Bosch to expand semiconductor fab in Reutlingen again

Bosch to expand semiconductor fab in Reutlingen again

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Bosch is shifting up a gear in its response to the ongoing semiconductor shortage: with an additional investment of more than a quarter of a billion euros until 2025, the technology company plans to further expand its semiconductor production in Reutlingen. The money is to be invested in new spaces and the design of the cleanroom needed for production.

With this investment – the second major one after the announcement of investments in production expansion in past October, totalling 400 million euros – Bosch wants to prepare for the steadily growing demand for chips for applications in mobility and the Internet of Things. At the Reutlingen location near Stuttgart, a new part of the building is being built with an additional 3,600 square metres of ultra-modern cleanroom space. Semiconductors based on the technologies already established in Reutlingen will be manufactured there – mainly MEMS ASICs and power semiconductors. In addition, the company wants to expand an existing power supply centre. Production on the new premises is scheduled to begin in 2025.

As recently as October 2021, Bosch announced investments of more than 400 million euros in 2022 alone in the expansion of its semiconductor sites in Dresden, Reutlingen and Penang, Malaysia. Around 50 million euros of this will go to the semiconductor plant in Reutlingen. For Reutlingen, Bosch had already announced that it would invest a total of 150 million euros in additional cleanroom space in existing buildings from 2021 to 2023. The now planned expansion of the site with a new part of the building for manufacturing is additional. Overall, the cleanroom area in Reutlingen is to be expanded from currently around 35,000 square metres to more than 44,000 square metres by the end of 2025.

In Reutlingen, Bosch operates semiconductor fabs based on 150- and 200-millimetre wafers. In Dresden, the company manufactures semiconductor chips on wafers with a diameter of 300 millimetres. What all the manufacturing factories have in common is a state-of-the-art approach to data-driven production control.

“Thanks to the combination of networking and artificial intelligence methods, Bosch is creating the basis for data-driven, continuous improvement in production and thus for ever better chips,” says Markus Heyn, member of the board of management of Robert Bosch GmbH and chairman of the Mobility Solutions business sector. One example is the development of software for automated defect classification. Bosch is also optimising the flow of materials with the help of artificial intelligence. The manufacturing environment in Reutlingen, which is already regarded as highly modern, is to secure the future of the location and thus jobs with a high degree of automation.

Bosch has been developing and manufacturing semiconductors for more than 60 years, and in Reutlingen for more than 50 years – both for automotive applications and for the consumer sector. The chips produced include application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), microelectromechanical systems (MEMS sensors) and power semiconductors. The additional expansion of the site that is now being considered is intended to serve the growing demand for MEMS for the automotive and consumer sectors as well as for silicon carbide power semiconductors in the future. “Bosch is already a leading chip manufacturer for vehicles. We want to further expand this position,” says Heyn. This includes the development and production of silicon carbide chips, which Bosch began mass producing in December 2021. Chips made of this innovative material will play an increasingly important role in electromobility in the future. Bosch is currently the only automotive supplier in the world to manufacture power semiconductors from silicon carbide itself.

Presently, some 8,000 associates work at the Reutlingen site in the development and production of semiconductors and control units, as well as in administration and in the eBike Systems division.

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