Demand for semiconductors is rising. In the past, semiconductor industry growth was closely tied to consumer electronics like PCs and mobile phones. Now, digital transformation has accelerated across every industry, ushering in a new era of sustained semiconductor demand. The global semiconductor industry is projected to become a trillion-dollar industry by 2030.1 Semiconductor manufacturers will need take steps now to meet this growing demand and stay ahead of the curve.
To take advantage of this growth, it’s important to look towards the future. Semiconductor fabrication plants (“fabs”) that re-evaluate operations and look for opportunities to innovate will be well-equipped to reap these benefits in the years to come. Making the right investments around four focus areas: maximizing yield, building resilience, empowering people and driving sustainability – will help semiconductor manufacturers meet demand and stand out from the competition.
1The semiconductor decade: A trillion-dollar industry." McKinsey, 2022.
Maximizing yield is essential to meeting semiconductor demand. As demand for semiconductors increases, keeping up with rising KPI targets will only become more and more challenging. Additionally, aging hardware could prevent fabs from successfully meeting demand and maintaining high uptimes in the years to come. Considering new ways to maximize yield will set fabs up for success now and in the future.
Semiconductor manufacturers can maximize yield by investing in smart manufacturing technologies that maximize uptime, efficiency and quality. For some fabs, this may look like automating material handling to maximize tooling uptime. Others may implement smart scheduling systems powered by AI and ML to optimize material flows or implement quality management systems coupled with predictive analytics to help catch production anomalies. Preconfigured tools and libraries can also help accelerate time to market. In addition to maximizing yield, it’s also important to consider ways to increase operational resilience.
Developing the resilience to successfully overcome future challenges is critical to the success of every semiconductor manufacturer. While it’s impossible to know what the future holds, managing risk is key to building this operational resilience. Fabs today face a variety of risks, from mounting cybersecurity concerns and complex supply chain challenges to employee safety and project risks. The right technologies can help fabs stay ahead of risk without impacting productivity.
To manage risk, fabs need the visibility to identify potential risks and the tools to successfully mitigate them. For semiconductor manufacturers looking to strengthen cybersecurity, this could look like implementing smart systems with role-based permissions to secure operations and protect sensitive IP. Those seeking to minimize project risk may implement a centralized supply chain management hub to increase operational visibility. Another area of risk that semiconductor manufacturers should consider is the growing talent shortage.