Tag Archives: Manufacturing

New US Semi Fab: Reality or Illusion?

Official talks on construction and operation of a new TSMC semiconductor chip manufacturing fab the in U.S. is promising but riddled with political and technical intrigue.
By John Blyler – Will the news of a new semiconductor fab on U.S. soil be a boost to the economy and technological stability or is it merely a fanciful political scheme? To answer that question, let’s start with the news that has created so much discussion in the electronics space.

Recently, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) announced its intention to build and operate an advanced 5nm semiconductor fab in the U.S. state of Arizona. TSMC, headquartered in Taiwan, is the largest chip manufacturer in the world. The company currently operates a fab in Camas, Washington and design centers in both Austin, Texas and San Jose, California. The Arizona facility would be TSMC’s second manufacturing site in the United States.

The new manufacturing plant would be supported with funds from Arizona and the U.S. government. The fab will have a 20,000 wafer-per-month capacity, create over 1,600 jobs directly and thousands more indirectly, explained the company in a press statement.

This by TSMC is welcomed in the U.S. but not without controversy. Shortly after the announcement of the new fab, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced new restrictions on TSMC’s second-largest customer, HiSilicon of China – which is fully owned by Huawei. Some industry experts feel that the two events are related to the issue of U.S. export control.

Here’s where the political side of the TSMC fab announcement begins to emerge. Huawei, already part of the US trade war with China, was recently placed under new and more stringent export control. On May 19, the Commerce Department issued new rules to more fully close off Huawei’s access to the semiconductor chips it needs to build cellphones and 5G infrastructure. This could conceivably block China’s big telecommunications company from entering the much desired global 5G mobile network space. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Energizing industrial manufacturing through active performance management
A new approach can help industrials gain greater visibility into performance and capture lasting gains.
By Ryan Fletcher, Kairat Kasymaliev, Abhijit Mahindroo, and Nick Santhanam – Along with its severe human toll, the spread of the coronavirus has exacerbated long-standing challenges in businesses worldwide. For industrial companies—especially those with high-mix, low-volume manufacturing—COVID-19 has increased the already-widespread problems with shop-floor productivity. As supply-chain disruptions affect shipment of critical parts, industrials are struggling to meet their promised customer delivery dates. Within plants, physical-distancing requirements and line closures are disturbing some workflows. These delays often prevent industrials from delivering critical products, including sanitization tools and other equipment to help their customers both fight and recover from the pandemic.

For many years, industrials have deployed lean levers and performance-management initiatives to improve productivity and expand margins. They usually achieved good initial results, but their gains frequently vanished or decreased as managers became distracted and employees returned to their old ways. Some industrials have also offshored production to reduce costs but then encountered substantial challenges and high start-up costs when they tried to replicate their capabilities and skills in new locations. With recent tariffs and travel disruptions creating unprecedented uncertainty, more businesses are considering reshoring production to increase their resilience and flexibility in the “next normal.” That makes manufacturing performance even more important.

A new approach to productivity—active performance management (APM)—may be more likely to deliver lasting gains than previous methods. It focuses on three areas where most current solutions fall short: real-time performance visibility, daily performance planning, and end-to-end accountability. When high-mix, low-volume industrials incorporate APM into their standard workflows, they typically improve productivity by 30 to 50 percent within eight to 12 weeks of deployment while simultaneously increasing on-time deliveries and unlocking additional capacity.

Surprisingly, many high-mix, low-volume manufacturing operations lack real-time visibility into performance. Instead, they review key performance indicators (KPIs) weekly or even monthly. This frequency may be enough to drive performance in high-volume environments, where variability is low and processes are predictable, but it is not well suited to the complexity of a high-mix factory.

Without real-time transparency, supervisors are unlikely to discuss and address issues until their impact has snowballed. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Coronavirus: Implications for the semiconductor industry
The coronavirus is shifting demand patterns for major semiconductor end markets. How will these changes ultimately affect the semiconductor industry, and how can leaders respond?
By Harald Bauer, Ondrej Burkacky, Peter Kenevan, Abhijit Mahindroo, and Mark Patel – Despite ongoing quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, and other stringent measures, COVID-19 has continued to spread. As deaths climb and the human toll mounts, leaders are focused on containing the virus and saving lives. In parallel, efforts are under way to mitigate the devastating economic consequences of COVID-19, which include business shutdowns, record unemployment, and unprecedented drops in gross domestic product (GDP) across many countries.

