Sia: Semiconductor test equipment industry outlook uncertain

GEORGE TOWN: The outlook for the semiconductor test equipment industry for the second half of 2019 is plagued with uncertainties, stemming from the ongoing US-China trade war.

MMS Ventures Bhd managing director T.K. Sia (pic) said many smart devices, automotive companies and semiconductor companies have slowed down their purchase of test equipment as a result of the trade war.

Sia was speaking to reporters after the company’s AGM.

He said the company has secured orders for 35 test equipment with a market value of RM35mil for the smart device and automotive industries, which did not differ from the figures achieved for the first half of 2018.“The ongoing tension between the United Stataes and China has caused many players in the automotive industry to delay buying test equipment.

“For 2019, we expect either a flat year, or a year with slight growth. We also don’t have any visibility for 2020,” Sia said.

According to an International Data Corp report, the smartphone shipment for the first quarter of 2019 fell 6.6% year-on-year (y-o-y) after a 4.9% y-o-y decline in the fourth quarter.“Currently, the smartphone industry aims to drive sales by selling foldable products that can be transformed into a tablet.

“Personally, I don’t think the foldable feature would be enough to drive sales, as most people, due to the economic uncertainties, would prefer to hold on to their old phones as long as they are in good condition.

“The foldable phones are too pricey,” Sia pointed out.

Moving forward, MMS has secured new projects to develop new sorting equipment to arrange smartphone sensors into different categories.

“The machine is sold for between RM150,000 and RM200,000.

“We are also developing a new three-dimensional inspection machine for the automotive industry.

“We can see the contribution from these new products in 2020,” Sia added.

According to Sia, MMS is also looking at developing automated equipment and robotic systems for smart manufacturing factories that would require fewer workers.

“We see many opportunities in these areas, where we can provide them with automation solutions in many of the operational processes,” he added.

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