Do­mes­tic chips to power world’s in­fra projects

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONG­NAN and LIU WEIFENG in Zhuzhou, Hu­nan

CRRC Zhuzhou Elec­tric Lo­co­mo­tive Co Ltd, China’s big­gest man­u­fac­turer of elec­tric lo­co­mo­tives by mar­ket share, will in­vest 100 mil­lion yuan ($14.45 mil­lion) to build six production lines in Zhuzhou, Hu­nan province, to man­u­fac­ture high-end rail tran­sit parts by 2020, said its top executive.

In­su­lated-gate bipo­lar tran­sis­tor or I GB T semi­con­duc­tors will be their key prod­uct. The idea is to pro­mote global sales from a long-term per­spec­tive.

IGBT semi­con­duc­tors find ap­pli­ca­tions in a num­ber of ar­eas: bul­let trains, smart grids, elec­tric ve­hi­cles, new en­ergy prod­ucts, ae­ro­craft and avi­a­tion.

For long, China’s rail­way ve­hi­cle man­u­fac­tur­ers have been buy­ing IGBT semi­con­duc­tors from global sup­pli­ers based in Ger­many, the United King­dom and Ja­pan. At the same time, they have been keen to de­velop in-house com­pe­tence in the de­sign and man­u­fac­ture of IGBT semi­con­duc­tors.

CRRC Zhuzhou, a sub­sidiary of China Rail­way Rolling Stock Corp Ltd, the coun­try’s rail­way ve­hi­cle and equip­ment ex­porter, ac­quired Bri­tish semi­con­duc­tor maker Dynex in 2008 to gain ac­cess to its tech­nolo­gies and R&D ca­pa­bil­ity in IGBT prod­ucts.

Zhou Qinghe, chair­man of CRRC Zhuzhou, said as many emerg­ing coun­tries have just be­gun to build new rail­way lines, power and air trans­porta­tion fa­cil­i­ties, they are keen to ac­quire such prod­ucts from China, to help them im­prove their man­u­fac­tur­ing abil­ity, rail­way operations and main­tenance, and other ser­vices.

“While our China man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity will fo­cus on lower-volt­age IGBT semi­con­duc­tors, which would de­rive more ben­e­fit from large-vol­ume man­u­fac­tur­ing and economies of scale, our man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity in the UK owned by Dynex will have more fo­cus on high-volt­age IGBT,” said Zhou. “It has a smaller mar­ket de­mand so less need for mass vol­ume man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

The com­pany’s new production line in Zhuzhou pro­duces IGBT prod­ucts.

It was built as per Ger­many’s ‘In­dus­try 4.0’, a con­cept that pro­motes dig­i­tal­iza­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing.

CRRC Zhuzhou In­sti­tute Co Ltd, a sub­sidiary of CRRC Zhuzhou, built a production line to make eight-inch chips in Zhuzhou in 2014. The unit has reached an­nual out­put of 120,000 chips and 1 mil­lion IGBT mod­ules in 2015.

Ear­lier this month, CRRC Zhuzhou ex­ported eight-inch IGBT chips to In­dia where they were used to up­grade trans­form­ers of 100 elec­tric lo­co­mo­tives, mak­ing them en­ergy-ef­fi­cient. The same chips are also used in the 7,200-kilo­watt elec­tric lo­co­mo­tives that power China’s high-speed trains.

Zhuzhou CSR Times Elec­tric, an­other CRRC Zhuzhou sub­sidiary, set up an R&D team for driv­e­train sub-as­sem­blies of elec­tric ve­hi­cles in 2015. It is based in Dynex’s development cen­ter in the UK.

The team will re­search ap­pli­ca­tions of IGBT driv­e­trains to dis­cover how they can be ap­plied in elec­tric cars. It hopes to de­velop a vi­able sub­sys­tem tech­nol­ogy for sale to elec­tric car man­u­fac­tur­ers.

“From a long-term per­spec­tive, many de­vel­op­ing economies will count on in­fra­struc­ture projects and en­hanced re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, es­pe­cially in rail trans­porta­tion and power fa­cil­ity development. So, their de­mand for IGBT tech­nolo­gies will re­main at­trac­tive,” said Zhao Jian, a pro­fes­sor of rail trans­porta­tion at Bei­jing Jiao­tong Uni­ver­sity.

LIU WEIFENG / CHINA DAILY

A worker op­er­ates a ma­chine that makes key parts of high-speed trains at Zhuzhou Elec­tric Lo­co­mo­tive Co.

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