Bosch opens €1bn semiconductor plant in Dresden

Production will begin ahead of schedule at Bosch’s new semiconductor manufacturing plant, which was opened today in Dresden, Germany.

Cleanroom at Dresden (Image: Bosch)

The €1bn plant will start producing chips for Bosch power tools in July, six months ahead of schedule, followed by chips for the automotive sector in September, 2021.

Dr. Volkmar Denner, chairman of the board of management, Robert Bosch GmbH, said the new AIoT factory (combining internet of things with artificial intelligence) provides Bosch with a fully connected, data-driven, self-optimising manufacturing facility.

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“With AI, we are taking production to the next level,” Dr Denner said during the opening ceremony. “In our Dresden plant, we will in the future be relying on solutions provided by the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence: at an early stage, our AI-based systems can detect anomalies and malfunctions in the manufacturing process, make learning curves faster, and constantly enhance quality. AI is also used in production scheduling, where it saves time and money as it guides the wafers through as many as 700 process steps at some 100 machines.”

He continued: “In our plant, we are permanently collecting and examining data – this data comes to the equivalent of 500 pages of text a second, or 42 million pages a day. Smart algorithms are used to evaluate this data in real time. This too is a key to the rapid rollout of semiconductor production in our new factory.”

Maintenance at the site will benefit also from AI with algorithms predicting whether and when a piece of manufacturing machinery or a robot needs maintenance or adjustment. The use of data glasses and augmented reality will allow maintenance work on machinery to be carried out remotely, a factor that helped during commissioning despite coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

Underpinning the operation is the plant’s digital twin comprised of around 500,000 3D objects including buildings and infrastructure, supply and disposal systems, cable ducts and ventilation systems, and machinery and manufacturing lines. According to Bosch, this capability allows it to simulate process optimisation plans and renovation work without intervening in ongoing operations.

A total of 250 staff are working at the Dresden plant but this is expected to rise to around 700 in the years ahead.

“With this investment, we are strengthening Germany as a technological and industrial location,” said Dr Denner. “In its wafer fabs in Reutlingen and Dresden alone, Bosch has invested more than €2.5bn since 200mm technology was introduced.”