Japanese chipmaker Renesas resumes production at fire-damaged plant


Japanese chipmaker Renesas Electronics Corp. restarted production of chips on Saturday at a fire-hit factory, one month after the accident happened, media reported amid a global semiconductor shortage related to the fire and increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sources close to the matter told Kyodo news agency that the company repaired cleanrooms, which are essential for the production of chips.

Renesas had to halt its production of microcontrollers used to power cars and control units because a fire broke out at the Ibaraki prefecture plant in the northeast of Tokyo on March 19. It is believed the fire was caused by an electricity overload and burned an area of 600 square meters (6,458 square feet).

The company estimates it will take up to 100 days from the day of the accident to resume production to what it was like before the fire.

The automotive industry faced a global semiconductor crisis triggered by the increasing demand for digital products that require chips due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Leading carmakers like Toyota Motor Corp. were also affected by the shortage.

In a meeting with United States president Joe Biden on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga agreed the two countries will “partner on sensitive supply chains, including on semiconductors, promoting and protecting the critical technologies that are essential to our security and prosperity.”

Renesas President Hidetoshi Shibata is said to hold a press conference on Monday with more information on the status of the plant to come then.