Have you ever seen those large, round, glass jars filled with marbles (or candies, or Matchbox cars, etc.) where you had to guess how many objects were in the jar - the answer being some incredibly huge number? (And did you ever win the prize?)
Along that same line of thought, I was wondering this week if it were possible to count up the vast number of semiconductors on the property of the average mill (I really do think of this stuff) - not including the semiconductors in every mobile phone that the employees carry.
Semiconductors of different types are absolutely everywhere that power is, and without them, we'd have no computers, internet, smart systems, mobile phones, flat screens or TVs. And as of late, semiconductors have caused bottlenecks and higher costs.
And it's this very issue of semiconductors that spurred on a very recent agreement between India and the EU (which didn't hit mainstream news) but that has impressive potential for greatly improving supply chain issues and lowering costs.
The agreement took place November 25th, 2023 between India and the EU to foster an exchange of talent, workforce development, and to facilitate collaboration, ensuring a "level playing field in the sector". India and the EU are expected to share experiences, best practices and information on semiconductors, collaborate in research, development and innovation among their respective universities, research organizations and businesses, as stated from the EU (1).
Then once this gets going in early 2024, all this information will be shared with the US, thus providing a more open market and consequently less dependence on China. (No good having most or all the eggs in one basket.)
Now, it all sounds well and good, but is this really going to happen? Only time will tell, however, there's one more reason why the price and therefore the supply of semiconductors can lower and be manufactured easier in the future: MIT has found a way to manufacture semiconductors using drinking water versus highly purified water, which is significantly more expensive (2).
Fewer bottlenecks = fewer supply chain issues = lower costs.
Everybody likes that math.
It'll be interesting to see what solutions 2024 brings. Hopefully an improved supply chain and cheaper semiconductors are in the future for next year. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Have a happy and safe holiday season.