The last electronics trade show of the year has held starting December 14, for three days at Tokyo Big Sight. The slumping semiconductor market in Japan remains slow; however, I could be optimistic that the trade show would reveal some signs of an upturn for the industry.
Usually, the last day of the trade show is the busiest. Engineers and technical staff request half day or full day exception time to attend the show with hopes of discovering some new business or technology trends. This year was not too busy—there was no buzzing about new products and the exhibition halls were very quiet.
The amount of floor space reserved was almost the same as last year, but there were more exhibitors. The larger sized companies that always reserve space did not show up this year. A few of these no-shows were semiconductor companies, packaging companies and assemblers. On the other hand, many new faces that reserved smaller sized booths. These newcomers included smaller companies in the electronics manufacturing supply chain, students from local technical colleges, and many small companies organized through local government. Usually, these small companies and technical colleges have no chance to promote their products any other way, so it is a great opportunity for them with plenty of upside. One problem they have is the inability to communicate and promote at this type of venue. Their technological savvy is fine, but their presentation and promoting skills are lacking in their small booth space.
There were not many foreign visitors. This is a big change from 10 years ago, when there were huge numbers of visitors from Korea and Taiwan. Nowadays, Korean and Taiwanese companies are leaders in the market and no longer look to Japan for industry ideas or breakthroughs.
The common idea promoted by many companies was the Internet of Things (IoT). More than 50 companies presented something that involved IoT, and 50 more talked about IoT. However, the roadmap for IoT technology remains unclear, and presentations were not very helpful at clarifying. It looks that the exhibitors and speakers did not have clear ideas about IoT.
Disco Corporation, a precision tool maker from Japan, had the largest and one of the best exhibits at the show. The booth drew a lot of attention from seasoned engineers as well as ordinary visitors. Applied Materials, a global giant in the industry also had an impressive booth, but they did not display or promote any new products or technologies. The booth was all flash, and few people stopped to look. Probably, demonstration of Minimal Fab had the largest number of audience. A new technology concept called Minimal Fab drew the largest amount of attention at the show. The new semiconductor production system was organized by AIST for small volume and quick turn manufacturing of the new semiconductor devices.
I was hoping to discover some new products or technologies targeted at the packaging and assembling industry. Unfortunately, there were not companies promoting to this segment. The only thing I discovered was a small display focusing on a flexible substrate with 8-micron line/space provided by Raytech.
My itinerary was full this day, and I could not visit the entire show. What I did see was not new for the semiconductor industry in Japan, but there were a few signs of an improving business landscape.
Headlines of the week
1. Tektronix Japan (Major test equipment supplier in Japan) 12/1
Has unveiled a new series of measuring equipment that provide secure data for volume resistivity and surface resistivity.
2. AIST (Major R&D organization in Japan) 12/5
Has developed a new type of transistor for large scale ICs. The new mechanism of the device minimizes the power consumptions of the semiconductor devices.
3. Showa Shell Sekiyu (Major petro chemical company in Japan) 12/5
Has developed an artificial photosynthesis process that produces hydrocarbon molecules from water and carbon dioxide directly with 0.71% conversion rate.
4. Omron (Major device manufacturer in Japan) 12/5
Has commercialized a new human being sensor “HVC-F.” The new sensor detects the numbers and positions of human beings with high accuracy.
5. Idemitsu (Major petro-chemical company in Japan) 12/8
Plans to expand the manufacturing capacity of organic EL materials in Korea from 5 tons/year to eight tons per year to satisfy the strong demands in Korea.
6. Sharp (Major electronics company in Japan) 12/8
Has started the business supporting service for the volume production of IoT venture companies.
7. Kyocera (Major electronics company in Japan) 12/12
Has developed the smallest hybrid home battery system with a large capacity (12kWh) introducing lithium ion batteries.
8. Sekisui Chemical (Major chemical company in Japan) 12/12
Has started the business of the film base lithium ion batteries with large capacity. The battery was authorized by Kyocera’s solar power system.
9. DNP (Major printing company inn Japan) 12/13
Will strengthen the photomask business for the next generation semiconductor manufacturing. The multi beam drawing system will realize 10 nanometers.
10. AIST (Major R&D organization in Japan) 12/13
Has developed a new non-contact measuring technology for the moisture of the agriculture products using electromagnetic wave.
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