The sustainable manufacturing imperative

By Karen Savala, president, SEMI Americas

Companies in the microelectronics manufacturing supply loop see “sustainability” as an important objective in their operations as well as their business strategy.   This trend has progressed far beyond the niche players that traditionally positioned themselves as “green,” and, in our industry, now includes virtually every significant IC manufacturer as well as a broad base of their suppliers. While sometimes seen as a social, legal and regulatory obligation, sustainability is increasingly considered a differentiating factor in global competitiveness relative to the technologies and products being provided.

Sustainable manufacturing is the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Sustainable manufacturing also enhances employee, community, and product safety.  A large and growing number of manufacturers are realizing substantial financial and environmental benefits from sustainable business practices and are driving requirements through the supply chain.

One example cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pertains to two of Freescale Semiconductor’s major energy-using systems that were assessed for energy efficiency. Following the assessment, the company implemented projects which included adjustments to water pumping and compressed air systems. As a result, the company’s Oak Hill Fabrication plant in Austin, Texas reduced its annual energy consumption by 28 million kWh of electricity and 26,000 million Btu of natural gas over a three year period, with more than $2 million in annual savings.

Now, key industry trends that influence facilities purchasing decisions pertain to issues such as energy efficiency, pollution control, water conservation, environmental impact, climate protection, conflict minerals in supply chains, as well as the ongoing attention to safety and ergonomics.

Intel Corporation says that technological advancement and environmental sustainability should go hand in hand.   The company incorporates environmental performance goals throughout their operations, seeking continuous improvement in energy efficiency, emissions reduction, resource conservation, and other areas. As delineated on the company’s web site, Intel strives to minimize the environmental impact of its products—from design through disposal—and seeks innovative ways that technology can help address long-term sustainability challenges.  According to their environmental reporting, TSMC requires equipment vendors to consider water, power, and material conservation when designing new generations of equipment, and also requires a long-term blueprint for carbon reduction and future environmental strategy. TSMC also verifies that the energy performance of each tool meets or exceeds conditions set in the procurement contract after tool installation is completed. GLOBALFOUNDRIES also states that environmental sustainability is at the core of high-volume silicon manufacturing.

Recently, SEMI presented its Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) leadership award to Dr. Tzu-Yin (TY) Chiu, CEO of SMIC for minimizing its environmental impact by using resources efficiently, reducing pollution substantially, disposing of hazardous materials responsibly, and upgrading facilities regularly (article: www.semi.org/en/node/49356).

Accordingly, SEMI members see an increasing amount and complexity of EHS performance and reporting requirements from both customers and regulators.  Throughout the electronics supply chain there is increased scrutiny of environmental performance and SEMI has long maintained an EHS program that encompasses the industry’s broadest network of EHS and purchasing professionals dedicated to collaborating on regulatory, manufacturing and fab facilities issues related to environmental impact.

Now we are extending the spotlight on this important area.  In conjunction with SEMICON West and INTERSOLAR North America, SEMI is organizing a four-day Sustainable Manufacturing Forum to share information about the latest technologies, products, and management approaches that promote sustainable manufacturing. The Forum will feature twenty hours of seminars / workshops / roundtable discussions in twelve distinct Sessions as well as many structured opportunities for professional networking.

A special exhibit pavilion will be associated with the Sustainable Manufacturing Forum to showcase companies and new technologies from around the world that address sustainable manufacturing needs for micro-electronics, nano-electronics, photovoltaics, solid state lighting, electronic displays, and other high-tech products. The SEMICON West Sustainable Manufacturing Pavilion will provide direct opportunities for companies to market their value to a wide variety of customers and their supply chains involved in high tech manufacturing.

Further complementing the focus on products that improve sustainable manufacturing, the Sustainable Technologies Award will recognize SEMICON West exhibitors who provide equipment, materials, or services that contribute to the sustainable improvement of the environment.

Together, the Sustainable Forum, Pavilion and Award will support the industry’s imperative for greater environmental, energy, and facilities performance.

I sincerely hope that you will participate and join the new focus on sustainable manufacturing at SEMICON West.

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