion yen to build a development building in Yamanashi prefecture to develop new equipment.
In addition, KOKUSAI ELECTRIC has been receiving more orders for manufacturing equipment since the end of last year, and we are preparing to respond by increasing the operating rate of the factory in the future.