October 22, 2021

Japanese chip manufacturer for the automotive sector halts production month after factory fire

Japanese chip manufacturer Renesas has had to deal with a fire at its Naka Factory, near the town of Hitachinaka. As a result, production will stop for a month. According to the CEO, this will have a significant impact on deliveries to his customers, especially the automotive sector.

In an update, the company says there have been no casualties and that the building has not been damaged, but there has been damage to the water supply, air conditioning and certain production equipment. According to Renesas, the fire was caused by overvoltage, in which certain equipment caught fire because the outside was not resistant to the heat. How this could have happened is currently being investigated.

The burnt area covers 600 square meters, which takes up 5 percent of the clean room portion of the first floor of this N3 building. The company says two percent of its production equipment has been burned. The interior here needs to be cleaned and some equipment replaced as well. As a result, production has been halted here.

Production is expected to resume in a month. 300mm wafers were produced in this N3 building. The 200mm wafer production line in another building and wafer testing were not affected by the fire. Renesas says that about two-thirds of the products manufactured in the N3 building can also be made elsewhere by the company, but current global chip shortages mean that it is currently not possible to start right away. This has to do with a lack of reserve capacity, because as much capacity as possible is already being used.

Hidetoshi Shibata, the company’s CEO, said in a statement that the fire could significantly reduce the number of chips to its customers, the Japan Times reported . According to him, it could have a major impact on Renesas’ ability to supply chips to car manufacturers.

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According to the Financial Times , Shibata said that two-thirds of the affected production will actually be chips for the automotive sector. This sector has been suffering from global chip shortages for some time now.

Renesas was founded in 2010 through the merger of NEC Electronics and Renesas Technology, a joint venture of Hitachi and Mitsubishi. The Japanese company makes microcontrollers, among other things, but is also a major supplier of chips for the automotive sector worldwide.