The microelectronics industry entered 2020 with high hopes after a mixed 2019 that saw global semiconductor revenue fall 11 percent while innovators continued to drive impressive advances in 5G, IoT, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other leading-edge technologies. Equipment sales were rebounding as the industry started to regain momentum. And then COVID-19 sent disruptions rippling throughout the global supply chain. Semiconductor manufacturing facilities scaled back operations. Parts shortages became a problem. Logistical challenges emerged. And, all the while, many workers retreated to their homes under lockdown.
The virus forced the industry, en masse, to pivot like never before to ride out the pandemic. This is the most challenging situation that I have experienced in my nearly 40-year career. All of us in the microelectronics industry have dedicated ourselves to rise to the occasion and help others. Among our efforts, we are providing resources to support SEMI members and the industry.
Today, we can take heart that manufacturing firms in China are restoring normal operations. SEMI hosted a webinar on March 26 where our colleagues at McKinsey & Company shared insights on China as it begins its recovery as well as the broader impact of the pandemic on the microelectronics manufacturing and design supply chain. You can read about McKinsey’s insights in a recent SEMI blog.
In my closing remarks at last month’s webinar, I asked the industry to donate masks, gloves and additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to support our overwhelmed healthcare systems. The battle against the virus rages on around the globe. These donations will help people, businesses and whole economies to heal and recover.
I am proud of how generously the microelectronics industry has donated these supplies that, in ordinary times, contribute to the meticulously controlled environments of our industry’s manufacturing facilities, but today can help save lives and bring the pandemic to heel. I ask companies across the supply chain to please explore how you can contribute to this effort. Donation information is available on our Coronavirus Resources webpage under Medical Needs & Supply Matching Sites. It’s great to see SEMI members help combat COVID-19, and we are highlighting some of their efforts in news stories and blogs on our Coronavirus News and Blog webpage. We encourage you to submit your story.
We know our members are hungry for more COVID-19 insights to help guide their way as uncertainty persists. SEMI is offering a follow-up webinar with McKinsey & Company – The Way Forward from COVID-19 – on Thursday, April 23rd from 7:30am to 8:45am Pacific Time. Then, on Thursday, April 30th from 8:30am to 10:30am Pacific Time, the SEMI Americas team will host the virtual forum Semiconductor Outlook—Navigating through Turbulent Times. Bank of America Merrill Lynch will provide an update on semiconductor stocks, IHS Markit a market outlook, and VLSI Research the latest on COVID-19’s impact on the semiconductor industry. The goal of these events is to help you, our members, make more informed business decisions. We look forward to your participation and ask that you please submit questions so that the events are more meaningful for you.
We have also added more resources to our SEMI Responds webpage, which lists best practices for company policies, public communications and telecommuting from our Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and Information Technology Leadership (ITL) groups. The page now includes member survey insights from our Fab Owners Alliance (FOA) and Electronic Materials Group (EMG) on COVID-19 impacts to those communities, along with steps members are taking to maintain business continuity and ensure that their facilities remain safe. A big thanks to members of these groups for participating and sharing learnings with the industry at large.
Sustaining operations across the industry has been the focus of work by the SEMI Global Advocacy team the past few weeks. It has continued to lobby for the microelectronics industry to be classified as an essential business in the United States and for similar designations in other countries. Those efforts included a SEMI Americas request for the government of Mexico to designate the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain an essential business, consistent with U.S. guidelines, to help avoid disruptions to the North American semiconductor industry. SEMI Europe sent 22 letters to officials across the continent, three of them to the European Commission, urging governments to allow continuous operations of the semiconductor industry. SEMI Japan has been closely engaged with the central government and sent letters to many Japanese prefectures stressing the critical importance of continuing operations.
I am truly proud of how the SEMI team has stepped up around the globe to proactively communicate and support our members with relevant information and best practices related to the pandemic. The outcome of our letters to governments around the globe to seek essential business status has generally been very positive.
SEMI also continues to oppose unilateral U.S. export controls that will compromise the ability of the U.S. to export semiconductor manufacturing equipment and materials, as highlighted in a recent Reuters article.
SEMI advocacy efforts epitomize our overarching approach to the pandemic: We remain squarely focused on supporting our members during these turbulent times while continuing to lay the groundwork for the industry’s prosperity.
Ajit Manocha is President and CEO of SEMI.