As the end of the week came for SEMICON West and InterSolar North America 2009, there are probably many issues, news, standards, products, and more to discuss and debate. There were announcements of new products, introductions of new companies, grumblings from exhibitors and attendees, praises, good days, and bad days. Every circumstance is different and not everyone had a great or bad show this week, but we can say this; the global economy has hit this industry very hard.
From what was a very small show last year and being only part of the West hall at Moscone, InterSolar was the talk of the town. Now 3 levels, a career fair/expo area, classes, presentations, many new products, and a buzz that is sure to roll into PVSEC coming up on September in Hamburg, this show is going to grow yet again in the next 12 months. It was very interesting to see a handful of companies that once were exhibitors on the SEMICON side of the show and now were in the Solar side. Most of these companies decided to pull out of the SEMICON side completely and just participate in InterSolar; which was a shocker at first. But, if you stood back and looked at the situtations, it might have been the smartest moves they made. The SEMICON side is not dying, but it sure is slowing down and if you have technologies or applications that can be utilized in the solar market, why not focus on it? The change of marketing and sales stategy for some such as Obducat, Fraunhofer, MRL Industries, Hitachi, and of course Applied Materials is a great move. Of course, Applied is trying to lead the way and it seems some are following. One main thing about this industry is that it is still in it’s infancy stages. There is a lot of standardization, analyzing, and ramp up needed in this sector, but that seems like it will take a few years to get there. In speaking with someone from Intertek, they brought up a good point. It is unknown and testing is not documented; let’s go and figure out a way then.
On the SEMICON side, it seems that moral is low. There are some out there who are optimistic and keeping their chins up, but the common theme amongsts many is being in survival mode. If you look at some of the larger companies, more established, leaders in their sector; they have doubts of how the industry is going to be for the rest of the year. I read an analyst report that stated the upturn is going to happen in 2010; I think I read that same report two years ago but with just the dates changed. No one really knows right now when the semiconductor market is going to swing back up, but it is for sure never going to get back to where it was. This is an industry that has changed from once the strong and mighty to the limping and surviving. Maybe we can say the industry is in a tough place right now but will bounce back eventually; it will never go away either. In the next 12 months, it’s going to be interesting to see who is going to be around or absorbed. Time will tell.
As a final note of the show logistics, size, and changes, let’s look at some comparisions from this year and last. Friday is the first full day of move out and this year, all empty crates were back to exhibitors by the morning. No empties were being brought in that morning and most booths were torn down by end of day. Last year, some booths did not even come down until Sunday. I spoke with a shipping company who finished loading all their freight off the show floor in West hall by 8pm Friday night. Saturday, there was very little freight left on the show floors. In fact, it was mostly Freeman decorating freight. As previous years have shown, freight is still on the floor on Sunday and awaiting pickup. This was a show that once took 3.5 days to move out and now can move out in 2 days. Downsized, you bet. Perhaps the drayage contractor is working faster with the Local 510, maybe it is just less freight, maybe this is how it will be next year.
As SEMICON Taiwan comes up, one must wonder about the future of the global shows on this circuit and what is in store. Another SEMICON is now concluded.