South Korean semiconductor display equipment maker SFA is looking to supply the Over Head Transport (OHT) equipment for moving semiconductor wafers, which is currently mostly supplied by Japan’s Daifuku Technology.
“We have finished building the OHT pilot lines, and have also achieved technology certification,” said Kim Young-min, the CEO of SFA.
He also said the firm is in talks with potential partners on mass production lines, most likely referring to getting into new facilities at local chipmaking companies.
This means SFA may soon supply the equipment to one of them, according to industry sources. They cited SK hynix as a potential partner, since Samsung is already using the OHT provided by its sister company Semes.
“Revenues are expected to surpass 500 billion won when the OHT is installed in the entire upper half of a two-story plant,” said one industry watcher.
OHT is a type of robot used to transport the FOUP containing wafers along the rails lining the plant ceilings. The competitiveness of the machine lies in how quickly it can move, while creating as less noise and dust as possible. SFA plans to apply AI technology to improve efficiency by up to 10%.
Market experts predict that if SFA succeeds in commercializing its OHT lines, Daifuku could lose major business from South Korea.
Daifuku Technology is currently the largest OHT maker in the market. Established 1937, the firm is ranked as the world’s largest plant automation solution provider. It supplies to major companies like Samsung and SK hynix, not to mention the likes of Intel and TSMC.
“Of the 4 trillion won of annual sales raised by Daifuku, around 600 billion won to a 1 trillion won is from South Korea,” said Kim of SFA.
Meanwhile, Samsung installed Semes’ OHT in its Pyeongtaek 1 line in 2016, and is likely to keep applying the Semes equipment whenever the need arises.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.