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Murata lays out IoT plans

Posted: 29 May 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:MEMS? Internet of Things? 150mm diameter wafers?

This suggests that rather than expand into 200-mm wafer processing in Vantaa the company is more likely to work with one of the mainstream IC foundries, such as GlobalFoundries Inc. or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. that have fabs in southeast Asia, and who are eager to expand into MEMS production.

IoT is popular in China and Japan
What is Murata's approach to developing countries such as China, India?

"We have two factories in China, one in Wuxi and one in Shenzhen, making MLCCS and wireless communications modules and power supplies." Murata goes on to indicate that China has become the world's electronics factory, stating that 50 percent of all of Murata's production is shipped to China for assembly into equipment. That equipment then goes all over the world. He adds that Murata is starting to develop design functions in China for power supplies and wireless communications modules.

However, some 80 percent of Murata's production is in Japan while 85 percent of sales are outside of Japan, which makes the company sensitive to exchange rates, Murata said. "So we try to encourage production outside Japan; in China, Thailand, Singapore." The next step is to open an MLCC factory in the Phillipines in 2013, he added.

So after MEMS will Murata continue to move up in complexity and into digital electronics and software?

"We have that capability," says Murata. "We acquired Sychip. They produce wireless communications modules based on the WiFi standard. They also have software capability for protocol for communications module. Using these kind of people we are trying to develop wireless sensor networks, which can be used in smart house; smart way to use electricity, lighting dimmers, air-conditioning, temperature monitoring."

Murata said this strategy links into the Internet of Things or IoT which is a popular topic, but particularly in China and Japan. "We're not sure how soon this technology will be used in the market."

When asked why China and Japan are pursuing IoT so aggressively Murata responded: "One reason is the energy crisis in Japan. We have shut down all the nuclear plants. And in China the demand for electricity is increasing very rapidly and they face environmental issues."

As a final question EE Times asked Murata about his company's approach to supporting startup companies that, because they are agile, can often be source of new technologies that electronics giants may then choose to acquire.

"We always watch the movement of technology. We want to know if new technology will displace some of our business. We always watch those activities at new companies and amongst research people," Murata said, without mentioning funding startups.

"Acquisition is not the only way to extend our technology. We may collaborate in partnerships. We do some investment of funding for new development at companies and with universities."

- Peter Clarke
??EE Times


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