UK IC assembly and test facility faces closure

UK IC assembly and test facility faces closure

Business news |
By eeNews Europe

The plant – one of the last facilities in Europe able to do full assembly production and test from wafers in, through initial probing and on to die-bonding and packaging – looks set to close unless investors can be found to fund a rescue buyout.

Andrew Perry, general manager of Unisem’s Crumlin facility told eeNews Europe that he is in discussions with a couple of interested parties but there is nothing definite.

According to local reports quoting a Unisem Group spokesperson there has been a significant drop in orders and revenues for the Welsh facility since 2010. A staff reduction affecting 15 people in November 2012 did not do enough to stem costs and forward sales projections show no significant improvement, the reports said.

The site has about 8,000 square meters of production space and Class 1,000 clean rooms. The plant was designed for up to 1,100 workers and to operate 24 hours a day. "We only occupy about 25 percent of the space," said Perry.

The purpose-built facility opened in 1995 and Unisem in Wales has been provided packaging and test services to small volume semiconductor manufacturers and startups since it acquired it in 2004. The service is not available elsewhere in Europe and getting support from southeast Asia for small volume requirements is likely to be difficult and expensive, Perry said.

He added that the despite the fact that the European Commission has plans to support the chip manufacturing value chain vital skills in packaging and test could be about to disappear from Europe.

He pointed out that a number of European companies started by getting their chips packaged at Crumlin. "CSR, Bluetooth, started here. Wolfson started here. We have developed microfluidic ported packages for DNA sequencing here," said Perry. MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) is one of the more specialized packaging and testing capabilities developed at Crumlin.

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