Ferrotec to play bigger role in upgrading China’s manufacturing industry
Ferrotec has nine manufacturing plants across China and sees great potential in growing with the expansion of the nation’s economy
[Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports www.discoveryreports.com]
Taking chances is usually not for the faint of heart, but for Ferrotec vice-president He Xianhan, doing so has paid off greatly. When he was invited by founder Akira Yamamura to join a company that was young yet full of potential, He took it as an opportunity to showcase what he could do to help the company grow.
Just as Yamamura is scholarly by nature, He also placed great importance on his education. A graduate of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, He pursued a doctorate degree from Waseda University.
While finishing his studies and building up his credentials to become a professor, He crossed paths with Yamamura, who at that time was seeking a trustworthy candidate to oversee Ferrotec’s China operations.
Choosing He proved to be the right decision for Yamamura. It was under He’s leadership that Ferrotec was able to mass-produce thermoelectric modules, a technology originating from the United States.
To say that this is an impressive feat is an understatement as there was no available knowledge at that time to manufacture thermoelectric modules, let alone mass-produce them.
From a manufacturing hub, China gradually grew in importance as a promising growth market for Ferrotec. The company hit the right stride when it entered the photovoltaic business in China in 2004, especially as the country’s solar-electric panel industry started challenging the global status quo on pricing.
“In the 1980s, we initially invested in manufacturing in China. But today, the market itself has become huge and that’s why we are heavily investing in the country. Especially with the ‘Made in China 2025’ initiative, Ferrotec sees itself as a contributor to helping the country realise its vision of upgrading its manufacturing industry,” he says.
With nine manufacturing sites in China alone, Ferrotec has ample capacity to serve the needs of the Chinese market – particularly for the advanced materials and components used in semiconductor equipment, which is a continuously blossoming industry in the country.
Prior to Ferrotec’s entry to China, most semiconductor material was manufactured in the US and Japan. When Ferrotec opened shop in China, the company was ready to serve the requirements of the local players. Ferrotec first worked with Toshiba Ceramics and manufactured 4- to 6-inch silicon wafers for the company.
Anticipating the growth of the semiconductor industry in China, Ferrotec further invested in expanding its capacity to manufacture 8-inch silicon wafers. After a year of testing, Ferrotec is now able to produce 150,000 pieces of 8-inch silicon wafers monthly.
“We believe that Ferrotec has a great potential of growing accordingly with the expansion of the Chinese economy. We have the ability to analyse promptly what the governmental objectives are and can create either a horizontal-integrated solution offering or a vertical-integrated expansion. Having said all that, we have a great future in and beyond China,” says vice-president Takeru Yamamura.
Looking to manufacture 850,000 silicon wafers per month by 2021, Ferrotec has partnered with Taiwanese firm Global Wafers to further boost its capacity and expertise in producing wafers ranging from small diameters to larger
8-inch silicon wafers.
Furthermore, Ferrotec might consider developing a program for 12-inch wafers manufacturing.
Ferrotec is also looking to help boost the local semiconductor industry in China by offering its expertise in process tool parts cleaning.
To date, the company has four cleaning facilities on the mainland and is aiming to raise this number to six to corner 60 per cent of the semiconductor and FPD cleaning market.
“Ferrotec has a long history and extensive experience. We trust that we definitely have a bright future in China. He Xianhan took the Japanese mentality and transplanted it to China, and this has served as a good foundation for Ferrotec. We are always looking for new businesses and new markets,” Takeru Yamamura says.