P350-M testing lab boosts PH global competitiveness

Manila, Philippines -- A national testing laboratory for the semiconductor industry is expected to boost the Philippines' global competitiveness.

Every year, the semiconductor and electronics industry (SEI) has been coughing up from US$10 million to $20 million every year for their products' failure analysis abroad.

Only some 10 percent of the $30-billion earnings of the industry in 2011 went to the Philippines, the rest going abroad.

But now, there is a game-changer in town, the state-of-the-art new Advanced Device and Materials Testing Laboratory (ADMATEL).

A schedule of fees for ADMATEL's 19 types of services showed the amount ranges from a low of P2,000 to a high of P32,000.

The facility was built and equipped with four critical failure analysis equipment at an overall cost of just over P350 million.

As a result, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), headed by Secretary Mario G. Montejo has expressed confidence with its vital role for the SEI.

He said, ''ADMATEL will make the Philippine semiconductor sector more adaptive to global challenges, expanding its value chain from mere assembly to include design and testing components in manufacturing.''

Montejo confidently said, ''this will definitely make the Philippines more competitive among a sea of international players.''

Even President Benigno S. Aquino III, who led ADMATEL's inauguration on May 31 at the DOST compound in Bicutan, Taguig City, expressed the same confidence.

''Without doubt, this facility will pull our semiconductors industry up the value chain, and move them closer to their target of becoming a 50-billion-dollar industry by 2016,'' the President said.

Aquino said that with ADMATEL, the players in the SEI no longer need to send their products abroad for failure analysis.

''They can do it here in their own backyard, with the tests conducted by our very own scientists,'' he said.

At the inauguration on Friday, DOST Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro described ADMATEL as the future of the SEI. ''Welcome to the future,'' he claimed.

He welcomed the guests from the public and private sectors, many of them DOST officials and leaders of the industry, to the event, characterizing it as something of the future.

ADMATEL is housed at one of the buildings of the Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), already rehabilitated to meet stringent requirements.

Its funding came from the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

ADMATEL, a ''class 100k laboratory'' that meets international standards, has four highly specialized equipment acquired at P280 million (ITDI's building renovation putting the entire cost at over P350 million).

They are the Focus Ion Beam-Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscope (FEB-FESEM); Scanning Electronic Miscroscope with Energy Dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX); Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy (TOFSIMS); and Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES).

Such pieces of equipment are available only in countries like the United States, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia.

The DOST head cited the PCIEERD and ITDI for ADMATEL's realization through their ''laser focus.''

Montejo said ADMATEL serves as a ''proof that scientists know how to value resources and that more importantly, proof that scientists know how to make resources work.''

DOST broke the ground for the facility on Sept. 3, 2012, opened it on January 8, 2013, and formally introduced it in an event in Quezon City a month later on Feb. 7.

It was then finally inaugurated an unveiled by the President with Montejo on May 31.

Officials of the Semiconductor Electronics Industry of the Philippines (SEIPI) welcomed ADMATEL's creation, which they hope will help the Philippines have a bigger bite of the world market for semiconductors.

''ADMATEL can make our industry more competitive by upgrading the failure analysis and testing facilities of our local industries, especially for companies who cannot afford to put up their own laboratories,'' SEIPI president Dan Lachica said.

That is also DOST's objective in establishing ADMATEL.