Like the global The shortage of chips extends into the two years, manufacturers are doing some unusual tricks to keep production lines moving. Car manufacturers are using semiconductors extracted from washing machines, rewriting the code to use less silicon and even shipping their products without chips while promising to add them later. With the shortage of semiconductors now a new normal, everyone is forced to adapt.
“There is despair in the market,” says Bill Wiseman, a senior partner at McKinsey Consulting. “If you’re building a $ 350,000 mass spectrometer and you can’t send it because you don’t have a 50-cent chip, you’re willing to pay anything.”
McKinsey has taken advantage of the sense of urgency by creating a team dedicated to obtaining chips for the companies he consults. Wiseman says the team will look beyond the usual supply chains and has found much-needed chips in countries such as Morocco, the Netherlands and Japan. They have also been able to identify tokens that may be slightly different from those originally requested. Manufacturers and brokers, of course, can charge a premium, and companies have no choice but to pay. “The chips are really out there,” Wiseman says. “It’s just a matter of finding them and getting them.”
In some cases, this means taking desperate steps. Last month, Peter Wennink, CEO of the Dutch company ASML, which manufactures the complex machines needed to coin cutting-edge computer chips, revealed another mind-boggling example. Wennink says a large industrial conglomerate had resorted to buying washing machines just to remove the chips inside for its products.
Chip shortages were caused by a number of factors, including the rush to buy the electronics needed to work from home during the pandemic, the buildup of chips caused by US-China trade tensions, and the disruption. of component flow through a complex semiconductor supply chain. distributed worldwide.
The crisis has highlighted how crucial semiconductors are to the economy and has shown how fragile many supply chains are. Industries that have been hit hard include consumer electronics, LED and other lighting, energy and automotive. At the start of the pandemic, carmakers halted production and canceled chip orders, before being blinded by rising demand. After falling at the end of the queue for chip orders, car companies have been struggling to catch up ever since.
Automakers have opted to eliminate vehicle functions instead of shutting down production lines. Last September, Cadillac said it would eliminate the hands-free driving feature of some vehicles. In November, Tesla began selling cars without USB ports. And this May, Ford said it would ship some chipless models for non-critical functions such as heating controls and that dealers would add them at a later date.
Mike Juran, CEO of Altia, a company that makes software for creating interfaces for cars and appliances, says many companies are rewriting their code to work with different chips or for a single chip to duplicate work. In some cases, Juran says, companies are using chips that are up to 10 years old. “They’re exchanging tokens with what’s available,” he says. “We get them to go back to old chips that were, like, sitting in the warehouses, which weren’t avant-garde, but we can have the same GUI.”