Categories
Electronic Components

Global semiconductor sales increase in April

Global semiconductor sales increase in April

Global semiconductor industry sales were $40bn during April 2023, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. This is an increase of 0.3% from March’s $39.8bn, but 21.6% less than April last year, which was $50.9bn.

The global semiconductor forecast

SIA President and CEO John Neuffer said the market remained in a cyclical downturn, but hoped the slight month-to-month increase heralded the coming of better times ahead.

The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization released a spring 2023 global semiconductor forecast, which was endorsed by the SIA. The forecast predicted the annual global sales would be $515.1bn this year. This is down from the $574.1bn achieved in 2022, but the WSTS predicted the market would achieve its highest-ever total at $576.0bn in 2024.

Legacy chip demand

Despite the chip shortage lessening, the new challenge facing the industry is scaling up to the new level of demand. The step-up from the older legacy technology often used in consumer goods to newer, more advanced tech is taking time. And currently, this is causing stockpiles of certain chips while others are scarce.

This is one of the reasons why shortages are persisting in some areas of the industry, while other areas have mostly recovered.

Electronic component supply and demand

Worldwide chip production in general is increasing, alongside investments in new equipment and plants. But there still seems to be inventory for certain products that isn’t decreasing. The automotive and EV market is still seeing persistent shortages. Certain automotive companies are struggling with legacy chip availability, while EV makers are trying to stock new tech iterations.

Some predict there will be another chip shortage, despite the introduction of the CHIPS Act. Influencing areas of development, including AI, IoT and 5G will affect demand, but the uncertainty is to what extent it will be affected. Another uncertainty is the likelihood of geopolitical events or natural disasters, which cannot be predicted. This may shut factories or affect transportation, and change the semiconductor output overnight.

Continuing demand

We’re all aware that there are shortages of both everyday components and obsolete electronic parts. Lantek is the perfect partner in times like these, so get in touch today. We’ll be there every step of the way, from your first inquiry until your order is fulfilled. Call us on 1-973-579-8100 or email us at sales@lantekcorp.com

Categories
Electronic Components Semiconductor

Semiconductor cleanrooms

Semiconductor clean rooms

The process of making a semiconductor is a long one, and one of the essential components of the process is the cleanrooms.

What is a cleanroom?

The semiconductor manufacturing process is a very delicate, painstaking process. Cleanrooms have really tight control over many elements,
including temperature, humidity and airflow. These things can all impact the manufacturing process.

Even a single stray particle of dust or a degree below or above the desired temperature could completely alter the semiconductor.

Heat and humidity

Heat can affect the resistance and conductivity of a semiconductor. As a semiconductor’s temperature increases, the conductivity also increases and resistance drops.

Humidity, too, can have a huge impact on the end product. According to Air Innovations, the humidity in a cleanroom should fall between 30% and 50%. These conditions are ideal for stopping bacterial growth and is comfortable for the staff working inside.

Strict regulations

There is a maximum particle count and particle size in place in cleanrooms. This is usually stipulated in ISO requirements, that cleanrooms have to comply with. Depending on the process going on in the cleanroom, the regulations could be more or less stringent.

One of the biggest risk factors to a cleanroom is the people working within it. The staff are required to wear specialist clothing to
prevent cross-contamination, and require a high level of training. It’s also important, this time for the staff’s safety, to design cleanrooms to allow
people to work safely within.

In the event of

The cleanroom filters the air and has mechanisms in place in deal with contamination events.

Due to the demand for semiconductors cleanrooms are often running 24-hours a day. This means they are under a lot of strain and need to
be prepared for any eventuality.

If equipment fails in a cleanroom, all of the components inside are at risk of irreparable damage. These disasters, known as contamination events, can include power glitches, fan failure and pressure malfunctions. Any of these events could be catastrophic if not handled
properly.

Thankfully a cleanroom is unlikely to face a contamination event if it has a well-designs regulation system. If the conditions are tightly
controlled, manufacturers are much less at risk of contamination events.

Squeaky clean

Although we aren’t involved in the manufacturing process, we make sure the electronic components we source for our customers are the best
quality, and we have a guarantee in place to protect you. To hear more about what Lantek can do for you, email us today at sales@lantekcorp.com, or call us on 1-973-579-8100. 

