GEORGE TOWN: US chipmaker GlobalFoundries has opened a US$1 million (RM4.7 million) factory control tower facility in Penang, which is touted to be the world’s first.
The 16,000 sq ft “remote control tower” facility enables the group to manage five of its worldwide factories remotely from an office space in Bayan Baru, and will be run by some 300 technicians and engineers.
GlobalFoundries chief manufacturing officer Ang Kay Chai said the group would also commit a further US$6 million (RM28 million) to US$7 million (RM33 million) in the next five years in training and future expansion.
He said the remote control concept was conceptualised at the height of the pandemic when engineers were able to control their factories remotely by using their tablet computers.
“Penang is a vibrant location at the forefront of semiconductor manufacturing innovation, and we would like to capture the large base of highly skilled talent here,” he told reporters.
Chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said GlobalFoundries’s move to set up the facility in Penang would further strengthen its role in the chip industry, which is poised to hit US$1 trillion (RM4.7 trillion) by 2030.
He said despite short-term market supply disruptions and softening of the consumer market, Penang still managed to contribute 55% to 60% of Malaysia’s electrical and electronics (E&E) exports last year.
The state recorded an all-time high of RM463 billion in total exports in 2022.
Meanwhile, InvestPenang CEO Loo Lee Lian said having the world’s first remote control facility in Penang would encourage more semiconductor players to set up their operations in the state.
She said GlobalFoundries’s entry would help realise the national target of achieving 15% market share in the semiconductor and electronics industry by 2030, up from the present 13%.
GlobalFoundries has manufacturing fabrication plants located in Malta, New York, Vermont and Germany. It recently opened a US$4 billion (RM19 billion) manufacturing plant in Singapore.