Delivering Greater Customer Value Through Service
Service is a key part of Applied’s strategy to deliver more value to customers. And in today’s highly competitive and fast-changing markets, customers need to accelerate their time-to-market and revenue as quickly as possible and maintain cost-efficient operations. This holds true for customers running the most cutting-edge processes for high-performance devices and for customers who need to increase output to capitalize on the booming Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Customers’ service requirements can vary dramatically. We asked customers what they need from us and what we learned is that providing the right services can help them achieve their objectives faster and better. Based on our continuous learning, we’ve changed some of our practices, realigned resources and, as a result, we are offering new services, technologies and collaborations.
One focus area that benefits the customer is closer and earlier integration of services across Applied’s product groups. As equipment and processes become exponentially more complex, our service teams are more tightly aligned than ever with our product development groups. Service engineers now routinely work with product development and manufacturing teams as new tools are designed, tested and brought to market to ensure a faster, smoother and more cohesive ramp for customers.
A recent case in point is the record ramp of the Applied Centris™ Sym3™ Etch tool. From the outset, service engineers worked alongside the Sym3 etch product design and development teams to create service routines, understand parts, kits and replacement cycles, and become familiar with process operations. We also coordinated installation and startup procedures from facilities requirements to pilot wafer runs. This resulted in faster ramp times, more precise troubleshooting and more efficient parts management for a highly sophisticated new system that had the fastest adoption rate of an etch tool in Applied’s history.
Applied’s epitaxial (epi) tool group is another example where service considerations are integrated into product design and development. We have been able to significantly reduce green-to-green time (i.e. the time needed to take a tool down from a good state, do preventive maintenance and pilot runs, and restore it to production). This is particularly impactful because epi is critical for multiple process steps for all semiconductor devices, making epi tools essential for high fab output.
The increased focus on cross-organizational integration of our service teams within Applied is delivering significant serviceability benefits, increased uptime and more efficient system operations. To learn more about the value our service teams provide, please read my full article published in the Nanochip Fab Solutions Journal.