One of India’s most comprehensive software exporters, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), recently launched a new robotic process automation (RPA) solution for greater accuracy and reliability in chip fabrication. RPA will also help semiconductor businesses with digital transformation.
TCS has set up a unique Semiconductor Centre of Excellence (CoE) to design closed-loop systems that connect analytics and digitalization for the semiconductor value chain. CoE experts are engineering production robots, powered with intelligent algorithms, that will improve quality and efficiency in semiconductor manufacturing.
TCS’ Robotic Data Factory, created on Blue Prism’s Connected-RPA platform, will leverage production data to improve business workflow and reduce response times during semiconductor production.
“We are introducing our deep contextual knowledge obtained from engagements in the semiconductor business and harnessing the power of robotic automation to streamline business processes by using FAB data effectively,” said V Rajanna, global head, Technology Business Unit, TCS. “This will significantly jumpstart our consumers’ Business 4.0 transformation drives, with faster product introduction and enhanced quality.
Rajanna added: “Our new CoE reemphasizes our commitment to investing in establishing new digital paradigms for the semiconductor industry.”
Driven by big data, hyper-connectivity, and IoT adoption, the semiconductor market is changing rapidly. Manufacturers are trying to keep up through new business strategies, product line expansions, and an aggressive time-to-market focus.
“By connecting TCS’ semiconductor industry expertise and our Connected-RPA platform, we are able to modify operations and speed up product distribution in one of the most ambitious and vital industries in the world,” said Chad Gailey, VP, Channel Sales and Global Service Providers, Blue Prism Americas. “We are encouraging disruption and innovation by attempting an unbeatable value recommendation for deploying intelligent automation explications.”
Global shipments — of devices such as PCs, mobile phones, and tablets — are expected to hit 2.2 billion in 2019. All of these devices require semiconductor chips to function. Countries that successfully produce these chips have a powerful hold in the global economy.
Although India has done well in chip designs and electronics manufacturing, there have been challenges in setting up of Semiconductor Wafer Fabrication (FAB) assembly facilities. This is due to various factors, including loss of infrastructure and skilled labor in the country. It is also tough to compete with China and Vietnam, which typically offer chip manufacturers cost-efficient labor and production. This is one reason, for example, that Intel had no interest in beginning manufacturing in India — as the company stated in 2014.
However, there have been efforts to set up semiconductor FAB assemblies in India by private companies. Hindustan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (HSMC), a collection of companies that included ST Microelectronics and Silterra Malaysia, intended to start a chip manufacturing plant in Gujarat — a project meriting ₹30,000 crore. But this year, the government withdrew the letter of intent granted to HSMC, and the deal fell through. The reason: the consortium failed to present the required documents asked by the government for establishing the FAB unit.
This is unfortunate because AMD supported HSMC. The consortium also earned ₹700 crore in funding from Mumbai-based Next Orbit Ventures.
Then there was another cooperative, led by Jaiprakash Associates, which partnered with IBM and Tower Semiconductor of Israel to begin chip manufacturing in UP. However, in 2016, debt-ridden Jaiprakash (JP) Associates pulled out of the ₹34,000-crore.
If the only two private area consortiums cleared by the government to build large-scale chip manufacturing in India failed to succeed, then it’s one reason why the country is behind in the semiconductor industry.
ESDM in India
The Indian government has announced several subsidies and incentives for initiatives for setting up electronics manufacturing in the country. According to one survey, at the present rate of growth, the electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM) market will grow from USD 76 Bn in 2013 to USD 400 Bn by 2020.
The government has also allowed 100 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) under the automatic route in the ESDM sector. The FDI in electronic manufacturing reached an all-time high of Rs 1,23,000 crore (USD 18.34 Bn) in 2016 from about Rs 11,000 crore (USD 1.64 Bn) in 2014.
Fortunately, some companies are recognizing the potential of the ESDM sector in India and are investing in manufacturing. For example, Panasonic Corporation is incorporating a new plant in Haryana, which will produce refrigerators and build research and development (R&D) center for appliances in the country.
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