Used semiconductor equipment?

By Alfed Lee, The China Post

Taiwan’s market for used semiconductor production equipment was worth 100 billion Japanese yen last year, much larger than the actual transaction of 25 billion Japanese yen, according to Kaz Sato, chief executive officer of Intertec Group of Japan, which is the largest renovated semiconductor production equipment supplier in Japan.

He anticipates that the market value for this year will be similar to that of last year.

Total sales of renovated semiconductor production equipment in Taiwan last year were almost the same as that in Japan. Sales of all the renovated used semiconductor production equipment last year were 500 billion Japanese yen, or 10 percent of all sales of both new and renovated semiconductor production equipment. Kato said the figures were based on statistics compiled by the VLSI Research Inc. of the U.S. Intertec Japan, with last year’s sales totaling US$30 million, was rated by Japan Semiconductor Venture Association (JSVA) among the top 10 of the most promising enterprises in Japan. JSVA is a group consisting of 120 Japanese companies in the semiconductor-related business. The Intertec Group of Japan launched the first renovated semiconductor equipment B2B Web site to promote sales of used semiconductor production equipment in Taiwan. Used semiconductor production equipment if not maintained and recycled properly would create environmental problems, the Japanese stressed. But if used semiconductor production equipment were maintained, overhauled, and restored to its original state with good after-sale services, the equipment can still generate substantial profits for those companies which need production equipment. Citing an example, Kato said that after the joint venture of Acer Texas in Taiwan suspended production of memory chips, the used equipment was renovated and sold to manufacturers in Japan. In the past individual brokers simply served as a bridge between the buyers and sellers of the production equipment, and did not provide maintenance and renovation services. It made buying from individual brokers risky. Seeing the need for maintenance and renovation services, Intertec is bolstering its presence in Taiwan by establish a technical center, warehouse, and two companies so that Intertec Taiwan has the capability to provide whole production lines of semiconductor equipment.

For upgrading its services and operations in Taiwan, Intertec’s investment in Taiwan will reach NT$50 million next year and NT$200 million in 2003. The B2B Web site of Intertec is the first site in the world promoting sales of renovated semiconductor production equipment. If a channel between the sellers and buyers of used semiconductor production equipment could be established, Taiwan’s transaction of used semiconductor production equipment would have reached 100 billion Japanese yen last year, Kato stated. The Taiwan arm of Intertec Japan is, named after a hardworking businesswoman of a TV drama series. Intertec will also make investments in Taiwan for reworking color filters which were slightly damaged during production process of TFT-LCD (thin film transistor liquid crystal display). Currently it has a capacity for reworking 6,000 to 7,000 pieces of color filters per month. By the end of this year, the capacity will reach 10,000 pieces, according to Liu Wen Ben, president of Intertec Taiwan.

The company’s products include aligners, steppers, inspection systems, ashers, CVD, sputters, ion implantors, diffusion furnace, and etchers.

Its customers include nearly all the major semiconductor makers in the world such as IBM, Motorola, Fujitsu, Mitsibishi, Texas Instruments, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., and United Microelectronics Corp.