The Week In Review: Manufacturing

Robotics biz; EUV resists; VR roller coasters; SSDs.


Is robotics the next big thing? IDC forecasts that global spending on robotics and related services will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% from more than $71 billion in 2015 to $135.4 billion in 2019. “Robotics is one of the core technologies that is enabling significant change in manufacturing through factory of the future initiatives. While traditionally used in the automotive industry, there is an increasing adoption of robotics in sectors like electronics, retail, healthcare, logistics, agriculture, services, education, and government,” said Jing Bing Zhang, an analyst at IDC, in a report. “Such broad-based growth in robotic adoption is being driven by increasing labor costs, shortage of skilled labor, and an increasing emphasis on repeatable quality in conjunction with a reduction in prices of robotic systems and strategic national initiatives.”

EUV resist developer Inpria has announced the closing of its most recent financing, thereby doubling the company’s total financing to date. This round was led by new investor Air Liquide Venture Capital, with participation from existing investors–Samsung Venture and Intel Capital. New investor Tokyo Ohka Kogyo (TOK) also joined the round.

Six Flags Entertainment and Samsung Electronics America have announced a broad marketing partnership. The partnership includes the debut of a new experience coming to nine Six Flags parks. This includes the first virtual reality roller coaster, based on Samsung and Oculus technology.

Samsung is shipping the industry’s most dense solid-state drive (SSD). The PM1633a is a 15.36-terabyte (TB) drive.

GlobalFoundries announced that Alain Mutricy has joined the company as senior vice president of the Product Management Group. In this role, Mutricy is responsible for the company’s leading-edge and mainstream technology solutions. Mutricy succeeds Mike Cadigan, who will transition to a newly created role as senior vice president of global sales and business development.

In a blog, Coventor discusses the ability to model line edge roughness (LER) and line width roughness (LWR) in lithography.

In 2015, Taiwan led all regions/countries in wafer fab capacity with nearly 22% of worldwide IC capacity installed in the country, according to IC Insights. Taiwan surpassed South Korea in 2015 to become the largest capacity holder after having passed Japan in 2011. China became a larger wafer capacity holder than Europe for the first time in 2010, according to the report.

The U.S. Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $26.9 billion for the month of January 2016, 2.7% lower than the previous month’s total of $27.6 billion and 5.8% down from the January 2015 total of $28.5 billion. Sales into the Americas were particularly sluggish, decreasing 5.9% month-to-month and 16.9% year-to-year. All monthly sales numbers are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average. “Global semiconductor sales decreased in January across most regional markets and product categories, largely due to softening demand and lingering macroeconomic headwinds,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO of the SIA. “Despite these challenges, modest market growth is projected for 2016, following essentially flat sales last year.”

Liquid crystal display (LCD) manufacturer inventory adjustments and continued slowing demand are causing TV and information technology (IT) display prices to fall, further eroding panel makers’ profitability. TV and IT display shipments in the first quarter of 2016 are expected to decline 8% compared to the same period last year, to register just 196 million units. This is the first time since 2009 that panel shipments have declined in the first quarter year over year, according to IHS Inc.