Adding to the general trends for more semiconductors for IOT applications, electrical vehicles (EVs) or the new 5G standard, the COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the demand for remote working and thus for PCs, laptops, monitors, faster data transfer and higher storage volumes in cloud storage. To meet this demand semiconductor manufacturer worldwide invest heavily into new production facilities and upgrades of existing facilities. As the global market leader in high performance vacuum valves, VAT is involved in all these new semiconductor fabrication plants. Outfitting such production facilities with semiconductor production systems requires a high number of special vacuum valves, from various types of transfer valves in the wafer path to gas dosing valves, downstream control valves and various valves in the sub-fab area. VAT provides all of them. Furthermore, VAT has moved over the years from a pure vacuum valves provider to a vacuum system provider. More and more these new facilities are equipped with vacuum subsystems like load lock or transfer chamber modules that are full supplied by VAT, helping OEMs to faster supply their customers with tailored production solutions.
The majority of these semiconductor projects are taking place in Asia. In addition, Europe and the US have started projects for new production capacity as well. With the number of semiconductor production projects in the pipeline high demand for components like vacuum valves and vacuum subsystems is expected to continue at least until 2024.
With its production capacity in Switzerland, Malaysia and Romania, VAT’s strategy is to supply its global customers faster with closer support. "Short innovation cycles in the semiconductor industry as well as a sharp increase in demand in the short term also require us to respond faster in the development and production of vacuum valves and vacuum subsystems" Paraveen Singham, General Manager of the VAT plant in Malaysia explains. "Over many years, we have proofed to be a reliable and important partner for customers, not only for innovative products but also for providing the supply security they need under changing market conditions." This means two things: in addition to ramping up factory output, the Penang factory also relieves the burden on the Haag site in Switzerland by taking over certain existing production lines and expanding in the design area. With this step, VAT is also expanding the business continuity of its global production and thus offering more security of supply.
With its OneVAT strategy, VAT is not only expanding its global manufacturing, but is also building on a network of design sites. "The production of high-performance vacuum valves as well as vacuum subsystems is to a high degree determined by tailor-made solutions that are designed exactly for the respective customer. Appropriate engineering capacity is therefore just as crucial as production capacity," adds Yves Beer, Head of Product Management responsible for setting up product management and product line transfer. "With Malaysia expanding its current design capabilities as well, we strengthen our worldwide network of development sites where we can support customers everywhere locally with the full VAT know-how."