Less semiconductor manufacturing is a European competitive concern, Germans say

VDMA: Engineering industry relies on intelligent electronics made in Europe. Semiconductor production sites in Europe are important for the engineering industry, says the federation of German engineers.


Frankfurt, Germany – Technological innovations in the machinery industry, and thus the competitiveness of the engineering sector as a whole increasingly depend on the application of intelligent electronics, says the German Engineering Federation, VDMA. Access to customer specific microchips could be threatened witha vanishing European semiconductor industry, the organization says. "Up to now this latent danger has not yet been perceived as such by most of our industry players, but in the long run it could become an Achilles' heel. This must be avoided," says Thilo Brodtmann, vice executive director of the German Engineering Federation, VDMA.
VDMA says that from intelligent hydraulic components to machine controls and up to entire production flows in factory logistics– electronics and data processing have long become basic components for innovations in the machinery industry. Logic, sensors, actuators, RFID-chips, embedded systems – the demand for customer specific semiconductor components in the machinery industry is increasing constantly. The European semiconductor industry is able to produce small lot sizes, and reliably guarantees capacities as well as the protection of intellectual property rights.
Therefore, VDMA continues, the machinery industry notices with concern the increasing trend to transfer semiconductor production to non-European countries. The close co-operation between semiconductor industry and the European investment goods industry which is vital for innovation processes on both sides would be severely threatened by such an extensive relocation of production.
High-technology manufacturing supports research, competitiveness
"We fear that the respective research activities in Europe too will completely disappear after the production of semiconductors has been relocated. This might strongly affect the competitiveness of our companies," advises Brodtmann. Moreover, investments already spent on research and development, as well as the education and training of skilled personnel would be threatened by continuing relocation.
Therefore, it is important that the EU advocates fair conditions in global competition, and that it works for an industry friendly environment which makes the production of high-tech in Europe more favorable, VDMA says, which also would create the necessary conditions for the continuation of semiconductor production in Europe.
The German Engineering Federation says it represents more than 3,000 companies in the engineering industry. With about 975,000 employees all over Germany and a sales turnover of 205 billion Euros (in 2008) the industry is the biggest employer and one of the leading sectors of the German industry, VDMA says.
VDMA also reported recently: German machine tools orders fall .
- Edited by Mark T. Hoske , editor in chief, Control Engineering News Desk, www.controleng.com

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