The largest global automotive supplier, Bosch today inaugurated one of the world’s most modern wafer fabs in Dresden, Germany. The factory is highly automated with fully connected machines and integrated processes, which combined with artificial intelligence (AI) will make the plant one of the trailblazers in Industry 4.0, the company has claimed.
The plant was inaugurated in the virtual presence of Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Margrethe Vestager, Vice President, EU Commission and Michael Kretschmer, Minister-President, Saxony.
Semiconductors are a core technology for Bosch, and it is strategically important for the company to develop and manufacture them, said Dr Volkmar Denner, Chairman of the Board of Management, Robert Bosch GmbH. This is Bosch’s first AIoT factory, one that is fully connected, data-driven, and self-optimising right from the start, he said. Wafer fabrication is a procedure used to produce complete electrical or photonic circuits on semiconductor wafers.
Massive investments over years
Bosch is investing roughly € 1 billion in the Dresden facility, which incidentally is its biggest single investment in the company’s more than 130-year history. The company has been able to achieve production readiness in the plant almost six months ahead of schedule. In July, Bosch will start making semiconductors in the new plant, which will be installed in Bosch power tools. Chip production for automotive customers, meanwhile, will begin in September – three months earlier than planned.
The workforce at the new facility is set to grow to roughly 700 from the existing 250, once construction work is completed. The plant is spread over an area of 72,000 sq m.
Bosch’s focus on microelectronics isn’t new. The company, in fact, started making semiconductor components since 1958, and has been making special components that are not commercially available at its Reutlingen plant since 1970.
Since the 200 mm technology was introduced in 2010, Bosch has invested more than € 2.5 billion in its wafer fabs in Reutlingen and Dresden alone, said the company.
On top of this, billions of euros have been invested in developing microelectronics. In this way, the company is continuing to pursue its growth strategy in semiconductor development and manufacturing. “This expertise is the key to many high-calibre systems solutions made by Bosch,” Denner said.