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New Preventative Maintenance Service Option

John DeWitt

Preventive maintenance (PM) can maximize tool availability and minimize the risk of sudden increases in operating costs—provided it is timely and effective. Data from Applied Materials Managed Service Agreements shows that tools which receive appropriate PM according to Applied’s guidelines demonstrate an average improvement in scheduled uptime in the range of 3–5% over those which do not.

Customers covered by Applied’s Managed- or Performance Service Agreements already receive PM services as an integral part of their support programs. In addition, for those who are covered only by Applied’s new product warranty or Standard Service Agreement, there is now an option for routine preventive services as well.

New Applied PM Services offer customers the expertise, convenience, efficiency and affordability they need to keep their Applied Materials equipment operating at peak performance. For warranty customers, PM is an important way to rapidly achieve predictable, repeatable levels of performance at the best cost. Standard Service customers benefit as well from regular, state-of the-art PM services that use the latest tools, techniques and service routines.

Applied PM Services are delivered at scheduled intervals by specially trained Applied Materials TechForce personnel—certified service technicians, who perform PM tasks on process chambers, wafer-handling systems and the factory interfaces. They ensure that everything needed for specialized PM tasks, including parts kits, high-quality consumables and specific process kits, is on hand for the scheduled PM service. Included in the product offering are the additional process kits required during the chamber clean. These support the rapid return to production made possible by swapping cleaned and refurbished parts for used ones. Under a PM Services contract the process kits are inspected, cleaned and refurbished to like-new condition, or parts are replaced as needed as part of the program.

Applied works with customers to develop a rolling schedule for PM service that conforms to the customer’s unique operating practices and production needs. The delivery of PM services is flexible enough to provide for PM to be performed within eight hours of a customer’s request to address an unplanned event.

With Applied PM Services, customers benefit whether they are running advanced processes on state-of-the-art tools that require knowledge of new cleaning methods, or doing older processes in greenfield fabs, even in geographic areas where the technical support infrastructure may be limited.

Applied PM Services offer First Time Right performance: Applied’s assurance of consistently high-quality service. The goal is to minimize scheduled downtime through repeatable task performance. This means that if the initial chamber requalifiication process is unsuccessful and attributable to an improperly performed PM, Applied will support the subsequent efforts to successfully recover and return the chamber to production status. Applied offers this service at a cost savings over standard transactional services that include parts procurement, cleaning, and materials management tasks as required to sustain predictable operation.

This level of support is made possible by Applied’s extensive global parts infrastructure and efficiencies, and by the high level of training provided to field service technicians, most of whom are local to customers’ fabs. For example, Applied’s Tech Guides training team uses virtual reality simulations and other advanced teaching methods to bring our trainees “inside the chamber” and optimize their understanding of Applied Materials hardware and proprietary technologies.

The combination of greater parts efficiencies and expert staff training helps customers reduce the costs and risks that stem from improperly performed PM tasks, which can arise from errors in workmanship or poor-quality parts that prevent chamber recovery to production status. It also frees up a fabs’ own service technicians for other tasks.

Applied Materials has demonstrated that it can deliver repeatable, predictable and fast results using a methodological approach to PM execution based on industrywide best practices, intimate tool and process knowledge, and high-quality parts and parts-cleaning practices.

Thus, customers who contract for the new Applied PM Services option can expect to achieve greater tool stability and availability, and to benefit from more predictable operating costs.

For additional information, contact