release time:2022-03-03Author source:SlkorBrowse:564
With a power device market of USD 26 billion, Song Shiqiang talks about the development history of Slkor, the company he founded in a different field
In Yole Développement (Yole)'s latest market analysis on the power module package market, Dr. Ana Villamor, the Principal Analyst of Yole Power Semiconductor Activity Team, stated that the power semiconductor device market would grow from USD 17.5 billion by 2020 to USD 26 billion by 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9%.
MOSFET, IGBT and SiC technologies are the three most important domains in power semiconductor. Automotive, industrial motor drivers and telecommunications will play a key role in driving the segment market of discrete device, which will exceed USD 16 billion by 2026. With the joint efforts of electric vehicles, industrial motors and household appliances, the market of power module will reach nearly USD 10 billion by 2026.
Currently, the new energy market has posed very high requirements for power devices, which is particularly true for high-end devices where large foreign semiconductor manufacturers play a dominant role, such as Infineon, ST, Mitsubishi, ABB, etc. Domestic brands such as China Resources Micro, Basic Semiconductor, Silan, BYD, Slkor could only cater middle and low end markets at present but they are very excellent in the markets such as solar photovoltaics and fast-charging appliances.
ShenZhen SlkorMicro Semicon Co., Ltd. (SlkorMicro) is strategically positioned at the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry market and solar PV market. Song Shiqiang, the founder of Slkor, said “At present, Slkor’s SiC MOS diodes haven’t been substantially applied to NEV market but we are optimistic about the development potential and market imagination of NEVs. The process of SiC power device manufacturing can also be applied in other new products. Slkor requires the translation of related technologies only. SiC MOS diodes boast very great market potential in solar PV, inverter, charging pile, vehicle charger, electric motorcycle and high-power wireless charging. These markets have slightly lower requirements but have larger market potential than NEV market. The 3rd generation of semiconductor GaN similar to SiC also shows excellent performance and great development potential in the RF switch and fast-recharging market.”
The goals of "peak carbon dioxide emissions" and “carbon neutrality” give birth to more requirements for power generation with green energy, green cars, charging piles and energy storage, and boom power device market. "Slkor will grow further along with the development of the NEV market," Mr. Song said.
The Story of the First Batch of Professional Managers in Real Estate Industry, Who “Sold Houses for Entrepreneurship”
As a company specialized in design, production and sales of power components, Slkor mainly produces power devices. When getting prepared for setting up Slkor, Song consulted many materials and data at home and abroad and conducted in-depth research on all major nodes of the semiconductor industry chain as well as the market of power devices and MOS diodes. In his opinion, "China does not have a big gap with other countries in power device product technology. The requirements for equipment of fab plants and sealing and testing plants are also low, so that the lithography machine below 40nm can meet the requirements fully. Furthermore, the domestic market with the capacity of nearly RMB 1trillion also meets my "independent and controllable" requirements of Slkor technology route distribution. Upon comprehensive evaluation, Song started to explore semiconductor power device industry formally “by selling houses”.
Song Shiqiang, one of the first batch of professional managers in China's real estate industry, seized the chance of15-year golden time of China's real estate development. In the information era, Song believes that the basic means of production of informatization and intelligentization must be semiconductor, and the integrated circuit industry will be another point that accumulates wealth after real estate industry.
In 2014, Mr. Song founded Shenzhen Kinghelm Electronics Co., Ltd. which is specialized in the research and manufacturing of “Kinghelm” Beidou GPS antenna connectors. After coming across the R&D team of Yonsei University in Korea, Song said, "they are developing the 3rd generation of semiconductor Sic MOS diodes, which can reach a highest voltage of 1,200V and a highest current of 80A, and the technical indicators are relatively leading in the world. Their products have been measured in BYD NEVs, and their electrical data is second only to CREE in the United States and similar to ROHM in Japan. They hope that I can promote the SiC MOS diodes to new energy vehicles in China market.”
After rounds of discussions between the two parties, Song founded ShenZhen SlkorMicro Semicon Co., Ltd. and registered the trademark "Slkor" to focus on promoting and selling SiC MOS and SiC SBD diodes.
Investment in semiconductor industry is featured by large investment, long cycle and delayed return. Song Shiqiang is also well known for "selling houses for entrepreneurship" in the semiconductor industry.
As recollected by Mr. Song, when Slkor's SiC FET was just launched on the market, there were only eight product models, including four models of SiC MOS diodes and four models of SiC diodes. They were applied in the motor drive core parts of NEVs and high-end solar PV inverter markets. These markets have high technical requirements, small market volumes and very long testing and certification cycles. At that time, Slkor could not perform well, such as its operating team, ecological layout in the semiconductor industry, customer acceptance of the brand “Slkor”, sales team and downstream channel foundation, resulting in a very poor sales revenue in the first few years and slow development speed.
