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For close to four decades, one Japanese company has been trusted to move silicon wafers around inside the factories of the world’s biggest chipmakers. Now it’s going back to the drawing board and redesigning its ubiquitous overhead conveyors to handle an "exponential” surge in data usage and global chip demand.

Daifuku Co. has over its 85 years in business gone from ferrying documents between offices and hospital wards to handling the world’s most delicate microelectronics, making the conveyor belts and boxes that zip across the ceilings of modern semiconductor plants. Those containers and rails, which shuttle chips to different parts of the fabrication process at speeds surpassing 5 meters per second, will need to bear 100 kilograms — five times their current load — within years, CEO Hiroshi Geshiro said.

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