Is your product engineering mature?
Creaking with old age?
Young fresh and chaotic?
Or purring in prime performance?
The truth is that unless there is continuous improvement and regular investment in systems and training then all product engineering & yield management systems will start young, and end up old. The golden age is the time in between. But how to get into this performing time quickly and stay there? In my view a good assessment is needed of the current status and then a step by step approach to improvement.
I am in the fortunate position to see companies with product engineering teams in each of these phases and even more fortunate to engage with companies to help them move from one phase to the next.
Product engineering is a vital function in semiconductor companies. From fabless companies who need to ensure that the subcontractors are manufacturing according to specification, to IDMs who must use their joined approach to gain as much efficiency as possible. And in all cases yield is directly valuable, throwing product in the bin is directly throwing money way.
1. Understand your current system status
What is your present system like? What are the drawbacks? I saw an example recently where engineers in one country spend hours downloading data to their desktop in order to do analysis. They are feeling the pain of a system creaking with old age.
2. Compare solutions
No solution is perfect for everybody. Take a good look at what is new in the industry. There are some innovative ideas around. How about adding a collaboration engine to your analysis tool?
3. Bring in the right systems and experts to agree the next steps
Understand not only if the system you are looking at has the right functionality, but more importantly you need to know that you will receive the right support to achieve the return on your investment. This can all come from working with the right people.
4. Get visibility, give visibility
It’s amazing how many people cannot see their data. Even if they can they have to wait hours to get it, are restricted how much data can be viewed at one time, are restricted to only a certain desktop to access the data. I believe a key step is to get data anywhere, anytime. Give this visibility to your engineers. Both through access to the system and training.
5. Add functionality
Now that you can see your data and your team are trained on the basics it is time to start to implement those functions that you dreamed of but had no time to work on. Maybe gage R&R analysis, Lots on Hold control etc.
By this time there will be significant improvements in place (if you made the right choices in steps 1-3). It should already be clear that there is good return on investment and further enhancements to the system can be discussed.