In 2017, Slkor slightly adjusted its product and sales strategy. Through constant adjustment based on market demands and customers’ preference, Slkor's product and its brand positioning were changed and optimized subtly, which helps raise their sales volume.
Into 2021, Slkor's sales volume increased by 40% every quarter, including small batch orders for NEVs, industrial SiC tube MOS diodes and IGBT as well as MOS diodes field effect diodes commonly used in consumer market. Slkor has also speeded up its pace of "domestication" under Song Shiqiang’s guidance, and in particular, its some popular models can replace TI, ON, AOS and TOSHIBA power devices. Slkor has started to receive returns along with the constant increase of business volume. Mr. Song happily told reporters that he had begun to buy back the houses in Shenzhen and Slkor's next goal is to enable all its senior colleagues to buy houses in Shenzhen!
“Slkor will focus on emerging market of power devices and the scene where the giants both at home and abroad haven’t touched yet,” said Song Shiqiang, “Slkor is a new company as well as a new brand and we always endeavor to do what they don't want to do or aren't doing. We will also diversify our products, and focus more attention on new products, such as SCR Hall components, power management IC and so on. All these will be our growth point of performance. The reason why enterprises can continue to expand their scale and realize excellent revenue lies in a very large enough power device market, a rich variety of goods, enough market space and time.”
Slkor’s Technical Layout in the Upcoming 5-10 Years
As analyzed by insiders, China’s power semiconductor industry would usher a golden development period in the upcoming 3-5 years under the effect of such elements as market demand, policy, talent, capital and technology. Power semiconductor is one of the segments with the fastest domestication progress in the foreseeable future, once analyzed from different perspectives such as technical progress difficulty, industrialization layout progress, influence of external factors, etc.
Therefore, to speed up the progress of technology and enlarge production capacity plays a crucial role in safeguarding the development of "domestication". At present, the replacement progress of domestic power devices in middle and low end products is very fast, and these devices will penetrate middle and high-end fields in the future.
Slkor’s R&D team was in South Korea, which consists of a scientist from Yonsei University and some of his students. To facilitate their work better with domestic team, Song invited several senior engineers from some international companies specialized in the same technology. Since 2017, Slkor has finished most of its operations, R&D, production and sales in domestic China.
Under the context of huge investment on semiconductor capital market at present, to deepen technology R & D constantly could consolidate all semiconductor enterprises’ long-term development.
With years of rich experience and efficient supply chain and team, Slkor has produced high, medium and low voltage MOS FET, IGBT for inverter clean energy, SCR, Hall components by taking advantage of the common technology of SiC power devices, in order to enhance its reputation on the market and revenue and penetrate “Slkor” brand into the market.
Technically speaking, there are many strong rivals, including overseas ones, such as INFINEON and ONsemi specialized in power devices, CREE, ROHM and ST focusing on SiC, as well as domestic ones such as Nexperia, NCE Power, Yangjie Semiconductor and Jingdao Microelectronics. Song said, “The semiconductor industry requires patience, thorough top-level design, rigorous market prospect analysis and precise layout of production line. Continuous accumulation and development also matters in the process. The semiconductor development and production in the first few years may contain twists and turns but as soon as the team, brand, product and market start to run normally, the company will get more optimal resources and develop better and better.”
“With a rapid development speed, Slkor has set up its R&D team of power management chips in China, and will receive more and mature IP cores with independent IPRs. We will also have more technical knowledge. For the purpose of long-term sustainable development, Slkor has arranged its technical layout and product development plan for the coming 5-10 years already. The word “silent accumulation” could best describe the characteristic of Slkor, and patience is the premise of our success of undertaking. We need to finish a lot of preparatory work in the early stage to ensure the comprehensive development of Slkor’s products and to enhance the reputation of “Slkor” brand.
What’s the Essence of Huaqiang North’s Long-term Success? Focus on the “Three” Aspects of its Business Model
It was learn that Slkor’s electronic components are sold well in the online shopping mall of electronic components. Its products are also available at many online platforms, including www.szlcsc.com, www.elecfans.com, www.ickey.cn, www.b2b.baidu.com, www.wlxmall.com, www.allchips.com, www.oneyac.com, www.hqew.com, www.ic.net.cn, www.ichunt.com, www.sekorm.com, and www.buyelec.net, etc.
Its hundreds of models of small batch products and new product samples are on hot sales in www.szlcsc.com, www.elecfans.com and www.sekorm.com.
Recently, Slkor set up its image shop in Huaqiang North Commercial Area, which is hailed as "China’s first electronic product block", but its influence has been weakened than previously. Why did Song set up an image shop on Huaqiang North? Song can be said as the witness of the miracle of Huaqiang North. He was assigned to Vanguard Department Store (the current site of Yuanwang Digital City) as an engineer by Vanke, giving him a chance to witness the transformation and development of Huaqiang North from an industrial zone to a commercial zone. Song believes that three factors, including “business circle”, “professional market” and “trading center of electronic components”, are the three essential elements supporting Huaqiang North and also bring Huaqiang North’s everlasting ecology.
