At yieldHUB, we often speak to companies who don’t know if they need yield management software yet, or not. While most semiconductor companies need to invest in yield management, there could be instances where you’ll get by without one for a while. This article is for companies that use an internal option (such as Excel or JMP) and those who don’t have yield management at all. We will share the six most obvious signs that you need a yield management system. This will help you decide whether you need a YMS now, or not.
Here are the six signs you need a yield management system.
Your team spends more time gathering and converting data than analyzing and solving problems.
This is something we see time and time again. When companies believe that they don’t need a YMS, they assign people to gather the data, convert it into a usable format then analyze it. The Product Engineers are dealing with file and data dumps which they have to organize. This takes a long time if no bespoke system exists.
If you find this is happening with your team, you could be spending too much money. First, you need to pay someone to gather the data, then pay someone to analyze the data and solve problems. A good YMS will gather the data and generate reports for you at the touch of a button. Meaning you only have to pay someone to solve problems and maximize revenue.
Sign: The best way to find if your team spends too much time gathering data is to measure it. Ask your team to track how much time they spend on each task for a week or so. It’s often cheaper to use a yield management system, as it reduces the amount of time needed to gather the data. Therefore you won’t have to hire or manage as many Product Engineers.
2. Your teams work in different locations
The second sign that you need a yield management system is when your teams work in different locations. This is even more important when they are in different time zones, countries and speak different languages. The reason for this is that yield management systems help people communicate across barriers.
When a company uses Excel or similar tools, it means that different people are looking at different data. For example, if you send a graph in Outlook and the recipient opens it in Gmail, it could distort the image. You and your team are looking at different information. This slows things down and can lead to inaccuracies. Equally, if you’re using different communication channels, it’s easy to miss something important. Suppose you send a file by FTP, then send an email about the file. When you click send, you realize you forgot something in the email, so you send a text. How will the recipient keep track of everything?
With yieldHUB, you can communicate within the platform. Send graphs to your team and know that they are looking at the same images and data. This makes communication much easier and faster.
Equally, it’s easier to explain something using graphs and charts than words. In this way, yield management systems help overcome language barriers.
With cloud-based yield management systems, your teams are looking at the most recent data and comments, so there is no need to worry about them missing something because they have all the information at their fingertips.
Sign: When your teams work in different locations, you need to look at a yield management system
3. Storage issues
Large datalogs take a lot of bandwidth which slows your servers down. By outsourcing this, the data is hosted on the cloud, by someone else. This saves your company’s bandwidth. In some companies, the datalogs are small so uploading is not an issue. But in larger companies, or high-volume companies uploading files takes time, and slows everyone down. Many yield management systems are set-up to handle huge amounts of data. Take advantage of this service.
Sign: When uploading files takes too long, it’s time to look at yield management systems. You can ask your team how long it takes them to upload files, and if they notice they notice a slow down when files are uploading.
4. Data archiving
Many companies need to archive data for long periods of time. This is impossible with Excel. You may be able to store the data but it would be hard to retrieve it when needed.
Some companies (e.g. those who produce consumer goods) produce new models every year. Their products have shorter life-cycles, so they could get by archiving recent data only (six months to a year).
We find that many companies need to archive the data indefinitely. For example, some of our customers work in the automotive and aviation sectors. As their customers’ products are expected to last a long time (e.g cars last 10-20 years) they need to archive the data for a very long time. The reason for this is: if a product fails or stops working they need to investigate various parts. Their data is easily retrieved with archiving. All they need is a lot id and they can find the data within minutes!
Some companies archive the data as insurance or to win new business. Imagine you’re dealing with a prospective customer. If you offer long-term archiving and your competitors can’t, you’re more likely to win the business. Equally, if you provide the service to long term customers, it’s invaluable.
Sign: If your customers make goods with a longer life cycle, you may need to archive and should look at yield management software to make it easy for you. This is even more important if you supply the automotive, aviation or military sectors.
5. You need to do characterization Gage R&R or if you need alerts
If your company does characterization or Gage R&R you need to invest in a yield management system. May companies (e.g yieldHUB) provide suitable stand-alone tools. So you get the advantages of these services on an ad-hoc basis, without having to change your system.
Performing these tasks manually takes far too long. If you’re creating very few new products you may be ok. Otherwise, take the easier and cheaper route: invest in YMS.
yieldHUB’s Yield Management Specialist, Carl Moore says: “I worked with a where it took them two weeks to complete Gage R&R analysis with PC tools. It takes a lot of time to organize and format the data, write the scripts, output results etc. When they implemented a yield management system, the Gage R&R analysis was reduced from weeks to a few hours!” When the manual data collection is gone, you can focus on analysis and solving problems rather than gathering and sorting data.
It is time-consuming to gather the data. Doing calculations manually has a high risk of human error. It’s far cheaper to buy a bespoke tool than to hire an engineer (or engineers) to do it manually).
Sign: If you need Characterization or Gage R&R, you need to research yield management system providers to see if they can automate the process. In many cases, they have a stand-alone tool for the service you need.
6. You should invest in YMS if your team need to receive alerts
If you need alerts for certain parametrics then you need a yield management system. It will measure values across different parametrics such as voltage and temperature etc, and let you know if anything is statistically different. You may decide to set it up so your team gets alerts while production continues. For some customers, we set up lots on hold. In this case, when there is an anomaly, production stops until the issue is resolved. This option isn’t available without a yield management systems. For those who use it, it’s invaluable.