Benchmarking is a vital activity for the UK and Ireland’s semiconductor manufacturers according to a recent survey by the National Microelectronics Institute (NMI), the trade association representing the semiconductor industry in the UK and Ireland. The survey entitled ‘How do you measure up?’ analysed data from the 15 wafer fabrication plants in the NMI's membership, representing the majority of the manufacturing capability in the UK and Ireland. It addressed topics including yield, cycle time, technical capability, productivity, operational efficiency, industry suppliers and human resources.
The results revealed that those wafer fabs employing benchmarking proactively challenged current thinking, more clearly identified performance gaps and used it as a catalyst for change and innovation.
David Law, Director of Manufacturing Services at the NMI commented, “We can see that productivity is significantly enhanced through benchmarking activities, where knowledge is continually shared and performances compared. However this approach is still being challenged by outdated attitudes that see comparing information with other sites or requesting help as a sign of failure. As such, it can sometimes still happen as a last resort and in the face of increased global competition this needs to change.”
He added, “For UK and Irish [semiconductor] manufacturers to remain competitive, a collaborative benchmarking culture needs to be further developed and extended to embrace all aspects of manufacturing. The current economic climate makes this more important than ever and the NMI is committed to driving this cultural transformation on behalf of its members.”
The 2008 survey is the second to be organised by the NMI specifically on fab performance and compares results with those gathered in 2005. The survey has highlighted many areas for action, with the NMI now organising knowledge-sharing events aimed at analysing and comparing methods for improving yield and techniques for reducing cost and cycle times.