TSMC’s attempt to build U.S. fab hindered by cultural issues

The world’s largest independent foundry is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) which is known for building chips for tech companies such as Apple, MediaTek, Nvidia, and more. In an effort to increase the presence of the U.S. in the global chip market, TSMC was enticed into building a $12 billion fab in Arizona that will reportedly produce 5nm chips by 2024.
Construction of the facility began last year, and the EETimes (via Taiwan News) is reporting that the management style favored in Taiwan isn’t meshing well with western sensitivities. An anonymous post written by an employee working at the Arizona site complains about long working hours and the number of meetings that he called “excessive.” In his post, the employee wrote, “These meetings add up to three hours in a day easily. That’s a lot of the workday.”
The gentleman who wrote the post added that he has been working for TSMC over the course of one year and suggests that the company add more people to its workforce so that engineers won’t be forced to work 12-hour shifts or stay on-call over the weekends to handle emergency calls. Considering that assembly lines at the fab will run around the clock when the fab opens, this is an important issue.

The employee warns that TSMC will need to make changes if it hopes to attract workers away from Intel; the U.S.-based chipmaker is also in the process of recruiting workers for its Arizona fab. EETimes spoke with senior Taiwanese engineers who spoke anonymously and said that TSMC has become more demanding over the decades. These engineers also stated that while the work-life balance for employees has improved in Taiwan, it is still not at the level seen in the U.S.

Some of the local workers toiling for TSMC in Arizona will have to learn how the Taiwanese handle certain things. That is because the majority of employees at the facility will be coming from Taiwan. Besides the clash of cultures, the pandemic is also making it hard for TSMC to find the workers it needs to complete production of the factory and turn the key to start production.

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