On March 19, 2021 at 2:47 am at part of the processes in the N3 Building (300mm line) of Renesas Electronics’ Naka Factory caught fire, which was extinguished on the same day on March 10, 2021 at 8:12 am. On Saturday, March 20, the police and fire department conducted a site investigation, which confirmed the cause of the fire to be the plating equipment within the first floor of the N3 Building. The casing of the equipment and the plating tank have relatively low resistance to heat, and the equipment ignited due to overcurrent. However, the cause of the overcurrent and the reason for the ignition is currently being investigated.
In a press conference, Renesas confirmed that there were no casualties to the employees and no damage to the building itself. There were, however, damages to some of the utility equipment such as the pure water supply and the air conditioning as well as to some of the manufacturing equipment. While production at Renesas’ 200mm line and their wafer testing building continues to operate as usual, the production at N3 Building has temporarily halted. A Renesas spokesperson at the press conference indicated that the company intends to resume production within one month. Regarding this delay in production, the company said in its official statement:
“Although approximately two-thirds of the products manufactured within N3 Building can be alternatively produced in-house or in foundries, due to the recent increase in demand for semiconductors, the situation does not allow for all products to be immediately produced alternatively. We will ensure to make considerations to produce as many products as fast as we can.”
While the company scrambles to make alternative arrangements, there are fears that this significant halt in production will have a very large impact on its ability to supply devices to the automotive sector, as well as other sectors.
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 news of the Renesas auto chip factory fire is yet another reminder of the importance of building resilience into new product design – and it’s yet another example of how unexpected events can significantly impact the availability and cost of electronics components,” said Richard Barnett, a veteran semiconductor supply chain expert and CMO of Supplyframe. “Automobile manufacturers, consumer electronics companies and other businesses that rely on electronics components to build their products can lower their risk of chip shortages by using new forms of intelligence that provide visibility into the supply chain.”