Not long ago, Whitewater’s Community Development Authority discussed – laughably – that Foxconn’s screen production would offer a supply-chain opportunity for Whitewater. As it turns out, beyond all the other problems of Foxconn, the site probably cannot – literally – even support the production of high-quality glass components.
Bruce Murphy at Urban Milwaukee explains:
Except that these contractors aren’t building a plant, but are working on utilities, roadways and drainage systems — which could be built for any kind of plant.
Except that it won’t be till May that the company even releases the initial bid packages for the construction of the Gen6 fabrication facility, it says, and with no date specified for when these bids will be awarded.
Except that the when the LCD plant is built, according to Adam Jelen, senior vice president with Gilbane Building Co., Foxconn’s construction manager, it will be built on the many acres of flat, compressed gravel at the Mt. Pleasant site, as he told the media. And you can’t build an LCD plant on such a base, as Willy Shih, Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School and an expert on the LCD industry, tells Urban Milwaukee.
“A compressed gravel foundation might be fine for a normal industrial building, but it’s probably not an LCD Fab, which has to have a massive steel infrastructure to support a vibration-free environment for equipment that has to do ultra-precision (manufacturing),” Shih says.
That steel support substructure is no small undertaking and could be two floors deep — just one part of what makes these LCD plants so massively expensive.
Via More Doubts About Foxconn Project @ Urban Milwaukee. See also Foxconn: Evidence of Bad Policy Judgment @ FREE WHITEWATER.
Note: For a different assessment from Shih’s on the conditions of the Foxconn site for LCD production, see Joe’s observation in the comments section for this post.
Previously: 10 Key Articles About Foxconn, Foxconn as Alchemy: Magic Multipliers, Foxconn Destroys Single-Family Homes, Foxconn Devours Tens of Millions from State’s Road Repair Budget, The Man Behind the Foxconn Project, A Sham News Story on Foxconn, Another Pig at the Trough, Even Foxconn’s Projections Show a Vulnerable (Replaceable) Workforce, Foxconn in Wisconsin: Not So High Tech After All, Foxconn’s Ambition is Automation, While Appeasing the Politically Ambitious, Foxconn’s Shabby Workplace Conditions, Foxconn’s Bait & Switch, Foxconn’s (Overwhelmingly) Low-Paying Jobs, The Next Guest Speaker, Trump, Ryan, and Walker Want to Seize Wisconsin Homes to Build Foxconn Plant, Foxconn Deal Melts Away, “Later This Year,” Foxconn’s Secret Deal with UW-Madison, Foxconn’s Predatory Reliance on Eminent Domain, Foxconn: Failure & Fraud, Foxconn Roundup: Desperately Ill Edition, Foxconn Roundup: Indiana Layoffs & Automation Everywhere, Foxconn Roundup: Outside Work and Local Land, Foxconn Couldn’t Even Meet Its Low First-Year Goal, Foxconn Talks of Folding Wisconsin Manufacturing Plans, WISGOP Assembly Speaker Vos Hopes You’re Stupid, Lost Homes and Land, All Over a Foxconn Fantasy, Laughable Spin as Industrial Policy, Foxconn: The ‘State Visit Project,’ ‘Inside Wisconsin’s Disastrous $4.5 Billion Deal With Foxconn,’ Foxconn: When the Going Gets Tough…, The Amazon-New York Deal, Like the Foxconn Deal, Was Bad Policy, Foxconn Roundup, Foxconn: The Roads to Nowhere, Foxconn: Evidence of Bad Policy Judgment, and Foxconn: Behind Those Headlines.
I’m not so sure that this is all that nefarious. The lithography involved in making TFT displays is pretty rude, compared to microprocessors. The lines are wide and the stack-up tolerances are not all that terrible. If TFTs required state-of-the-art 10nM processes, vibration would be a very big deal, but they don’t. Even though the process makes transistors that are not visible to us on our TV screens, they are really not all that small, in semiconductor process terms.
Standard building construction techniques, such as driving some piles and isolating the pad the delicate equipment sits on from the rest of the building, works pretty well. Certainly good enuf for a LCD plant.
Your assessment is much appreciated. How you and Shih would think about production conditions (and whether Shih’s too pessimistic about the production possibilities) is a technical question that neither Bruce Murphy nor I could – and have not – tried to assess independently.
Murphy’s non-technical implication about slow steps (that seem to be geared toward whether Trump is re-elected) may mean that no one will, in any event, see a large-scale effort before 11.2020.
The industrial aspects of this – of science and technology applied to a manufacturing plant – are ones that can, objectively, be determined. That’s a good thing, but it carries with it a necessary condition: someone of the understanding that you and others similarly knowledgeable possess. To believe otherwise would be to reject reason for the sake of rhetoric.
I’m glad that you weighed in here, very much so, and I will add a notation to the post with mention of your assessment.