Categories
Electronic Components

Robots in automotive manufacturing

Robots used in automotive manufacturing

The automotive industry is one of the most highly automated supply chains in the world. Of course, robots alone can’t manufacture vehicles, but you can find them in every step of the process.

Welding

Every car needs a large amount of welding, so it makes sense to automate these steps where possible in manufacture.  Welding is a hazardous job, with extreme temperatures, chemicals and weld flash. Taking the human element away from this will not only benefit manufacturers, but will also keep workers safe.

Welding is a job that requires a high degree of accuracy so repeatable, high accuracy welds without human error are also desirable. As the industry progresses and lighter cars are required, and tighter welds that are only possible because of robots.

Painting, coating and sealing

Similarly with welding, painting cars is a job that releases toxic flames and puts workers undertaking it at risk. It also allows the painting to be inhumanly even and perfectly distributed. The same robots can often prime and seal a car body too.

Internal logistics

Just in case you weren’t aware, cars are pretty heavy. Robotics keep the assembly line going by moving heavy loads between stages.

Additionally transporting incoming and outgoing goods can be optimised by swapping the usual manually-operated forklifts for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). These AMRs can navigate without help to different areas of a facility depending on their cargo. They can also easily deal with awkwardly-shaped objects where a forklift may not.

Assembly

Just as with larger components, smaller car parts can also be assembled by robots. With components like motors that are potentially too small for human hands, automation can be useful.

There are plenty of other areas in the car manufacturing process that are improved with automation. These include removal of material, fixing other machines and dealing with molten metal.

They are not alone

Robots cannot function without human counterparts. The machines need to be programmed, controlled and maintained by staff. So, instead of robots replacing workers, workers and robots have to work together to successfully run a manufacturing facility.

Supplied for you

Lantek can provide a substantial range of electronic components, and we’re experts at sourcing hard-to-find components when others cannot. If you’re looking for components, whether they’re obsolete or day-to-day, choose Lantek as your supplier. Contact us now on 1-973-579-8100, or send us an email at sales@lantekcorp.com.

Disclaimer: This blog is purely for informational purposes and is not instructional. 

Categories
Electronic Components

CHIPS Act Statements of Interest

CHIPS Act statement of interest

The Department of Commerce’s CHIPS Act Program Office has received more than 200 Statements of Interest (SOIs) since February.

NOFO

The first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) was released at the end of February this year. The NOFO detailed some of the incentives for semiconductor and equipment manufacturing facilities laid out in the CHIPS Act.

Over 50% of the statements show interest in the first NOFO, but the rest indicate interest in upcoming funding opportunities for 
semiconductor suppliers and R&D facilities.

Applicants include leading-edge fabs, legacy chip facilities and packaging facilities. The Department is evaluating applications based on whether they will advance the US economy and protect national security.

Statements so far

The CHIPS Program Office Director, Mike Schmidt, and Chief Investment Officer, Todd Fisher, were recently interviewed by Bloomberg.

During the interview Schmidt mentioned some issues that were repeatedly coming up in SOIs, including what federal state local permits were required, and what the NIPA (National Income and Product Accounts) review process would be.

Schmidt made it clear that, although the US has a share in the global semiconductor R&D industry, it is lagging behind in leading-edge logic and advanced chips. They also both stressed they were aiming for supply chain resilience, rather than a purely financial return.

Supporting the industry workforce

Some critics have questioned the relevancy of certain areas covered in the CHIPS Act, including the childcare clause. The Act’s first NOFO set childcare requirements that manufacturers would have to fulfil to qualify for funding. Some question whether this is relevant or necessary to the Act, however Fisher and Schmidt said it was.

Schmidt stated that workforce concerns are at the top of many companies priorities lists. He said that adding a childcare clause is an aide to attracting a larger, more diverse workforce down the line. Fisher added that in the last 20 years the domestic semiconductor industry lost a third of its workers while the industry tripled globally.

The two also cited companies such as Samsung, TSMC and Micron who all have successful childcare policies in place.

A class act

 

Despite the fast-paced nature of the electronics industry, Lantek Corporation is a safe, reliable choice to source all your electronic components.
With an extensive stocklist, global network, unrivalled on-time delivery and dedicated account management team, we’re able to provide a rapid response to our customers’ urgent needs and dynamic market conditions. Contact Lantek today at sales@lantekcorp.com, or call us on 1-973-579-8100. 

