Renesas to restore full production output at fire-damaged factory in late May

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Renesas Electronics announced plans to bring the section of its Naka, Japan manufacturing facility back to full production capacity by the end of May. Last month, part of the complex sustained significant clean room damage and equipment losses due to an electrical fire.

Since the chipmaker is one of the world’s top automotive MCU providers, the fire prompted some leading vehicle corporations to reduce their output temporarily.

Fab Recovery Plans

On March 19, a fire broke out in the N3 building at Renesas’ Ibaraki-based component fabrication site. The blaze destroyed 23 pieces of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and contaminated over 6,400 square feet of industrial production space. In response, it relocated 70 percent of the site’s orders to other factories and worked to locate replacement machinery.

The company restarted the 300nm production line it shuttered in the aftermath of the electrical malfunction on April 17.

However, Renesas noted the facility would not resume its normal output right away. At present, it intends to bring it back to 30 percent capacity later this week and 50 percent output by the end of the month. It also ordered 17 chip fabrication machines that are set for delivery sometime in May. As it happens, the new equipment has greater manufacturing capability than the machinery it is replacing.

In addition, the firm installed CO2 fire extinguishers and dampeners in the plant to prevent future fire-related damage. Over the next two months, it will equip the factory with connected heat and smoke sensors to trigger the fire suppression system. The chipmaker also explained that it managed to outsource 98 percent of the building’s component orders.

Renesas hopes to begin shipping products made at its 300nm Naka production line in around 80 days.

The Impact of One Manufacturing Plant Fire

Under normal circumstances, the brief shuttering of one manufacturing facility might not cause ripples throughout the world electronic components industry. However, 2021 has already established itself as an unusual year for the semiconductor sector.

Since the global chip shortage began last year, the field has grappled with constrained foundry space and raw materials limitations. Because of the electronic part crisis, the temporary closure of Renesas’ N3 site has had an outsized impact on the auto industry.

According to Reuters, Nissan, Honda, and Toyota cut back on the vehicle assemblies because of the Naka plant fire.

Nissan furloughed 800 employees at its U.K. car factory earlier this month due to insufficient component supplies. The firm reduced its output because of the fire and unscheduled downtime at a Texas-based Samsung fab, reports Nikkei Asia. Traditionally, the Japanese corporation’s British site produces 550,000 automobiles every year.

Honda and Toyota also declared they needed to evaluate the impact of the Renesas facility fire would have on their operations last month. The vendors previously ramped down their car production in light of the part bottleneck.

IHS Market, a global information provider, recently estimated the component crunch would cost the automotive industry $60 billion this year. Based on current data, insiders expect the semiconductor shortage will last until 2022. But thanks to Renesas’ efficient crisis management, its clients can receive critical manufacturing supplies before year’s end.

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