SINGPAPORE: German semiconductor Infineon Technologies will invest S$105 million over the next five years into building a Smart Factory at its Singapore manufacturing facility.
This is part of Infineon’s push to implement what it calls a Smart Enterprise Programme, encompassing horizontal, vertical and digital integration.
For instance, it has introduced robots like automated guided vehicles, to facilitate the transportation of chips across different parts of the facility.
Senior engineer Foo Say Wee said: “For the lots delivery, it used to be carried out manually by the operator who has to search the lots and carry the lot and hand it to the equipment. But today, employing automation, the lot will be automatically delivered to the operator and after that we have robotic vehicles that automatically come over and transport the lots to the equipment."
The company manufactures chips used in things like cars and electronic identification such as passports.
Many of Infineon’s employees have worked there for decades, including Ha Nyit Fong, who is approaching 25 years with the company. But she said that the move towards automation and connectivity has been seamless so far. “It has been easy, because the company provides the necessary training”, said Ms Ha.
These investments are expected to help the company achieve chip output of four times, said Infineon’s president and managing director Andrew Chong.
“It contributes to our sustainable competitive positioning in the market. For example, we aim to achieve a chip output of four times over this period. Smart Enterprise Programme gives us a quantum leap in productivity.
“This is also very beneficial to our workers, because we replace a lot of the manual, error-prone activities by our workers, and this allows us to upgrade our workers into much higher value added activities."
The Economic Development Board has partnered Infineon in this latest programme and its assistant managing director Lim Kok Kiang said there is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising productivity. But he stressed that the push towards innovation is not an end-goal, but a journey to help Singapore retain a competitive edge in manufacturing.
“We have a strong base of manufacturing sectors already here in Singapore, so certainly as a next step, we think there's a window of opportunity for companies to adopt and adapt their manufacturing activities here, so that we can continue to sustain a competitive manufacturing sector in Singapore."
Infineon hires about 2,000 people here in Singapore, with around 1,300 in its manufacturing segment. Singapore is Infineon’s regional headquarters, contributing 3.3 billion euros, or 48 per cent of Infineon’s global revenue, in its 2016 financial year.