Fire destroys part of renesas fab

More woes for the global automotive manufacturing industry.  A serious fire at Renesas’ chip making plant in Ibaraki Prefecture will, according to the company, have “a very large impact” on its ability to supply devices to the sector, as well as some other sectors.

The fire destroyed a significant portion of the huge facility, including the 300mm line at the Naka Factory.  Renesas said it was looking at the feasibility of increasing production at other facilities in order to make up for the loss of substantial volumes, and warned the stricken plant will not be operational for at least a month.

The company’s CEO Hidetoshi Shibata said “we are concerned that there will be a massive impact on chip supplies; we will pursue every means possible to minimize the impact.” The facility was primarily involved in making devices for the automotive sector.

Car makers have already been struggling with huge shortages of semiconductors and increasing demand for them. For instance Ford Motors said last month it would lose some 20% of output for the first quarter of 2021. Other companies that have had to cut back, or even suspend production, include Honda, Toyota and Tesla.

The fire was caused by plating equipment in one of the buildings due to a surge in current, destroying  600 square meters, including some 5% of the building’s clean room area. However, the entire building has had to be closed down to allow cleaning and reconstruction.

In a statement, Renesas confirmed there were no casualties caused by the fire, nor any leakages of toxic gases.

It added that production in its adjacent N2 building, which houses a 200nm line, was not impacted.

Shares in Renesas slumped by nearly 6% on the Tokyo exchange.