Infineon recruits Software AG for €1.6bn smart factory to serve booming demand for EVs
German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon Technologies is investing €1.6 billion in a new, fully automated factory for producing 300-millimeter thin wafer chips in Villach, in Austria. It has recruited German data integration and analytics firm Software AG to underpin the new site’s manufacturing execution (MES) system.
Construction on the new site, which will serve demand for 300 millimeter ‘power’ chips for electric vehicles (EVs), will finish in early 2021. The new Villach MES will be a clone of the existing system at its Dresden plant, opened in 2011, which Software AG already supplies with data integration and analytics tools.
The Dresden plant, with 2,500 staff and a conveyor of 400 different products based on 200 and 300 millimeter silicon wafers, is considered Infineon’s most technologically advanced, with highly automated assembly lines and highly connected supply chains. Infineon uses NoSQL technology from Software AG’s Adabas & Natural for storage and access to measurement data from all product areas for production automation.
The Villach facility will have around 60,000 m² of floor space, and create around 400 new jobs. Infineon puts the sales potential of the new factory at €1.8 billion per year.
Reinhard Ploss, chief executive officer of Infineon, said: “Demand for power semiconductors is soaring… underpinned by global megatrends such as climate change, demographic change and increasing digitization. Electric vehicles, connected and battery-powered devices, data centers or power generation from renewable sources require efficient and reliable power semiconductors.”
Infineon is the world’s largest provider of power semiconductors with a market share of 18.5 percent, according to IHS Markit. Larger-diameter (“power saving”) 300-millimeter wafers deliver gains in terms of productivity and working capital. They control the flow of electricity in electric vehicles, trains, wind and solar farms, and power supply units for mobile phones, notebooks and data centres.
The company is a new partner in Volkswagen’s FAST (Future Automotive Supply Tracks) supplier network, which seeks to units its supply chain around digital technologies. Its power modules control the electric drive in Volkswagen’s modular electric drive matrix MEB, the industry’s largest electrification platform.
Volkswagen intends to launch 70 electric models and build 22 million electric vehicles over the next decade, including models from Audi, Seat and Škoda, with “most” based on the MEB platform. Fifteen of the 20 top-selling electric models and plug-in hybrid vehicles worldwide use Infineon components. Its new site in Villach, along with expanded capacity at its plants in Dresden and Kulim, in Malaysia, will serve growth in the electric vehicles market, it said.
Hansjörg Sonnleitner, vice president for operational services and IT systems at Infineon, said: “Our new factory in Villach will apply the digitalization concepts from Dresden and collaborate on their ongoing development. With Adabas & Natural, we have a stable platform that meets all of the requirements in our production environment and ensures that we can take full advantage of the synergies at both locations over the long term.”
Stefan Sigg, chief product officer of Software AG, said: “Adabas is designed for processing huge transaction volumes, delivers extremely high performance and enables absolute reliability in processing company transactions. We are thrilled that Infineon will be using our technology in its important innovation site in Villach.”
In July, the company announced plans to acquire San Jose-based chip maker Cypress Semiconductor Corporation for €9 billion. Ploss called it a “landmark step” for the company.
“We will strengthen and accelerate our profitable growth and put our business on a broader basis. With this transaction, we will be able to offer our customers the most comprehensive portfolio for linking the real with the digital world,” he said.
Cypress offers a differentiated portfolio of microcontrollers, according to Infineon, as well as software and connectivity components that are complementary to the German firm’s power semiconductors, sensors and security solutions.
The deal, expected to close at the end of 2019, will create cost annual synergies of €180 million by 2022, and the offer of new chip solutions with annual revenue synergies of more than €1.5 billion, the company said.
Meanwhile, Infineon has also been listed in the latest Dow Jones Sustainability World Index, one of only six (out of 47) semiconductor makers that have been included.