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Quake unlinks fab tool supply chain

Posted: 17 Mar 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:semiconductor? equipment? supply chain? earthquake?

The semiconductor equipment supply chain has been affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Companies reporting damage include JSR, Nikon, TEL and SHE, saying that their silicon wafer plants were impacted. But some companies were only minimally damaged, including Advantest and DNS.

Nikon Corp. issued the following statement: ''Injury is reported to some of our group employees. We are currently continuing to gather safety information of our personnel and its family members.''

Several Nikon plants were hit by the quake. ''Our group companies, including Sendai Nikon Corp. (Natori Miyagi Pref.), Miyagi Nikon Precision Co. Ltd, (Zao-machi, Katta-gun, Miyagi Pref.), Tochigi Nikon Corp., (Otawara, Tochigi Pref.), Tochigi Nikon Precision Co. Ltd, (Otawara, Tochigi Pref.), and other subsidiaries as well as our plants suffered damage to some part of the equipment and buildings,'' according to Nikon.

''We are suspending operations there and continuing to evaluate further details of the damage. We are unable to announce how soon the operation will resume due to the regional interruption of life-lines although endeavor for restoration are under the way by some of our maintenance personnel,'' according to the company.

Sendai Nikon makes cameras, while Miyagi Nikon Precision manufactures devices for IC/LCD steppers and scanners. Tochigi Nikon manufactures interchangeable lenses and optical lenses.

''We are concentrated in evaluating how the immediate damage by the disaster and controlled interruption of electricity started from March 14 will result in our group companies and business performances. We will advise our findings immediately when it is revealed that the damage would further expand,'' according to Nikon.

Another vendor, Tokyo Electron Ltd (TEL), said it is ''close to being able to confirm that all of TEL's employees are safe, and is continuing to take all appropriate measures to fully assess the situation and ensure that all employees' family members are also safe.''

However, the quake impacted the company's plants in the region. ''Tokyo Electron Tohoku (Oshu City), Tokyo Electron AT (Matsushima City), and Tokyo Electron Technology Development Institute (Sendai City) have suspended operations in order to investigate potential damage to any facilities and assess how long it may take to resume operations,'' according to TEL. ''Tokyo Electron has enacted the company's emergency and business continuity plans to keep operations running as smoothly as possible.''

Another firm, Dainippon Screen Group, issued the following statement: ''The company confirms that all Screen's group's employees and their families in the affected area are safe and we are still under checking for the final confirmation.

''Regarding the company's facilities, the majority of the company's manufacturing facilities for semiconductor/flat panel display/printing equipment, located in Kyoto and Shiga prefectures in southwest Japan, have no damage, and all procurement for our production is under control. Therefore so far shipment of our products is not affected,'' according to DNS.

ATE vendor Advantest Corp. announced that it incurred minimal damage from the Northeast Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. The company's major domestic facilities resumed operation on Monday, March 14.

''Advantest Laboratories, an R&D facility located in Sendai, sustained no serious damage, based on currently available information. The company is presently seeking to confirm the safety of employees and their families in the area. No injuries or deaths were reported among employees elsewhere in the country as of today,'' according to the firm.

The following facilities resumed operation on Monday: the Gunma Factory Gunma Factory 2, and Gunma R&D Center, in Gunma Prefecture; and the Saitama R&D Center, in Saitama Prefecture. Advantest will make every effort to minimize the impact on operations and production schedules of the rolling blackouts the country is currently experiencing.

"Friday's earthquake was the most powerful quake to hit our nation in recorded history. Advantest extends heartfelt condolences to the families of those who perished in the earthquake and the tsunami, and to those who have lost their homes and livelihoods," said Haruo Matsuno, president and CEO of Advantest, in a statement.

The company has set up an emergency response headquarters and task team that is continuing to investigate the situation. All steps are being taken to ensure a swift and full recovery.

Advantest announced that it will donate 100 million yen (approximately US$1.2 million) for emergency aid to the victims of the Northeast Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and for reconstruction in the affected area.

On the materials side
Shin-Etsu Group issued the following statement: ''Among the Shin-Etsu Group's production sites where those operations stopped, safety inspections have been completed and operations have restarted at Shin-Etsu Chemical Gunma Complex (Annaka and Matsuida),'' according to the firm.

''However, operations at the Gunma Complex will be affected if the rolling blackout is implemented by the Tokyo Electric Power Company,'' according the company. ''Meanwhile, we are continuing necessary safety inspections at Shin-Etsu Chemical Kashima Plant (Kamisu, Ibaraki Pref.) and Shin-Etsu Handotai Shirakawa Plant (Nishigo Village,Fukushima Pref.).''

Three employees were ''slightly injured'' at Shin-Etsu Handotai's Shirakawa Plant. There were sent home after they received care at the hospitals, the company said.

''We will implement necessary inspections, and resume operation of the production facilities one by one when their safety confirmation measures have been completed. We will announce the updated information if any situation has changed,'' according to the firm.

JSR Corp. was also impacted. At JSR's Chiba Plant, located in Ichihara City, Chiba, ''the manufacturing facilities are currently under normal operations and no physical damages or personnel injuries/casualties have been observed. The adverse effects on our operations of the disasters in Chiba chemical complex and the limitations on the energy supply to be announced by Tokyo Electric Power Company are not confirmed, and will be disclosed once more information becomes available.''

At JSR's Kashima Plant, located in Kamisu City, Ibaragi, ''all manufacturing lines and manufacturing equipment were stopped by the automatic interlocks, which was triggered by the earthquake. The peripheral facilities were well-protected and no physical damages have been observed. However, this needs to be reconfirmed through physical inspections. The industrial water supply is interrupted and no information is available at the moment regarding when it will recover.''

Regarding personnel injuries, it has been confirmed that one JSR maintenance personnel suffered a minor injury during the repair work.

- Mark LaPedus
??EE Times

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