The semiconductor industry, which has historically been a major source of high-tech jobs, is among the many sectors that have had to adjust their production planning and operations as COVID-19 shifts demand for major semiconductor end applications. In addition to exploring the impact of such changes on semiconductor demand, this article provides insights about the industry’s evolution post-crisis and outlines how semiconductor leaders should prepare themselves for the next normal.

The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented in our time. While the recession during the financial crisis from 2007 to 2008 was driven by stagnating consumer demand, the COVID-19 situation induced a shock to both global demand and supply, creating a dual challenge. This unique phenomenon makes it difficult to extrapolate from past crises to make predictions.

Nevertheless, this article aims to provide guidance on how semiconductor demand will shift in the short- and mid-term—taking into account extensive surveys, research on the recovering Chinese market, and global GDP projections. Our GDP projections in this article are based on two of the nine scenarios that McKinsey developed for global GDP recovery, both of which assume that the spread of coronavirus is eventually controlled and catastrophic economic damage is avoided. In the first scenario, global GDP recovers in the fourth quarter of 2020; in the second, recovery is delayed until late 2022. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Digitalization takes off in aerospace
By Indrakanti Chakravarthy – When you think about it, the basic mechanics behind aviation has remained the same throughout the decades.

Whether you’re talking about the B-52 Bomber from the mid-1950s. …The Concord SST that whisked folks across the Atlantic. …Or even the much-loved NASA Space Shuttle program. So many wonderful examples of how humans have taken flight over the years.

And here’s the thing – generations of engineers for the past 50 years or so have designed and built aircraft using pretty much the same methods and disciplines.

But all that’s about to change…

Today, with digitalization and the use of the digital twin for aircraft design, development and manufacturing – we are seeing a major shift on how modern aircraft are being designed and built. For the first time ever, the future of flight is boundless. There is no horizon on what we can or cannot do. [VIDEO] more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Resilience in transport and logistics
The transportation-and-logistics sector is especially susceptible to economic shocks. Here’s how to prepare your operations for a smoother ride.
By Sal Arora, Wigbert Böhm, Kevin Dolan, Rebecca Gould, and Scott Mcconnell – The transportation-and-logistics (T&L) sector has benefitted from many of the most important business trends of the past half century. Globalization, the evolution of sophisticated just-in-time supply chains, and the rise of e-commerce have all helped the sector grow at a rate broadly similar to the overall economy.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Economic downturns tend to hit the sector particularly hard. Our analysis of the past five US recessions shows that T&L companies suffer more on average than the economy as a whole. And in recent cycles, the problem may have worsened. Truck transportation, for example, experienced little contraction in the recessions of 1980, 1982 and 1991. In 2001, by contrast, the industry shrank by 6 percent, and the 2008 recession triggered an 18 percent contraction.

As in all industries, sector averages don’t tell the whole story. Some companies ride out downturns much more successfully than others. When McKinsey analyzed the performance of around 1000 large, publicly traded companies through the 2007-2008 global recession, we identified a subgroup of “resilient” organizations that outperformed their peers by a significant margin over the cycle. The performance of these companies dipped less overall during the recession and improved faster during the ensuing economic recovery.

By 2017, resilient companies had delivered a cumulative total return to shareholders (TRS) that was more than 150 percent higher than their non-resilient counterparts. Among the logistics and transportation players in the study, the gap was even starker, at 267 percent. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Digitalization takes off in aerospace
By Indrakanti Chakravarthy – When you think about it, the basic mechanics behind aviation has remained the same throughout the decades.

Whether you’re talking about the B-52 Bomber from the mid-1950s. …The Concord SST that whisked folks across the Atlantic. …Or even the much-loved NASA Space Shuttle program. So many wonderful examples of how humans have taken flight over the years.

And here’s the thing – generations of engineers for the past 50 years or so have designed and built aircraft using pretty much the same methods and disciplines.

But all that’s about to change…

Today, with digitalization and the use of the digital twin for aircraft design, development and manufacturing – we are seeing a major shift on how modern aircraft are being designed and built. For the first time ever, the future of flight is boundless. There is no horizon on what we can or cannot do.

Take a look at our latest video below and you’ll see how Siemens is at the forefront of this new digital age. You’ll see how seamless integration of the latest tools and software up and down the value chain are freeing engineers to innovate with less risk. Whether you’re talking automation, simulation, integration of design and analysis tools, additive manufacturing or even artificial intelligence – Siemens has built a global reputation as the Aerospace and Defense partner you can trust. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Rocket Lab to use Siemens software to explore new frontiers of space
Siemens – Rocket Lab plans to implement Siemens hi-tech industrial software to help digitally manage the lifecycle needs of the business. The software is from the Xcelerator portfolio, which is from Siemens Digital Industries Software and includes Teamcenter®, the world’s most widely used digital lifecycle management software, and NX™ software for computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing.

