Design with Asia suppliers in mind

Semiconductor is a very competitive industry. Just take a look at electronic devices out there, prices drop every year by like 20-30% and sometimes even more. From manufacturers (e.g. Intel, Samsung, Toshiba…) stand point, they gotta cut cost by at least 40% to make profit. Then it comes down to the capital equipment suppliers like my company (Asyst, Brooks, Lam Research, Novellus, AMAT…) we are under a lot of pressure to produce new products with more features, robust and cost 65% less. There, you got the picture of wher I am trying to go next. Obviously we have to go to Asia to find cheap suppliers. Most components are 3x cheaper, and their quality are comparable. But when it comes to custom machining parts, our Asia suppliers are always having problems. It is either capability is not there to meet the spec or they do not have proper tools to finish the job. Every time after we released a design, we always have to go back and modify to meet their capabilities. If the change is easy we can finish it in a day or two, if not we’re talking in weeks. The bottom line is that we can not afford to manufacture anything in the U.S. anymore and Asia is the only way to go even though their capabilities are still immature. Either that or we have to starve to death. So here is crash course for you ‘project/program manager’, make sure you size your start-to-finish duration for the design phase in your MS Project accordingly in this type of manufacturing environment.

-D-

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