A group pictures with staff of Infineon, representatives from IEL and NUS students
Explore-Eng Infineon Technologies
2nd November 2016
We often take the technology around us for granted and fail to realize the complex systems at work. At the heart much of these technology are powerful semi-conductors such as those made by Infineon Technologies. As part of the Explore Engineering series, 30 students from NUS had the opportunity to visit Infineon’s ‘shop floor’ first-hand, and learn more about the company during a visit to the regional headquarters located off Kallang Way.
Infineon has operations worldwide and about 35,000 employees, and while its semi-conductors are not produced in Singapore, the Singapore office specializes in testing Infineon’s most advanced products. It was this that students got to see during the visit to the ‘shop floor’, a three-level facility in which chips are put through testing machines to ensure that they have been built to the highest standard and that they would continue working even in extreme conditions. Examples of applications of such semi-conductors include battery management chips found in mobile phone to monitor battery use, and identification chips found in passports.
A highlight of the visit was seeing Infineon’s latest technologies in use as part of their ‘smart factory’ initiative, in which processes are being increasingly automated in an effort to increase efficiency and productivity at the company. It is also to ensure the welfare of staff, who may have difficulty carrying out physical tasks as they grow older. An example of innovation is a transport and storage system throughout the facility. In the past, operators had to manually cart around heavy and bulky boxes of chips that are to undergo testing. However, there is now an automated conveyor belt and storage system with a capacity of 9000 crates which delivers the right boxes to the testers at the machine, eliminating the need for staff to physically move around these boxes.
Another example is an automatic-loader system for the testing of chips. While staff previously had to insert chips into a testing board manually, a tedious and delicate process, it has now been automated with the help of customized machines. Even so, more technology is on the way to being implemented including autonomous guided vehicles that will operate in the facility.
Sebastian Shen, a graduate student in Supply Chain Management, especially enjoyed the tour to the testing facility. He said “I’m from the software industry so this is my first time entering a manufacturing line. It’s great to see the adoption of technology in within the factory floor and how they are helping the aging workforce.”
Students also had the opportunity to hear from the experiences of company staff, including experts from the Development Centre during a panel discussion. They shared on their work in the company as well as skills that university students would need as they graduate into the work-force. Staff from the Human Resources department also shared with students possible opportunities within the company including internships and leadership programs. Carrie Lin, a Chemical Engineering undergraduate, said: “The panel discussion was helpful in helping us better understand the right attitudes (required for the job) and (hearing about) the work, life and health balance of Infineon’s employees was pretty encouraging.”
The students left with a new-found knowledge of the workings of the company, and a great appreciation for the tiny chips inside such ubiquitous devices and technology.
Students dressed in smocks during the visit to the ‘shop floor’