This announcement comes as Rocket Lab prepares to integrate all its design, engineering and production systems to establish an end-to-end digital thread that enables increased transparency and efficiency across various offices.

Speaking on the decision, Rocket Lab’s Vice President of Global Operations, Shaun O’Donnell, said: “As we’ve grown, so has our production capacity and the platforms associated with various products and processes. Using Teamcenter, we’ll be able to combine various aspects of data related to the same part, assembly and system to maintain a single source of truth across the life cycle of the product. Also, as we grow, NX will give our designers increased performance and stability to cope with larger assemblies.”

“Investing in the right digital platforms that allow us to easily scale with growth is critical to the sustainability of our business. With offices around the world, we rely heavily on the access of relevant information that impacts the efficiencies of our production processes,” said Mr. O’Donnell. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Diversity May Be Key to Reducing Errors in Quantum Computing
By John Toon – In quantum computing, as in team building, a little diversity can help get the job done better, computer scientists have discovered.

Unlike conventional computers, the processing in quantum-based machines is noisy, which produces error rates dramatically higher than those of silicon-based computers. So quantum operations are repeated thousands of times to make the correct answer stands out statistically from all the wrong ones.

But running the same operation over and over again on the same qubit set may just generate the same incorrect answers that can appear statistically to be the correct answer. The solution, according to researchers at the Georgia institute of Technology, is to repeat the operation on different qubit sets that have different error signatures – and therefore won’t produce the same correlated errors.

“The idea here is to generate a diversity of errors so you are not seeing the same error again and again,” said Moinuddin Qureshi, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who worked out the technique with his senior Ph.D. student, Swamit Tannu. “Different qubits tend to have different error signatures. When you combine the results from diverse sets, the right answer appears even though each of them individually did not get the right answer,” said Tannu. more>

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Updates from ITU

How Switzerland is winning the battle against e-waste
ITU News – A handful of old mobile phones – different makes and models, all different sizes and colors – lay in a grey bucket. They are about to be chopped into thousands of unrecognizable pieces.

These outdated and unused devices will be given a second life as recycled e-waste. But many phones won’t.

According to the latest estimates, the world discards approximately 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste annually. E-waste is full of hazardous material – including mercury, cadmium and lead – that can cause damage to human health and the environment if not managed properly.

But only 20 percent of global e-waste is recycled. The rest ends up in landfill, burned or illegally traded every year – or is not recycled at all.

In Switzerland alone, a country with a population of just 8.4 million people, there are an estimated 8-10 million smartphones lying unused in homes throughout the country.

“It’s mostly emotional; people are very sentimental about their cell phones,” said Lovey Wymann, Communications for Swico, Switzerland’s digital e-waste agency.

And yet, Switzerland is a good example of how to deal with the growing environmental issue.

Despite being one of the biggest global producers of e-waste – producing 184 kilotons in 2016 – the country collects and recycles roughly 75 percent of this discarded material, with 134 kilotonnes recovered in 2015. When it comes specifically to digital e-waste (for example, mobile phones and other devices), the recycling rate in 2018 was as high as 95 percent. more>

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Updates from Boeing

Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg Announces Changes to Sharpen Company Focus on Product and Services Safety
New Product and Services Safety organization unifies company approach to safety. Additional actions elevate Engineering function, strengthen Boeing’s culture and will advance safety across the aerospace ecosystem.
Boeing – “Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and the recent 737 MAX accidents will always weigh heavily on us. They have reminded us again of the importance of our work and have only intensified our commitment to continuously improve the safety of our products and services,” said Muilenburg.

“My team and I embrace our board’s recommendations and are taking immediate steps to implement them across the company in partnership with our people, while continuing and expanding our ongoing efforts to strengthen safety across Boeing and the broader aerospace industry. We thank our board and the committee members for their thorough work and ongoing support. Boeing is committed to always being at the forefront, proactively leading and advocating for continuous improvements in global aerospace safety.”

In addition to the previously announced permanent Aerospace Safety Committee of the Boeing Board of Directors, Muilenburg shared that Boeing is standing up a new Product and Services Safety organization that will further strengthen the company’s safety-first focus. This organization will unify safety-related responsibilities currently managed by teams across several Boeing business and operating units. more>