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Japanese chip plant back online after lightning strike

Renesas factory experienced worst voltage drop in decade – shutting down production lines

A factory belonging to Japanese semiconductor manufacturer Renesas is back online after a lightning strike forced it to shut down for a week.

The facility was struck during Typhoon Aere in the early morning of July 5. The strike hit a power line feeding the factory, which caused an instant voltage drop, stopped production, and partially destroyed products already on the Kawashiri plant production line.

The company had contingency measures in place, including uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), but the drop was so bad that 90 percent of production equipment had to be temporarily suspended anyway. Renesas said the voltage drop lasted longer than any other incident in the past decade.

On Monday, July 11, the company announced it had again reached full production. Overall the plant scrapped one week's worth of chips after initially predicting they would lose two weeks.

"We are continuously moving forward to recover these shortfalls," said Renesas.

The chip maker, which is a key supplier for automakers like Toyota and Honda, is no stranger to handling disasters at its factories. A blaze last year significantly affected 17 fabrication machines at a 300mm wafer facility. In March, an earthquake shut down operations at three factories, although it was overcome quickly.

Semiconductors remain in relatively short supply worldwide, although some research outfits have claimed the market has plateaued and others are predicting the industry is en route for a course correction.

Renesas reported over 70 percent year-on-year revenue growth in Q1 2022. The company is expected to release its Q2 results on July 28. ®

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