Categories
Electronic Components Environment

Increase in lithium battery recycling

Increase in lithium battery recycling

The Department of Energy (DOE) is making further investments in lithium battery recycling.

In late February the DOE loaned battery recycling company Li-Cycle $375 million to build a plant near Rochester, New York.

This followed several other recycling companies’ announcements about lithium battery recycling facilities, including Ecobat and Redwood Materials.

The latest facility will be Li-Cycle’s fifth in North America.

Significant investment

Many facility announcements have come as production and popularity of EVs grows in the US. Not only in recycling, but also lithium battery production. Earlier this year the DOE announced a $700 million loan for a processing facility at the Rhyolite Ridge lithium deposit in Nevada.

The company in charge of the facility, Ioneer, states there will be enough lithium produced from the site to build 400,000 EVs each year.

The goals

The US is aiming for 500,000 EV chargers and 50% of all new light-duty vehicle sales being electric by 2030. They are further hoping to be a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.

Sales of EVs in the US were 630,000 in 2021, according to the International Energy Agency. This would need more than 7,560 tonnes of lithium. To reach the goals stated by the Biden Administration, 90,000 tonnes of lithium would need to be produced. This is 1700% more than the lithium currently mined in the US.

Slow and steady

A lithium mine takes between four and 20 years to begin commercial production. Although there are several projects underway in the country, there’s no telling when these might become steady sources of lithium.

Lithium mining is a concern due to the water consumption and toxic chemicals that can leak into the environment. There are also lithium shortages predicted as soon as 2025. Recycling would make the production of lithium batteries more sustainable and potentially mitigate future shortages.

The cost of recycling these batteries can be high. There are additional risks with lithium batteries, demonstrated by the 245 fires across 4 waste facilities caused in the past. The process is pretty time-consuming too. Consequentially, the price of running safe recycling facilities is quite high.

There is hope, though, that it will be worth it in the future. 

Guaranteed

Lantek is a distributor with decades of experience in the electronic components industry. Whether you’re looking for new shortage components or obsolete ones, trust Lantek to provide what you need. Call us today on 1-973-579-8100 or send us an email at sales@lantekcorp.com.

Categories
Electronic Components Supply Chain

US Japan critical minerals agreement

US Japan critical minerals agreement

The US and Japan agreed last week to strengthen their supply chains of critical minerals like cobalt, lithium and nickel.

The agreement

In the agreement, signed on March 28, the partners agreed to not impose export duties between the US and Japan on critical minerals. They also said they would take action to address non-market policies of other countries that impact the critical minerals trade.

As the US diversifies its trading partners, they risk further complications in its critical minerals supply chain.

As part of the agreement the investments made by foreign powers in the industry will be reviewed. The allies will also upgrade their
information-sharing and enforcement in relation to labor rights violations.

Trade Representative for America Katherine Tai said Japan was a valued trading partner. She said the partnership
was a welcome moment to strengthen the critical minerals supply chain.

Japan’s Ambassador to the US, Tomita Koji, added that securing critical minerals was vital. This, he said, was partly due to the
increased demand for electric vehicles and the batteries powering them.

Partners

The two countries made other trade agreements in relation to the semiconductor industry. The countries made an agreement in July last year to create a joint research center for next-generation semiconductors.

The agreement was brought in for similar reasons, to soften America’s relationship China.

The US and Japan said during the launch that they want to establish supply chain resilience in the sector, and said they would build a strong battery supply chain.

Are you looking for a partner?

 

Lantek is a company that always puts its customers’ needs first. We will work with you to make sure we source all the electronic
components you’re looking for. Contact us today on 1-973-579-8100 or via email at sales@lantekcorp.com

Categories
Electronic Components Technology

The Chips Act childcare clause

The Chips Act childcare clause

Semiconductor manufacturers will have to provide affordable childcare for their workers, according to a clause in the Chips Act.

New regulations will mean that companies are required to provide day-care facilities near to their manufacturing sites. They could also provide subsidies to workers so they can pay for childcare separately.

