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Bottom Line: How GlobalFoundries Makes Microchips During Lockdown

Monday, June 15, 2020   (0 Comments)

Since March, entering this massive campus — bigger than most Vermont towns — has required a new kind of pass code. A skeleton crew of more than 1,000 masked workers lines up each day before one of three gatekeepers to have their temperatures read by an infrared thermometer. Once they pass the test, the employees put on head-to-toe protective garments. Then they walk onto the floor, a labyrinthine, controlled environment where they begin their "essential" day's work that continues unabated through the coronavirus pandemic.

This campus is not a hospital, and these employees are not nurses. They are engineers and technicians for semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries in Essex Junction. The privately held, California-based multinational company is Vermont's largest private manufacturer, with 2,300 workers. Its "Fab 9" plant, as the local foundry is called, prints microchips that power consumer and commercial electronics. While COVID-19 has required quick adjustments and brought new uncertainty to an already complex, competitive global marketplace, Fab 9 continues to hum along.

"We've been able to meet our production targets," said Dale Miller, senior location executive and senior director of manufacturing operations.

That's no small feat, given that most of GlobalFoundries' Vermont workforce hasn't even been on-site.

Unlike many other manufacturers, the chipmaker is considered essential during the state of emergency. Its microchips, printed on silicon wafers, are the building blocks of wireless technology and health care equipment such as ultrasound devices. The Vermont fabricator also holds "trusted foundry" status with the U.S. Department of Defense.

Read the Seven Days article.