Carten Controls: Valves and flow solutions with a Japanese connection

As a member of the Fujikin Group, Carten Controls designs, manufactures and supplies high-performance valves and flow solutions for ultra-high-purity systems.

Carten works in industries where cleanliness, containment and safe delivery are critical for process efficiency, performance and reliability.

Declan Irish, managing director of Carten spoke with Bridges on the company’s recent successes, synergies with the Fujikin group and the Ireland-Japan partnership.

Bridges: As the world gets back on its feet after the pandemic, bring us up to date on Carten Controls’ business in 2022.

Irish: We manufacture and export critical equipment for the semiconductor and bioprocessing industries and equipment used directly for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing. Carten was classified as an essential business during the pandemic; allowing us to maintain operations.

This required significant planning and implementation to maintain productivity and provide safe working conditions for employees and thankfully we succeeded on both counts.

We are seeing global trends now, some of which derive from the pandemic, that have created huge demand in our main industries which also creating new challenges.

Semiconductor grade materials are at a premium today and our main challenge has been to ramp-up our manufacturing capabilities to satisfy global demand. We have been successful this year and will increase our shipments by approximately sixty percent by the end of 2022 and future growth looks strong.

What industries do you serve and what opportunities do you see for further growth?

Carten manufactures ultra-high purity and high-performance equipment for the semiconductor and bioprocessing markets. Our equipment controls the flow of gases and liquids that supply fluid directly to microchip fabrication wafers during semiconductor manufacturing (wetted surface area). We also provide equipment used for the drugs injected into the human body in bioprocessing manufacturing (product contact surface area).

Carten’s core semiconductor business pertains to controlling the distribution of ultra-high purity bulk (UHP) gases. From cryogenically-frozen liquid stored onsite at semiconductor wafer fabrication (FAB) sites to vaporized UHP gases distributed throughout the FAB supplied to semiconductor equipment tools.

Carten has developed ‘off-site manufacturing’ capabilities at our Waterford, Ireland facilities which allow many critical processes to be manufactured off-site such as flow-control systems which are traditionally manufactured during semiconductor facility builds.

Combined with Carten’s high-capacity valves, also manufactured at Waterford, we provide greater ultra-pure gas flow to the larger microchip production and fabrication facilities. This distinguishes us from our competitors.

Performing key assembly and fusion processes at Carten reduces qualification and validation times. Traditionally performed on site at microchip facilities during construction we are able to deliver results in a fraction of the time.

Combined with Carten’s high-capacity valves, also manufactured at Waterford, we provide greater ultra-pure gas flow to the larger microchip production and fabrication facilities. This distinguishes us from our competitors.

Declan Irish, Managing Director of Carten

Carten has implemented the same model in the bioprocessing industry, particularly in the area of single-use technologies (SUT).

It is possible to use our patented valve series to fabricate automated systems for point-to-point fluid transfer between culturing, filtration and purification applications.

As SUT applications allow the construction of sustainable facilities with hugely reduced requirements for steam generation and cleaning chemicals, Carten contributes to ensuring drug manufacturing can eliminate the risk of batch-to-batch contamination.

With the Fujikin Group acquiring Carten Controls in 1991, what strengths does the company have today?

Headquartered in Osaka, Japan, the Fujikin Group is one of the leading flow control system manufacturers in the world. The group goes beyond the manufacturing of basic valves and can deliver complex components which, for example, control ultra-high purity gases with specialized components through the measurement of the mass of individual gases.

Cutting-edge industries such as hydrogen fuel-cell technologies, nano-picotechnology and medical devices using ionizing and non-ionizing radiation drive the Fujikin Group’s vision to be an industry leader.

Carten and Fujikin have realized successful synergies. In semiconductors the Fujikin Group specializes in the manufacturing of components and systems installed in fabrication equipment ‘tools’. These are installed directly in high-grade cleanrooms at microchip fabrication facilities – much closer to the wafer than core Carten products.

This has allowed us to combine product offerings across international markets and add value by licensing Fujikin technologies.

In bioprocessing, Carten has taken a lead in SUT with the Fujikin Group providing sales and global distribution support.

How would you describe the current relationship between Japan and Ireland and what are your personal thoughts on Japan having spent time there?

From an Irish perspective, I have always found the culture of Japan to be a rewarding experience. There are extreme differences in terms of our country’s locations. Yet while Ireland is an island to the extreme west of Europe and the Japanese islands are located on the extreme east of Asia, our cultures are close in terms of our dedication to achievement, positive outlook and sense of humour.

In terms of business development the Japanese culture is quite open and the development of subsidiaries is a key priority. Training, technology and general business development is fully supported.

As for Japan itself, the country never ceases to amaze me. From the metropolis of Tokyo, the unique character of Osaka, the ‘bullet train’ journey between both cities, the alternative treasures found at places such as Nara, Japan remains a unique experience.

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