Chip Shortage can Increase Further After the Japanese Factory Fire

A fire broke out at the Japanese chip manufacturer Renesas. The damage is relatively limited but puts even more pressure on the global shortage in the chip sector.


Renesas’ N3 factory is located in Hitachinaka, about 100 kilometres from Japan and produces 300mm wafers. On March 19, at just before three in the morning local time, a fire broke out.

Initial investigation indicates a short circuit; the reason behind that short circuit will be further investigated. No one was injured in the fire, and the building is also undamaged, but a zone of 600m² was affected. That is about five percent of the cleanroom area on the first floor of the factory. Two percent of the factory material would have been destroyed.

Production lines in other buildings will remain operational, but all activities in N3 have been halted for the time being. The areas need to be cleaned again and some equipment replaced.

That sounds simple, but a cleanroom is a space where the chips production process takes place. As the name indicates, it is a space where no dust, dirty air or other disruptive factors may be present not to influence the production process. Cleaning such a space and making it operational again is slightly more extensive than average cleaning.

The question remains what the influence will be on the supply of chips. Renesas mainly produces chips for the automotive sector, where demand is currently much higher than supply. So much so that some major players have presently shut down their car production.

Renesas says two-thirds of production on N3 can be produced elsewhere in the plant. But it also indicates that due to the high demand for all kinds of chips, it cannot simply move its production to another line.

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