The US Department of Commerce has established the Microelectronics Early Alert System to address semiconductor supply chain challenges, the department said late Oct. 4. The move was in response to concerns from domestic manufacturers that depend on the critical computer chips, which are largely imported.
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Commerce said it is asking companies and manufacturers to voluntarily share information regarding any shutdowns or disruptions to microelectronics and semiconductor manufacturing facilities and their related supply chains around the world, according to a statement.
"It is crucial to strengthen our supply chains, and to do so we need to hear directly from impacted businesses when they are experiencing a COVID-related semiconductor supply chain disruption," US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement. "We encourage companies anywhere along the semiconductor supply chain to use this tool and request they provide as much detail as possible so we can help minimize disruptions."
The alert system will funnel information to the Supply Chain Disruption Task Force, an interagency entity that will coordinate government resources to help resolve supply chain bottlenecks occurring due to the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.
"The early alert system will generate information the Task Force can consider in proactively minimizing real-time semiconductor supply chain disruptions linked to COVID-related public health developments in key trading partners, while ensuring the protection of business confidential information," Commerce said.
Efforts to initiate the semiconductor alert system stemmed from a Sept. 23 meeting between the Biden administration and semiconductor industry leaders, in which both sides agreed to work together to address supply bottlenecks that have contributed to the chip shortage in the US.
The chip shortage has notably caused the US' largest automakers to flex production and temporarily suspend production at several plants throughout the year as they wait on semiconductor supplies from overseas.