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A Letter from Charlie Pappis—Finding What Matters

Charlie Pappis

Group Vice President and General Manager, Applied Global Services

Charlie Pappis

The cover of this issue of Nanochip Fab Solutions says it all: trying to find ways to optimize fab resources and grind out more productivity can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Today’s fabs are increasingly connected and generating huge amounts of data—from automated tools, embedded sensors, advanced controls, robots and more. The power of analytics is in finding what matters: sifting through that data to pinpoint opportunities that enable value outcomes—greater reliability, effi‘ciency, lower cost, higher yields. So running a fab is not so much about "big data." It’s about "big analytics!"

Device performance, yield, and factory productivity are critical areas that fabs must continuously address and improve. Often, even small changes in process control can lead to undetected differences in wafer uniformity, particle contamination levels and other issues impacting output and quality. Equipment PM intervals, undetected variations in spare parts, and differing troubleshooting skill sets of equipment technicians can also degrade output and quality—and your bottom line.

That’s why this issue of Nanochip Fab Solutions showcases the power of data analytics in helping fabs find hidden opportunities for improvement that can lead to significant gains. But we’ve been telling you these stories for a while now. For example, in July 2012, we describedhow a logic customer achieved a 23% throughput improvement and 33% defect reduction by following best known methods recommended by Applied’s FabVantage team.[1] Similarly, an article in the July 2014 issue detailed how a customer increased profits by more than $100,000 per chamber, per year after Applied Advanced Services specialists used multivariate analysis and predictive maintenance modeling to help them better predict epi lamp failure and increase tool uptime.[2]

More recently, the September 2014 issue of Nanochip Express featured an article on FabVantage consultants who helped a customer increase polysilicon deposition throughput by 18% and reduce particle-related wafer scrap by 80% by optimizing their recipe and schedule for chamber cleans.[3] The same article noted that consultants from the FabVantage Yield and Predictability Practice helped a customer reduce thickness nonuniformity by more than 50% and process qualification downtime by more than 60% through improvements in process control.[4]

Applied has the ability to partner with customers to help discover opportunities and drive gains like these because we are heavily invested in our experts and our expertise—and in our customers' success. We recruit top engineering and scientific talent around the world to develop and deploy predictive methodologies. Our team of 3,000+ customer engineers is increasingly engaging in advanced training to apply analytics to identify, predict and solve our customers’ highest-value problems. Our installed base of 30,000+ tools is one of the largest in the industry. Applied is also stepping up to deliver innovative outcome-based service offerings designed to achieve specific, customer-defined results, another shift enabled by data analytics. This is not a future offering; this is what we’re doing today.

Big data, and more importantly "big analytics," are helping us find what matters to you, creating a tremendous opportunity to improve the output and quality of your wafer fab. We have fully embraced them as part of our sustained commitment to serve as your strategic—and trusted— partner.

[4] Ibid.