Hi-tech giant AT&S secret to success
During their first press conference in Kuala Lumpur last October, they were in praises for the Malaysian government and Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) for fast approvals and transparency.
But do they still feel the same?
AT&S managing director for Malaysia, Vittorio Villari acknowledged that the price of certain building materials has gone up due to sudden demand after a two-year lockdown.
But he said it is still within their budget as they booked the materials way before the rising demand.
"Perhaps it may have gone up by 10 to 15 per cent but it is still within the budget and the materials are delivered on time," he told Sinar Daily.
AT&S is aiming to start the first batch of their high-end integrated circuit (IC) substrates by end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.
The integrated circuits substrates provide connections between silicon dies and the main board and are used for cloud edge computing, data centres, server farms, and consumer devices.
Blue collar, skilled labour vacancies
As for now 20 to 25 per cent of the construction at Kulim Hi-Tech is almost completed, Villari said, adding that they have about 3,000 construction workers and are looking at employing another 3,000 as the construction work progresses.
As any other employer, they too are concerned over the shortage in blue collar and skilled manpower as they look to employ 6,000 workers but have taken steps to solve their concerns by organising road shows and seeking assistance from the northern state corridor for talent and manpower.
Villari said they will be sending 350 local technicians to their plants in Chongqing and Shanghai in China for training.
They are also in talks with local universities and polytechnics for hire.
Was it a wise decision to open the biggest plant here?
Its Chief Operating Officer Ingolf Schroeder said the country and location were preselected as Malaysia has a well-established semiconductor supply chain for the past 50 years.
He told Sinar Daily that sometimes the orders are from Malaysia and it saves them on transport.
"There is already an existing supply chain here," he added.
As all 3,000 construction workers clock into work for the day while their bosses ensure every step and process is followed through diligently, Schroeder said they are happy with the progress and with the local authorities for fast approvals and understanding their needs to fulfil the demands of global semiconductor supply.
Secret to success
The company keeps 10 per cent of its yearly revenue for research and development and it has helped them to stay ahead in developing top niche technology, said Schroeder.
With plants in Austria, China, India and Korea, AT&S is worth €1.6 billion with estimates its revenue to rise to €3 billion by 2025-2026 with the expansion plant in Kulim.
In Malaysia, Schroeder said they are planning to work with local universities to train people in IC substrate technology and to help create a skilled labour force.
The Kulim plant will also be equipped with a water treatment plant to filter chemicals from the production plant and to be reused for production.
As for electricity, they are looking at using solar power and are willing to share with the Malaysian government on renewal energy.
"As we look to recycling everything here, there is a huge potential in renewable energy which we are open for discussion with the government, he said, adding that they are here for the long term and are eager to expand their business here.