Orla McCoy

Global Water Intelligence

ConstructionSupply ChainSustainabilityTalent Shortage

Facility 2.0: Are We Ready?

A summary of the Keynote Address delivered by Zac Rosenbaum, Facilities Director at Samsung Austin Semiconductor at UPM 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona.

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The chip shortage has been a constant and predominant focus of semiconductor industry coverage in recent years. The digital revolution is accelerating consumer demand for new technologies, and more microchips are required for a greater variety and complexity of applications. As such, semiconductor demand is at an all-time high.

The industry’s solution to the chip shortage and high demand for more advanced technological applications is to build numerous highly advanced facilities, in addition to expansions of mature sites. However, at UPM 2022, Zac Rosenbaum posed the important question: ‘Are We Ready?’ as he highlighted three major industry constraints which require groundbreaking solutions:

1. Innovative measures are needed for the unprecedented scale of global construction

Concurrent with the construction boom to meet chip demand, the semiconductor industry is facing unparalleled material scarcity, supply chain bottlenecks, and other restraints such as natural disasters, lockdowns, fab fires, and geopolitical tensions. Supply shortages range from basic materials of construction to specialized high purity materials which extend lead times of new tools.

At the same time, small nodes and advanced chip applications have increased facility complexity, construction, manufacturing and labor cost, and overall ramp-up time. All these factors together constrain the industry’s ability to scale-up.

Innovative construction methods must be encouraged and adopted to accelerate time-to-market and enable industry ramp-up.

2. Solving the skills shortage requires out-of-the-box thinking:

The semiconductor industry faces an acute skills shortage, for building new capacity and operating that additional capacity. The industry is emerging from a decade-long construction slowdown, so has lost many key people with the technical knowledge to construct new sites. There is a shortage of designers, project managers and skilled tradespeople, among other key roles. In addition, more advanced, complex fabs require more complex workforces – it is a challenge for semiconductor facilities to find staff with all the necessary training and skills.

The semiconductor industry needs to find methods of growing and retaining the workforce in the face of competition with other high-tech industries for the same people. As semiconductor manufacturing is grabbing attention in global news, the industry must seize the opportunity to broaden the funnel for attracting new entrants and demonstrating the value of semiconductor facilities management as a long-term career path.

The industry must focus on:

· University outreach and partnerships with educational institutions· Industry-led solutions and collaboration· Trade group partnerships· Government-led workforce development· Improving workforce diversity

3. Technological innovation is important for adhering to sustainability goals

Whilst the industry is making facilities which are bigger and more complex, chipmakers are making commitments to ensuring the facilities minimize their environmental footprint. Ambitious fab commitments may include net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, 100% reuse or recycling of water, 100% renewable energy usage, or zero waste to landfill.

Innovation must be encouraged and explored. For example, new water technologies are needed to advance reuse and recycling systems, and effort is needed to propel the viability of emerging abatement technology. Advancements in heat recovery and electrical heat sources are also important.

To meet environmental sustainability goals in the semiconductor industry, facilities should be at the forefront of investment.

Rosenbaum stated ‘now is the time and place to reinvent facility management’ – the industry cannot just make incremental changes to face these huge challenges. There must be a fundamental rethinking of the approaches and an upsurge in collaboration to meet the demands of Facility 2.0.

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