President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a bill designed to ensure America’s leadership in chip technology innovation and address national security concerns. The new law appropriates funding that incentivizes companies and their upstream suppliers to manufacture semiconductor-integrated circuits in the United States, and to bolster domestic microelectronics research and development (R&D). Semiconductor chips are key to the technologies and industries of the future, so we must be at the forefront of this sector. The CHIPS Act will enable us to build more resilient supply chains for important components.
Funding available as part of the CHIPS Act will empower and transform the U.S. economy and workforce. It encourages both domestic and international semiconductor companies to build new fabs, expand existing fabs on U.S. soil, grow the American workforce and strengthen communities. This act will provide incentives for businesses to invest in skills-based training programs to help close the skills gap and provide employees with better opportunities for success.
The CHIPS Act is already making an impact. There are over 40 new semiconductor ecosystem projects that have been announced across the U.S. since May 2020 valued at nearly US $200B in private investment across 16 states. All of this means that about 40,000 new high-quality jobs are being created in the semiconductor ecosystem as part of the new projects. Some projects have already broken ground and started the building process in anticipation of the CHIPS Act incentives. The CHIPS Act applicants are encouraged to leverage collaborations to build industry consortia with North America-based suppliers and create inclusive opportunities for businesses and communities.
As a result, many companies are looking for a partner who can help reduce their time to market, manage the overall risk on these enormous and fast-paced projects by acting as a Main Automation Contractor. These partners will provide industrial automation, digital transformation and workforce enablement solutions. Several key factors are important to consider when selecting a partner for these projects.
Evaluate Expertise & Experience
When selecting a partner for industrial automation and digital transformation, the first step is to evaluate their expertise in the semiconductor industry. An experienced partner will have the knowledge and capabilities necessary to understand your goals and recommend solutions that meet your needs. Furthermore, they will have experience working on large greenfield and brownfield projects within the semiconductor industry, so they can provide valuable insight into how best to approach your project.
Rockwell Automation is an American company, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that has been in business since 1903 and engaged in supporting the semiconductor industry for over two decades. Our technology stack enables critical control applications on process tools and in facility management and control systems (FMCS), Life Safety Systems (LSS), and Hazardous Production Material (HPM) Systems, designed with high availability and redundancy measures in place to mitigate disruptions to fab operations. We leverage disruptive technologies to solve complex wafer transport challenges and provide automated material handling solutions in the cleanroom. Our LifecycleIQ™ Services portfolio, combined with the expert capabilities of our powerful PartnerNetwork™, delivers the right mix of expertise and breadth of knowledge to help semiconductor manufacturers optimize day-to-day operations with consulting, program and project management, network and cybersecurity support as well as workforce training and enablement services. Rockwell Automation is trusted by industry leaders and major semiconductor engineering procurement and construction companies to take on the role of Main Automation Contractor.
Assess Performance Metrics & Sustainability
The next step is to assess performance metrics such as response time, cost-effectiveness, the accuracy of results and quality control measures. A reputable partner should demonstrate their ability to meet or exceed predetermined performance metrics so you can rest assured that the project will be completed on time and within your budget. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that quality control measures are in place so you can trust that the project results will be accurate and reliable. Production of microchips is resource-intensive, especially considering a fab’s annual water and power consumption. Semiconductor fab emissions primarily come from Scope 1 process gases and scope 2 electrical consumptions. Industry is a major contributor to the global greenhouse gas emissions.
Rockwell Automation sustainability solutions provide cleaner, safer, more energy-efficient operations. A focus on the reduction of waste, energy, and water consumption are the three areas that offer our customers the most significant opportunity for meaningful, sustainable outcomes. Our ability to implement effective strategies, powered by process optimization technologies and IT/OT convergence platforms provide energy optimization opportunities that will help your facility achieve ESG-related targets.
Understand Your Long-Term Goals
Finally, it’s essential to understand your long-term goals for industrial automation and digital transformation before selecting a partner. This will help ensure that you select a partner who understands what you need now and what you may need in the future regarding technology solutions. It’s essential to consider whether a potential partner has a track record of providing long-term support after the initial project is complete—this can help ensure that any issues or problems can quickly be addressed moving forward.
In addition to sustainability, Rockwell Automation has identified cybersecurity and workforce development as the critical areas for a semiconductor production facility’s current and long-term success.
Guarding against threats to semiconductor production operations as well as an organization’s chip design and other critical intellectual property assets is critical to sustainable competitiveness. Modern industrial operations require modern cybersecurity. Rockwell Automation can help you adopt a more proactive cybersecurity stance with comprehensive services you can trust to help protect your assets. Our approach provides IT and OT solutions to cover the entire attack continuum – before, during and after an event.
Semiconductor companies looking to enable domestic production of the most advanced chips and expand the production of mature chips essential to national and economic security are facing a skills shortage. They are struggling to find candidates to fill many critical jobs in cleanroom and sub fabs. In addition, the costs to source, recruit, assess, select and develop a highly skilled workforce are growing rapidly.
Rockwell Automation and ManpowerGroup developed, and are currently deploying educational and skills training curricula needed support the industry sector and to help the United States can build and maintain a trusted and predictable talent pipeline. Our university partnership program has received special recognition from local government, Academia and communities. Over many decades the program has helped to address the skilled worker shortage and continue the growth of a healthy talent pipeline for us, our partners, and our customers. We are expanding our partnership and investments within key state and local universities and trade schools that are hosting mega fab projects (examples include our work with Arizona State University and Cleveland State University).
Additionally, Rockwell Automation provides workforce training and enablement solutions, including digital enablement of employees, via contemporary services and technologies.
Rockwell Automation: An experienced, American partner for CHIPS Act 2022-backed projects
Selecting the right partner for industrial automation and digital transformation projects funded by the CHIPS Act 2022 is a critical undertaking. By understanding your long-term goals and evaluating the expertise and experience as well as performance metrics of potential partners, you can select one who meets all your needs while also providing exceptional value over time. With careful consideration during the selection process, you can be rest assured that you have selected the best possible partner for your specific needs.
Rockwell Automation has the experience and resources here in the U.S. to help restore leadership in semiconductor manufacturing. Our proven track record and experience operating in the capacity of a Main Automation Contractor for large SEMI greenfield projects are unmatched in the industry. In roughly 120 years, Rockwell Automation has strengthened American manufacturing, supply chains and national security and invested in research and development, science and technology and the workforce of the future to help the United States lead in the industries of tomorrow. Partnering with Rockwell Automation can help to set you on a path to building the industry consortia with recognized and established North American suppliers, helping you establish a secure and resilient supply chain and expand the workforce pipeline.
Learn about Rockwell Automation’s flexible semiconductor manufacturing and our leading-edge automation and control solutions here.