Production at Hsinchu Science Park unaffected by quakes

Friday, June 15, 2012
The China Post news staff

All the major firms operating in the Hsinchu Science Park claimed yesterday that their production lines were not affected by the earthquakes which hit Hsinchu County on Wednesday. AU Optronics Corp. (AUO), however, the largest local maker of flat display panels, suspended its plant in Longtan Township of neighboring Taoyuan County to check whether its production facilities were affected by the quakes.

Three quakes measuring 3.9, 4.4, and 4.9 on the Richter Scale hit the mountainous Jianshih Township in Hsinchu County on Wednesday, while another measuring 3.7 rocked the county's Guansi Township the following morning.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world's largest wafer foundry service provider, said that the firm's wafer foundry facilities in the Hsinchu Science Park were not affected by the quakes, with its daily wafer output remaining at the normal level of 30,000 to 40,000 pieces on Wednesday. There was also a normal, single-digit number of broken pieces.

A TSMC spokesman said the firm's highly sensitive wafer fabrication equipment would automatically stop operations in case of an earthquake, but the situation was soon back to normal after the quake, indicating the equipment was not damaged and its shipments were not affected.

Meanwhile, United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) and Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp., an affiliate of TSMC, also stressed that their production and shipments managed to remain normal despite the quakes.

The Hsinchu Science Park Administration said that the wafer foundry equipment may break down in cases of power outages or earthquakes measuring 6.0 or higher, but this wasn't the case on Wednesday.

Administration officials said that TSMC's wafer foundry equipment can survive quakes measuring 6.0 to 7.0 on the Richter Scale, and the UMC's can withstand those with a scale of 6.0. Even if the precision of the equipment is affected, it can be easily adjusted without causing any disruptions to production.

Meanwhile, professor Wu Yi-ming of the Department of Geosciences at National Taiwan University said that the Hsinchu Science Park, home to nearly 40 high-tech firms, has come through the series of quakes well, and that the vast majority of manufacturing plants feature anti-quake designs.

AUO Suspends Plant for Post-quake Inspection

By contrast, leading display panel maker AUO yesterday morning suspended all the production lines of its Longtan plant to facilitate thorough inspections of its production equipment. The plant is expected to resume operations after the check is completed. The short-term suspension is not expected to have any major impact on AUO's business operations, company sources said.

Another major display panel maker, Chimei Innolux Corp., said its plant in Hsinchu County's Jhunan Township was little affected by the Wednesday quakes. The plant launched a protection mechanism to suspend operation of some sensitive facilities immediately after the quakes occurred, and the facilities soon resumed operation without undermining production capacity.

In related news, the Central Weather Bureau said more small-scale earthquakes might jolt Taiwan in the coming few days after six temblors with magnitudes of between 3.6 and 4.9 struck northern and eastern parts of the country over the past couple of days.

In addition, the bureau said that all of the most recent temblors had shallow epicenters, which meant they had a higher-than-usual intensity and were felt strongly by local residents.

The bureau's Seismology Center, however, described all of the quakes as being normal releases of tectonic energy and stressed that there is no need for panic.

At around noon Thursday, two earthquakes with magnitudes of 4.1 and 3.6 shook Eastern Taiwan's Hualien County, the center said.

Taiwan is an earthquake-prone area. More than 30 earthquakes have rocked Taiwan so far this month, the strongest of which measured 6.5 and was centered under the seabed off Eastern Taiwan on June 10. None of the quakes have caused casualties or major damage.

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