According to Song Shiqiang, “business circle” is a concept in 1990s, which refers to a business center covering an area of 3-5 square kilometers within 30 minutes’ drive. Such a circle can meet people’s diversified needs of eating, drinking, playing, entertaining, traveling and shopping with their families. Huaqiang North business circle covers Huangmugang, Great Wall Baihualing, Yannan Road, Huaqiangnan Road, Futiannan Road, Gangxia, Tianmian New Village and other large high-end community natural villages and even some faraway places. Huaqiang North Business Circle was once as famous as Luohu's Dongmen International Trade District, which could bring a vast number of visitors to Huaqiang North on weekends.
Besides Maoye World, Women’s World and other hypermarkets, Huaqiang North also has many other “professional markets”, such as electronic component market as well as electronic and digital 3C market, mobile phone market, security market, electronic gift market, exported apparel market, smart wearing device market and underground fortress electronics (Made in Shenzhen) market, etc., all of which enrich people’s life in Huaqiang North for each whole day.
“Electronic Component Trading Center” is definitely a representative market of Huaqiang North. Huaqiang North electronic market is an extension of the business mode of “stores supported by factors behind them”. A series of trading processes such as information collection, review of information and physical objects, price comparison, sample experience, delivery of money and goods, logistics distribution, etc. can be completed here in Huaqiang North. You can purchase other supporting products and find scarce materials in a “one-stop” way, such as imported leftover electronic components from Chaoshan, small connector switches from Cixi, Zhejiang, connectors from Wenzhou, Beidou antenna connectors from Kinghelm, stock materials from large European and American OEM companies, etc.
As believed by Song Shiqiang and other senior researchers of Huaqiang North, Huaqiang North's vitality is also related to its role as an efficient market, where most real demand and supply could be best matched, the conversion rate is high and the fluctuation of supply and demand is most closely related to price. Therefore, speculators in Huaqiang North can earn profits the first. Huaqiang North is also the very site where new products are released and publicized. For instance, in the previous several years when new smart phones and smart wearable products were launched one after another, the bosses of Huaqiang North could get the latest products soon after the launch of new products of Apple, Huawei, Samsung and Xiaomi. The popular online products such as fidget spinner, twister and selfie stick were all first created in Huaqiang North!
Mr. Song stressed, “Huaqiang North has many other functions. For example, it is a site where many brands gather and different rivals compete, an effective market formed spontaneously, and an exhibition center. The siphonage effect of Huaqiang North can absorb and accommodate more and better merchants, and cultivate brands and values and serve more non-local customers better. That is actually where Huaqiang North’s value lies. With the development of the times, Huaqiang North's functions however are weakened, but it still has certain influence and vitality in a certain period of time. Therefore, I set up the first image shop of Slkor here in Huaqiangbei Road. That is the theoretical basis.”
“The definition given by Slkor for Huaqiang North is that Slkor image shop seems like the relationship between automobile factory and 4S store. Its functions mainly include: First, bring customers the most intuitive effect and publicize "Slkor" brand; second, sell Slkor’s products; third, store spot goods in counters and warehouses in Huaqiang North, so as to serve Huaqiang North’s customers more quickly and conveniently; fourth, grasp the latest news in Huaqiang North, so that Slkor could better cater the market, and provides supports for scientific decision-making of new product R&D and production management.”
Three Problems: Capital, Staff and Time
Slkor’s fast development speed and constant progress in recent years entail constant investment. An excellent semiconductor enterprise must lay emphasis on its supply chain, technical reserve, R & D of new products, team building, ecology construction, brand publicity, etc. all the time and make investment in succession.
Song also pointed out, “There were also some problems that bother us in the development process all the time. First, I, as Slkor’s helmsman, need more time. Second, we need more talents. Third, we need more capital, because semiconductor investment requires huge investment! But I believe all these problems can be solved gradually.”
“Slkor has started making profits slightly but if we don’t expand production until earning money, everything will be too late. Semiconductor industry is an industry that needs a lot of assets and investment, and its profit return cycle is very long. A few years ago, Kinghelm’s Beidou and Slkor’s semiconductor were so popular that many investors decided to make an investment. However, we didn’t connect the small circulation at that time so we refused many investments for the fear of causing loss to these investors and just accepted a small amount of investment from a capital tycoon in Tsinghua University. I think we need to know what to accept and what to quit. Our company is developed from an IP design company, which belongs to asset-light model, but the development of the company still needs a large amount of investment capital and working capital. Competition in the semiconductor industry is fierce now so we have also started with our financing plan in hope to receive capitals from investors and realize better development. Slkor should design and sell products well, improve itself and sell its shares, which is our development plan for the next few years!
We always endeavor to realize our goal of "becoming the leader of domestic power devices" Mr. Song firmly said at the end of the interview!
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