This clause only applies to companies applying for $150 million or more in funding, but other applicants are also advised to put these measures in place.

The NOFO

These measures were released in the First Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on February 28th. It covers not only childcare provisions, but other measures to improve support for the workforce and their community.

Secretary of the Commerce Department, Gina Raimondo, praised the inclusion of a childcare clause. She has said in the past that a lack of childcare provisions prevented people from returning to work post-pandemic.

According to Raimondo, manufacturers and unions need to work with the department towards some grand goals. She hopes they can hire and train another million women in construction in the next ten years. This, she said, will help meet demand not only in the chip industry but across other industries.

Other requirements

Other provisions in the first NOFO require applicants to show their understanding of the Chips Act’s objectives. They also have to demonstrate partnerships with local governments, a plan for workforce training and supply chain risk and intellectual property theft mitigation plans.

Both the NOFO and the original legislation in the Chips Act will bring any foreign investment under a microscope. While foreign companies can apply for certain manufacturing incentives, there are stipulations. This include ineligibility if the country is listed as a ‘foreign entity of concern’, or if the application is funded by one.

There will be two further NOFOs released further down the line. The second NOFO will be based around semiconductor materials and equipment, and the third will be for R&D facilities.

Act now

Despite all the changes to chip legislation in the US, Lantek is not going anywhere. We will continue to do the best for our customers and make sure all their electronic component needs are met. Whether you’re based at home or internationally, we will harness our global network to ensure you always have what you need. Call us today on 1-973-579-8100, or email us at sales@lantekcorp.com to change your supply chain for the better.

Categories
Technology

US solar industry stalled by goods restrictions

US solar industry stalled by goods restrictions

US solar panel installations are expected to decline by almost a quarter due to several restrictions being put in place. Among these, there is a new import ban on products from China’s Xinjiang region, and restrictions on products from companies found to be dodging tariffs.

Some companies were found to be avoiding tariffs by finishing their products in Southeast Asian countries. This led to a ban on importing products from these companies, which was later waived by Biden. Other companies, working in a controversial region of China, were also restricted by the US.

More than 1000 solar energy import shipments have stalled at US ports since new legislation came into effect in June.

The law

The legislation came in just months before the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was also signed into law. This Act encourages the use of clean energy technologies against the effects of climate change. Many domestic solar companies hope to benefit from the Act, which allocates almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy.

However, since the restrictions have been announced there’s expected to be delays until late 2023.

Currently, the largest markets for solar technology are utilities and other commercial customers. The residential market is expected to increase by 37%.

Although the restrictions will impede the growth of domestic solar project developers, there are certain reliefs. Only some of the solar panel manufacturers from China have been restricted, so other imports are still available.

Further developments

More recently, though, China has also suggested they would ban the export of its solar panel technology. China controls about 75% of the solar panel industry right now. Even with the current restrictions, this move could have a huge impact on the US.

More than anything, policy-makers and manufacturers in the US are concerned about the time it would take to catch up. The solar industry has been so reliant on Chinese suppliers over the years, it won’t be easy to wean off.

The Biden administration did put a 2-year waiver in place to delay some of the restrictions coming in, but this will not go all the way to avoid delays. Building a single factory to make a material like polysilicon would take a few years. Recreating the entire supply chain could take 4 times as long.

Choose reliability

Whether you’re looking for solar panel components or any other electronic parts, choose Lantek. We have a dedicated sales team on hand to find all of the components you want. Call us today on 1-973-579-8100 or email us at sales@lantekcorp.com. We’ll be waiting!

Categories
Electronic Components

Supply chain adaptability

Supply chain adaptability

Connectivity within our supply chain is a positive thing. It has given us access to resources from all over the world, boosting production and sourcing. However, covid and other factors have highlighted the risk that comes with having a globally connected supply chain.

If covid was the only concern, though, the supply chain would have recovered by now. The general increase in supply and demand has also left the industry struggling to catch up.

If there is a disruption to one area of the supply chain, this is then passed down the line to customers. At every step of the supply chain, the delays are exacerbated and impacts the economy.

Connectivity and interdependence have always been essential in the electronics industry, whether it is relying on other countries for materials or working with international foundries on production.

