Fukushima earthquake exhibits chipmaker Renes the worth of resilience
TOKYO – Renesas Electronics’ Naka manufacturing facility in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, was severely broken by the nice earthquake in japanese Japan in 2011. A decade later, the ‘Renesas shock’, which crippled the auto chip maker and shut down world auto manufacturing, remains to be recent within the minds of workers and managers.
Issues weren’t as dangerous as they appeared instantly after the earthquake destroyed the corporate’s principal manufacturing facility. At first it was thought the plant could be out of service for six months, but it surely got here again on-line in simply three. The catastrophe underscored the significance of resilience, and Renesas utilized classes realized from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The earthquake that rocked northeastern Japan struck at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011. On the sixth ground of the Naka manufacturing facility, second-year staff attended a coaching session. The earthquake knocked over the desks within the convention room and workers screamed in worry. After the tremors subsided, folks had been evacuated to an open space on the manufacturing facility grounds. Luckily, there have been no casualties.
On the day of the earthquake, a lot of the manufacturing line was inaccessible as a result of an influence failure. Staff had been solely capable of examine what they may see by way of the home windows. The gear gave the impression to be intact. “There was no vital chaos on day one,” mentioned Hidehiko Kozawa, then normal supervisor of the manufacturing engineering division and now president of Renesas Semiconductor Manufacturing.
Chip making includes the usage of gases and different poisonous substances. Renesas gathered 100 manufacturing facility fuel detectors throughout the nation and started inspecting manufacturing facility clear rooms 10 days after the earthquake. As workers entered, they discovered lots of the plant’s 1,600 gear broken and the aisles affected by unfinished merchandise. A few of the partitions within the clear room had been broken. Some folks stood amazed in the midst of the wreckage. Kozawa thought it may take as much as six months to get the plant again up and working.
However the clients had been ready. Restoration work started in earnest on March 28. Engineers from automakers, suppliers and OEMs have come from all around the world to assist put issues again so as. On some days, as much as 2,500 folks had been engaged on the cleanup and restart. In all, 80,000 folks had been concerned. On the entrance hung an indication saying: “We are going to present the potential of Renesas.”
Throughout the restoration, an info sharing system referred to as the “giant corridor methodology” was adopted on the suggestion of Toyota engineers. A sheet of paper displaying the progress of the restoration was positioned on a wall within the boardroom used for morning and night conferences, with the dates and processes written in a matrix. Stickers marked the progress of the work. This made it straightforward for managers to see the place the hassle was lagging behind.
Every group reported points and others helped when bottlenecks emerged. This promoted each cooperation and pleasant competitors between the groups, serving to to hurry up the restoration effort. The big corridor methodology remains to be used as we speak within the factories of Renesas.
Manufacturing check for the Kizuna prototype – kizuna is Japanese for “emotional connection” – started April 23, and workers have confirmed the manufacturing line is up and working by the top of Might. The plant resumed manufacturing on June 1, nicely forward of the initially deliberate date of September 1. “My eyes lit up once I noticed the primary completed product after the earthquake,” Kozawa mentioned.
Nonetheless, the closure of the Naka plant created a scarcity of automotive microcontrollers, that are important for automotive manufacturing. The disruption compelled Renesas to revamp its enterprise continuity plan.
A complete of 10 billion yen ($ 92 million on the present change price) has been invested in factories throughout the nation to make firm buildings extra earthquake resistant. Along with earthquakes, different catastrophe dangers have been recognized, together with tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions and epidemics of infectious ailments. The aim was to create a “resilient manufacturing facility” that may be tough for Mom Nature to knock out and simple to restart.
The corporate additionally has a system in place that permits manufacturing to be transferred to different services if a manufacturing facility is broken. Throughout her company restructuring within the 2010s, Renesas lowered its manufacturing crops in Japan from 22 to 9. She additionally labored with contract chipmakers, reminiscent of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Firm (TSMC) to convey units up an alternate manufacturing system.
As well as, Renesas overhauled its stock administration system. Knowledge such because the variety of gadgets in inventory is now often shared with clients in order that they will rapidly and simply choose options within the occasion of a catastrophe.
With these and different adjustments, even throughout an earthquake measuring 6 or extra over Japan on a seismic depth scale of 0 to 7, electrical energy and fuel might be restored inside seven days. or much less, manufacturing can resume inside 30 days and manufacturing might be restored earlier than seismic capability in 60 days or much less.
Renesas’ new enterprise continuity plan was put to the check when a big earthquake hit the town of Kumamoto in southern Japan in April 2016. The primary earthquake, which measured just below 6 on the Japanese seismic depth scale, broken the corporate’s Kawajiri plant.
Aftershocks broke the ability’s chilly water piping and overturned some gear, however didn’t injury the cleanroom. Renesas was capable of get manufacturing again on line after eight days and pre-earthquake manufacturing capability was restored after 38 days. This was higher than the enterprise continuity plan, which supplied for 30 days to get a plant again up and working and 60 days to succeed in full capability.
However unexpected issues additionally arose. Ninety-seven Renesas suppliers, in addition to back-end semiconductor manufacturing contractors, had been additionally affected by the Kumamoto earthquake. In comparison with the Nice East Japan earthquake, a wider vary of provide chains have been affected.
The lesson from the Kumamoto earthquake is that it isn’t sufficient for particular person firms to have sturdy enterprise continuity plans. Renesas responded by working with exterior companions to formulate a enterprise continuity administration technique. In December 2016, it requested its suppliers to current catastrophe and different threat administration plans, restoration strategies and various provide strategies.
Renesas held working group conferences with contract producers in June 2017, sharing their experience in manufacturing earthquake-resistant installations. The Japan Affiliation of Electronics and Data Expertise Industries established a working group from 2016 to 2018 to ascertain guidelines for cooperation between enterprises, together with the provision of uncooked supplies, in case of earthquake. Earth.
Enhancing catastrophe preparedness is a unending course of. In 2020, the main focus was on responding to the novel coronavirus pandemic. A brand new idea, the “3Cs” – closed areas, crowded locations and locations of shut contact – has been added to the factories’ enterprise continuity plans.
The pandemic made it tough to consolidate workers into one place, as Renesas had achieved with the big rooms methodology adopted after the 2011 earthquake. The corporate restricted the variety of folks in every room, utilizing webcams to permit folks to satisfy nearly. To make sure that enterprise may proceed within the occasion of an outbreak, Renesas created A and B groups that may carry out the identical perform however not be in bodily contact with one another.
The newest earthquake off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in February additionally precipitated unexpected occasions. The buildings and gear had been hardly broken, however there was an influence failure that lasted greater than two hours.
The operation of the plant requires sufficient electrical energy to produce 70,000 houses. Consequently, the staff had no alternative however to attend for the facility to return. Luckily, the disruption was non permanent and manufacturing resumed on February 16. By February 21, manufacturing had returned to pre-earthquake ranges.
Because the early 2010s, Renesas has more and more used foundries like TSMC and just lately outsourced 30% of its semiconductor manufacturing. However with the present scarcity of automotive semiconductors and the stretched capability of foundries, the corporate has shifted a few of that manufacturing to its plant in Naka. Creating extra resilient provide chains requires fixed changes, together with the steadiness between foundry and in-house manufacturing.
“The vital factor is that we all know find out how to get issues again on monitor,” Kozawa mentioned. Even when the sudden occurs, the enterprise can bounce again rapidly. He can then look at the occasion and use it the following time. Renesas continues to construct her resilience, constructing on the teachings of the 2011 earthquake.