This is our third and final post based on the recent webinar by Julie Fraser of Iyno Advisors that examines the need for new MES in semiconductor manufacturing. In the first post, we looked at how the rise of smart products is affecting the semiconductor industry, particularly the pressure on those companies saddled with old MES systems. In the second post, we drilled down into why legacy MES have troubling shortcomings for those in innovative markets, as well as the dangers of self-deception in overvaluing assets simply because they’re in place. In this post, we will focus on the nature of new MES systems, the ease or difficulty of their implementation, and the benefits they provide those with the courage (and logic) to change.
Fraser lists these general characteristics of modern MES:
- Configurability and adaptability
- Design for data access and use
- Provision of quick process and flow modeling with no need for new code
- Consistent integration to other applications
- Process enforcement
- For error-proofing, not just tracking
- For escape prevention
- Multi-site management
“Consider what these new systems provide for the semiconductor manufacturer,” says Fraser. “In terms of quality, they have in-process SPC, root cause analysis, and audit trail. In terms of control, they have unit specific steps, equipment specific parameters, and lot selection and batch control. In terms of equipment, they have reticule management, mask and tooling maintenance, SEMI 10 tracking, and OEE. Finally, in terms of intelligence, they have dashboards, real-time notifications, ad hoc queries, and predictive analytics.” She’s quick to point out that her list is not exhaustive, but asks if legacy MES are delivering these things now. “There is a level of embedded intelligence and granularity in modern MES that provides its users competitive advantage,” she notes. The benefits appear in production, engineering, IT, business management—and for the customer.
“You can’t underestimate the importance of fully automated data collection, because it is a foundation that allows applications to do their work,” says Fraser. Yet semiconductor companies continue to use partially manual methods to collect data.
In addition to supporting fully automated data collection, modern MES provide manufacturing intelligence as an analog to business intelligence. “Increasingly, MI is an integrated part of MES, and this leads to better decision making,” says Fraser. This results from bringing real-time, actionable information to plant personnel. “The speed to benefit of modern MES is immediate visibility,” continues Fraser. MI incorporation provides speed and consistency of analysis across sites, facilitating change and improvement throughout the enterprise.
There are two kinds of reasons for change now: one, the ability of modern MES to support priority initiatives, and two, the elevated risk inherent in ongoing legacy system shortcomings:
Priority initiatives supported by modern MES
- Customer-centric innovation
- Emerging market penetration
- Globalization of the value chain
Symptoms of legacy MES that elevate risk
- Inflexibility; difficulty of change
- Limited functionality
- No multi-language capability
- Software end-of-life priorto facility end-of-life
- Audit and compliance activity drawing excessive resources
“If this list isn’t enough, the fact that companies have changed to new MES efficiently—often with little or no downtime—should be the final piece,” concludes Fraser. “Companies have done this successfully and reaped the benefits almost immediately. I’ve seen it.”
The business case for change can be seen in the impact of change on IT and business parameters:
- Supported clean software
- Modern, easily accessible hardware
- Easier recruitment
- Better satisfied internal customers
- Higher IT efficiency
- Lower IT costs
- Faster analysis, smoother change
- Optimization of operations
- Reduction of WIP
- Higher yields
- Better quality
- Lower costs
- More satisfied—and more easily satisfied—customers
“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact,” said Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. While some semiconductor manufacturers have been slow to change their legacy MES systems, we don’t think they’ll need to retain Holmes to figure out why they should consider changing—now.