Certain countries had, and some still have, covid-related restrictions in place to stop the potential spread. This means that plants in those countries have had difficulty keeping up with demand. As one of the biggest exporters of electronics is also in this position, some countries are choosing to transition away from working with them.

Some large companies have already made the decision to move their base of operations to mitigate this risk in the future. This has the potential to massively shift industry dynamics and encourage other businesses to make similar moves.

Funding is being allocated by some governments to facilitate nearshoring or reshoring of companies, which would bolster the supply chain. Many countries, including the US, UK and India, are increasing the budget and support of domestic chip production. There will be several ongoing effects from this, including an increase in skilled workers, R&D and more in-house production.

Although this would be beneficial there would still need to be materials sourced from countries including places in turmoil. Even relocating a percentage of the supply chain will not resolve these sourcing conundrums. However, it would reduce shipping times and customs charges for the finished product, especially if production is closer to customers.

As much as it would be beneficial to reshore or nearshore production, it comes with certain risks. The cost of labour varies largely depending on location, as does the number of skilled workers. Additionally, the delay or difficulties associated with moving production halfway around the world will also be numerous.

Many countries have put measures and funds in place to encourage moves, but financial aid will only reach so far.

More than a long-term static solution, the supply chain needs to be flexible and adaptable. Supply, demand, and the world in general is very volatile right now. As such, suppliers and manufacturers will have to alter their ways of working accordingly.

Lantek has the rare advantage of being able to source electronic components from all over the world. This, combined with our keen eye and careful inspection processes, means we can find and supply the components you need.

Call today on 1-973-579-8100 to speak to a member of our sales team, or contact us at sales@lantekcorp.com

Disclaimer: This blog is meant purely for educational or informational purposes and is in no way instructional.

Categories
Electronic Components

Price hikes in the electronics industry

Price hikes in the electronics industry

More price increases announced

Chip prices will continue to increase, despite some component lead times improving. This is due to inflation, labour shortages, and scarcity of raw materials, among other things.

Intel was the latest company to announce price increases, which it will supposedly introduce at the end of this year. It joins firms including TSMC, Samsung, and Texas Instruments in raising the cost of its products.

As has become very clear, the pandemic contributed to supply shortages the world over. However, there have also been issues with labour shortages, material sourcing and the increasing costs of everything.

Reverse psychology?

Processors are increasing in price at Intel and other companies. It has been suggested that this actually may be due to oversupply. If the cost of the components is increased vendors are more likely to buy the stock before it occurs. As they stock up, Intel’s supply levels will decrease. This may lead to shortages in the long-term.

These increases are due to be introduced at the end of 2022, but people are suspicious it may happen sooner. If prices are instead increased in autumn, they can be discounted for events like Black Friday and Christmas.

War and price

Inflation is causing the price of materials to increase also, which inevitably would be passed down the supply chain. The price of raw materials was always going to increase over time, but the conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated this. Gases like neon, which is used in semiconductor production, is almost wholly (70%) sourced by Ukraine. Similarly, 40% of krypton gas is also from Ukraine, which is in conflict with Russia.

Aside from these materials, the price of lithium, cobalt and nickel, used for EV batteries, is also rising. The EV industry already had price hikes when the pandemic began, when the chip shortage took its toll. Now, following the 15% increase in 2021, automakers are facing another potential price increase.

Expansion

One of the largest players in the industry, TSMC, announced its price increases would take place in 2023. Despite not being as severe as first speculated, the 6% price increase will be enough that customers will notice.

Aside from the cost of raw materials, electricity and labour expenses, TSMC is also expanding. To fund this expansion it is increasing the price of fabrication.

Could we have stopped it?

Years before the pandemic, as far back as 2017, there were signs that a shortage was on its way. New technologies were mounting and other geopolitical difficulties were afoot. Even then, the best way to avoid this would have been to redesign the tech and improve the fabrication process. This would have been a time-consuming and expensive process, and whenever it happened it would result in delays and losses.

Conclusion

The amalgamation of all these factors will lead to lasting price increases for electronic components. Even if these prices are discounted in peak times like Black Friday or Christmas, suppliers will still have to deal with inflation and material shortages.

The expansion plans of some of the industry’s big players, and the cost of the tech to sustain them will also lead to price increases. How long the effects of these will last, we’ll have to wait and see.