LONDON – Hanking Group (Shenyang, China), a mining and metal processing conglomerate in the north-east of China, has begun building what could become a major wafer fab for the manufacture of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
Hanking is looking to make inertial sensors and silicon membrane microphones which are all in high demand in China, but has also talked about tire pressure monitor sensors and microfluidic MEMS for medical applications. China currently imports almost all the MEMS devices used in the high volumes of electronic equipment made in the country. The company should be able to find ready buyers at Chinese system makers for the components which would be lower cost than imported MEMS due to an absence of duties and lower labor costs.
The group has created a wholly-owned subsidiary, Hanking Electronics Co. Ltd., as the means to achieve its goal and recruited MEMS industry veteran Doug Sparks as executive vice president to help execute the plan. Sparks reports to Lucy Huang, president and CEO.
Construction of the wafer fab started in March 2012 in Fushun about 40 miles east of Shenyang. The buildings will sit in the Hanking MEMS Industrial Park (HMIP) which occupies about 160 acres in Fushun Economic Development Zone and for which the roads were laid out during the 2011 construction season, Sparks said.
Hanking has committed to spend 3 billion yuan (about $475 million) on three phases of development there. Although Sparks is looking to install 200-mm equipment initially, the building is being made "compatible with 300-mm wafer production," he said. The transition to 300-mm wafer processing for MEMS, something not yet done by any manufacturers in the MEMS sector, would come in a few years, Sparks predicted.
The first phase of the MEMS wafer fab will be capable of producing about 4,000 200-mm wafer starts per month in 2014, Sparks said. "We'll have the back-end processing – things like electroplating and bulk etch going by 2013 – It may be another year before we have everything running," he said.
But Sparks is not too concerned about delays. Hanking is into MEMS for the long haul and has money to spend, he said. China Hanking Holdings Ltd., one of the affiliates of the Hanking Group, was admitted to the Hong Kong stock exchange in September 2011 and declared a net profit of 670.6 million yuan (about $106 million) on sales revenue of 1.45 billion yuan (about $230 million) for 2011. However, Sparks said total group annual revenue is about $550 million.