LONDON Atmel is ramping up production at its UK semiconductor manufacturing facility to meet growing customer demand. The company's North Tyneside fabrication plant, in the North East of England, has just hit its milestone of producing 50 million silicon chips per month and is set to reach 60 million a month by the year end.
Last week the company secured a Government grant of £1.2million to help fund an expansion of semiconductor design activities in Scotland.
Craig McInnes, Atmel's North Tyneside managing director, said: “Just this year we have achieved a three-fold increase in the number of units produced per employee. That is a fantastic effort by any industry's standards.”
Atmel bought the former Siemens facility in September 2000 and said then that it expected to eventually employ 1500 people at the site. In February year it announced a further £100million this year, in North Tyneside, where it has so far spent £350million with plans to recruit 150 people, taking its workforce to 650.
The increased production, mainly to support Atmel's rapidly growing smart card IC business and its capacity provides significant back-up to plants in Rousset, France and Colorado Springs, USA.
North Tyneside has become the company's flagship production site for secure smartcard ICs manufacture alongside other microcontroller and memory chips. Atmel says the smartcard market is growing exponentially due to ever-increasing demand for secure internet banking, smart credit cards, mobile phone SIM cards and secure personal ID cards.
Atmel North Tyneside is also manufacturing microcontrollers for a wide range of industrial, consumer and automotive products. The fabrication plant also produces chips for mobile phone cameras, computers and other telecommunications products.
Siemens closed the DRAM fab in 1998 with the loss of 1,100 jobs after just over a year of production.