Global semiconductor association SEMI has called for its industry to be designated as an "essential business" during the Covid-19 pandemic to maintain the chip supply chain.
SEMI President and CEO Ajit Manocha sent letters to the governors of 16 US states and the chairs of the National Governors Association, US Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, and National Association of Counties asking for the designation.
Manocha claimed the companies “are employing all measures necessary to maintain the health and safety of their employees and local communities,” although all travel and potential interaction increases the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Keeping it cleanroom
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) identified “manufacturers and supply chain vendors that provide hardware and software, and information technology equipment (to include microelectronics and semiconductors) for critical infrastructure as ‘essential critical infrastructure workers.’” But the designation is an advisory guideline that state and local officials can choose to follow.
On Friday, SEMI issued a statement “calling on all governments to specify semiconductor industry operations as ‘essential infrastructure’ and/or ‘essential business’ to allow continuity in operations.”
The association is concerned that due to the highly interconnected nature of semiconductor supply chains, "restrictions in one region can compromise production in others, leading to inefficiencies and breakdowns that cascade across the supply chain."
US-only trade body Semiconductor Industry Association echoed the call for an essential designation. "Semiconductor industry cleanroom operations minimize the risk of virus transmission due to higher levels of automation and the cleanroom environment on the factory floor," SIA said in a document about the pandemic.
"Cleanrooms, which can cover thousands of square meters, are specially constructed facilities where contaminants, including airborne particulates, are eliminated through specialized filtration and tight controls of air flow, air pressure, temperature, and humidity."