AT&S is a global leader in the field of interconnect technologies, specialising in IC substrates for Consumer Devices, Automotive, Aerospace, Industrial and Medical Applications. Headquartered in Austria, with manufacturing facilities located in India, China, and Korea, as well as a robust global sales presence, AT&S is poised to make a significant impact on the microelectronics industry. The company’s newest state-of-the-art production facility in Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Malaysia, is set to produce high-end IC substrates for cutting-edge technology sectors such as high-performance computing, AI, edge computing, IoT, servers, cloud computing, networking, and 5G Base Stations. AT&S boasts a dedicated workforce of approximately 14,000 employees.
AT&S’s high-end printed circuit boards and IC substrates are used worldwide by prominent brands, serving applications ranging from the smallest electronic devices to satellites and avionics.
Each AT&S plant specialises in a distinct technology portfolio. While the Austrian plants primarily cater to the European market, they are rapidly expanding their presence in the American market. European operations prioritise short lead times, special applications, and close customer proximity. Overall, the plants in Austria, India, and Korea focus on small and medium-sized series production for the industrial, automotive, and medical sectors. The worldwide presence of their plants, each offering a diverse range of products and technologies, underscores its success in this fast-paced industry.
At its headquarters in Leoben Hinterberg, Austria, AT&S is establishing a groundbreaking competence center for interconnection technology and substrates designed for high-performance microprocessors. This unique project, along with the new Kulim plant in Malaysia and the existing substrate production facility in Chongqing, China, forms AT&S’s “Substrate Triangle,” promising further achievements.
AT&S’s manufacturing facility in Malaysia represents an impressive investment of RM8.5 billion (€1.7 billion) in Kulim Hi-Tech Park, Kedah. It stands as one of the most significant Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Malaysia for 2021 and the largest in AT&S’s history for a single plant. Once completed, featuring two key production plants, it will generate 6,000 high-skilled job opportunities for local and neighbouring communities. AT&S Malaysia is poised to transform Kulim into a hotspot for an entirely new, pioneering technology segment.
Recent milestones at the AT&S Kulim Site include the roof closing of the first production plant and the installation of the first set of tools. The next milestones, including completing the first production plant, installing and qualifying the tools, and product qualification, are targeted for early 2024. The ramp-up for serial production is expected to begin by the end of 2024, with the second production plant projected to obtain its Certificate of Completion and Compliance around the same time. Operational timings will be determined based on global market dynamics.
To offer a sense of scale, the two production plants will utilise 160,000 cubic metre of concrete and 24,000 tonnes of steel, which is approximately 2.5 times the amount of steel used to construct the Eiffel Tower.
AT&S’s decision to establish its first-ever Southeast Asia venture in Malaysia was influenced by several key factors. Malaysia’s Penang and Kedah regions have a mature electrical and electronics (E&E) industry with decades of semiconductor expertise. Moreover, Malaysia’s status as a vital hub for the chip supply chain, coupled with proximity to its major customers, made it an attractive choice for operations in Kulim Hi-Tech Park. The emphasis on providing a skilled workforce for the E&E industry in Malaysia, which employs over 575,000 individuals, further supported this decision.
Other factors favouring AT&S’s greenfield project in Malaysia include well-developed logistics infrastructure, convenient access to an airport, an efficient road network, and stable power and water supplies. Kulim Hi-Tech Park itself is a thriving industrial hub, hosting more than 40 industrial tenants across various sectors. Malaysia also boasts a supportive ecosystem, with educational institutions capable of producing the required talent.
Malaysia has established itself as a mature, major player in the rapidly expanding E&E market. In 2022, the E&E industry contributed 7% to Malaysia’s national GDP1, and the semiconductor industry celebrated its 50th anniversary in the same year. With decades of experience and the previously mentioned advantages, Malaysia offers strong support systems and industry associations to nurture the growth of this dynamic sector. Also, the country offers a robust network of local suppliers willing to upskill and adopt new technologies, making it an attractive destination for investors.
1MSIA 2022 E&E Survey – 21 February 2023