Power fails at Samsung Electronics chip factory

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Power fails at Samsung Electronics chip factory

The Samsung Electronics memory chip plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, experienced a one-minute power failure, and the outage might cause billions of won of damage.

Chip factories run around the clock, and even a short operations halt can require days for recovery as equipment can be damaged and wafers contaminated. Industry sources forecast that the Samsung Electronics plant could be down for two to three days.

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Samsung Electroncs’ chip plant in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

“Several production lines in the factory shut down for one minute around Tuesday 1:30 p.m.,” confirmed a Samsung spokesman on Wednesday. “We’re still in the process of assessing the total damage and expected time of recovery.”

The outage was caused by the failure of an electricity cable in a nearby power substation, which affected the Dongtan area where Samsung’s factory is located.

In 2018, the company experienced a power outage at a chip factory, but on a much larger scale. In March that year, the plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, lost power for 30 minutes. The total damage was worth 50 billion won ($43 million). A failure of Samsung’s own power supply caused the problem during that episode. As Tuesday’s power outage was much shorter, Samsung’s internal estimate is that the losses from the outage are likely to total less than 10 billion won.

Pyeongtaek’s factory is younger and equipped with more state-of-the-art equipment compared to Samsung’s Hwaseong plant.

The power is back on, but the company will have to spend the next few days examining the site, determining which production lines were affected and how many of the wafers were damaged.

“It’s the same with pretty much every chemical procedure - once the power’s cut, it may cause problems in the equipment, so you have to test everything before restarting full operation,” said an industry source.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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