The successful manufacturing of image sensors has enabled ON Semiconductor to expand its workforce at its Rochester facility.
Herb Erhardt, the Vice President and General Manager of the Industrial Solutions Division, Image Sensor Group for ON Semiconductor in Rochester, discussed what’s fueling the company’s local growth and its economic impact Wednesday during our Greater Rochester Enterprise Why ROC conversation during News 8 at Sunrise.
“We manufacture image sensors, which are the imaging analogue, if you will, of computer chips,” said Erhardt. “They’re the element that’s behind the lens in things you’re familiar with, like digital still photo cameras or your cell phone camera. We here in Rochester focus on the industrial aspect of it. There are a lot of cameras that may be in automated assembly lines, and we build the sensor that go into those cameras. We also do quite a bit of work in the areas of medical, space or the military as well. A lot of the satellite footage you may have seen over the years, from 9/11 or the recent fires, could be from a sensor that we manufactured here.”
The demand for these industrial image sensors is having an impact on the local economy. “We’re hiring about 34 or 35 people, and that might actually grow little bit,” Erhardt said. “More importantly, it means that we’re saving for the rest of the organization here. We’re keeping the organization here, which is about another 187 people or so. All tolled, it’s over two hundred jobs that are staying in this area. In today’s economy where you have a lot of high-tech jobs and engineering jobs moving over seas, it’s good to actually see something coming back here.”
Erhardt said ON Semiconductor uses about $5 million in energy at its Lake Avenue facility in Rochester each year. “Again, that supports the local economy. The salaries of the facility are well over $10 million. We’ve got medical benefits – dental/optical – so you begin to see a multiplying effect of a lot of money being put into the community by having that facility here.”
Rochester has been a natural fit for ON Semiconductor to grow its business. “The facility has been around for a number of years,” noted Erhardt. “It’s very expensive to duplicate a facility like that. The engineering team that’s there is very well-seasoned. There’s a lot of experience there. Again, picking that up and starting somewhere else would be very, very expensive. It’s hard to do. From a historical point of view, this facility was part of Kodak for a number of years. It helped Kodak get into the digital camera business. It was eventually sold off to Platinum in 2011, and then picked up by On Semiconductor by 2014. We’ve been there about three and half years. We’ve got a stabilizing presence there. Again, it’s good to build on the foundation that’s been here.”
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