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Intelligent Manufacturing Solutions

Welcome to the paper archives. To download papers, click on the title from the list below. We encourage sharing so be sure to tell a friend or colleague.

Profitless Prosperity | 2008
What's a semiconductor equipment company to do?
Dan O'Connor

Lack of profits in the semiconductor industry puts downward pressure on capital expenditures by the chip companies. This results in a decrease in market size for equipment and, of course, increased competition among equipment suppliers. Equipment suppliers will need to cut costs because of the shrinking market while still continuing to get new, differentiated products to market in order to compete. Essentially they will need to do more with fewer R&D dollars. This paper explores four areas of untapped potential R&D efficiencies for semiconductor equipment companies to explore.

Guidelines for Effective Software Test Automation in the Industrial Equipment Industry | 2008
Amit Shah, Tim Bosch

In highly competitive markets, under tight schedule and budget constraints, industrial equipment companies must maintain a high level of quality and meet performance and reliability demands. Manual based software testing approaches are inherently time consuming and tend to expend a significant portion of a product's development schedule and budget. Luckily, automated software testing can optimize the overall testing process, reduce time to market and improve quality. This white paper discusses the key steps for implementing an effective automated software testing program for industrial equipment software that will minimize risk, significantly increase the likelihood of success, and demonstrate a return on investment.

Product Strategy for Semiconductor Equipment | 2007
Making it Easier to Build the Right Product the Right Way
Charlie Alfred, Tim Bowe, Dan O'Connor

The keys to successful product development are the ability to build the right product, at the right time, for the right cost, using the right resources. This paper talks about identifying the keys to defining a product strategy destined to succeed. It outlines some tough questions that your organization must grapple with prior to establishing an effective product strategy. It also proposes actions that you must take if your organization is unable to answer any of these questions.

Drive Top-Line Growth in the Consolidating Semiconductor Market | 2006
Ron Rubbico, Tim Bowe, Norm Delisle, Hoyt Lougee

The massive semiconductor industry consolidation that occurred during the last decade, coupled with the successful introduction of 300mm wafer production equipment, has left the semi equipment producers chasing an increasingly smaller number of tool sales. As a result, the equipment industry has turned to mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations to realign product strategies and provide the cost-efficient product offerings demanded by the rapidly consolidating supply chain. This paper examines the factors that are critical in aligning business and technology strategies to extract the most market leverage and top-line growth from combined or restructured product lines. The paper draws from approaches achieving success in other heavily consolidating industries and applies them to the unique challenges facing semi equipment manufacturers.

Real-time Software Development Principles for Embedded Devices | 2006
Karl Aeder

Many of today's embedded device control systems require some amount of deterministic software device control. By employing proven software architectural approaches, organizations can realize significant reductions in time to market and engineering costs across the initial development, enhancement, and maintenance of the software over its lifetime. This paper discusses the challenges associated with developing real-time control software, and makes both architecture and development process recommendations that can limit the risks associated with these challenges. A short case study is also included to show how these approaches were applied to a real world situation that resulted in commercial success.

Formulating Effective Strategies for Capital Equipment Product Software | 2005
Norm Delisle, David Jacques, Tim Bowe

One of the biggest challenges faced by manufacturers of capital equipment is ensuring alignment between their business, product and technology strategies. Misalignment often occurs during the earliest stages of product planning and development, and can manifest itself in the form of missed market windows and opportunities, lower revenues and profits, higher development and support costs, and lower overall customer satisfaction. This paper presents proven approaches for improving product strategy definition and technical strategy alignment for capital equipment product software. We describe tools and techniques that we use to help our customers develop software and products that are the best in their marketplace.

Are You Sitting on a Software Time Bomb? | 2005
Norm Delisle

The control software for capital equipment is large, complex and expensive to develop. Most equipment suppliers cannot afford to create entirely new software for each new product. Instead, an evolving and growing body of equipment control software is typically used across several product generations over a span of up to ten years or more. Ideally, you would like to be able to detect that your software is becoming fragile before any of these symptoms start to appear. This paper explores ways to recognize and recover from fragile legacy equipment software systems.

Software Reliability Engineering for Equipment Control Software | 2004
Norm Delisle

Production equipment is not keeping up with availability targets and there have been significant quality problems with the embedded controllers of production equipment. Compounding the situation is the fact that single points of failure now have increased impact in the highly integrated factory. This paper describes proven approaches for cost-effective achievement of much higher levels of software reliability. The techniques described here were developed over the past couple of decades to support the development of ultra-reliable software systems used in the telecommunications, aerospace and computer industries.

Moving Legacy C/C++ Semiconductor Control Systems to C# and .NET | 2004
Kevin Weber, Alan Blannin, Wayne Lobb

A familiar problem for many semiconductor tool manufacturers is an ongoing struggle with a large legacy C/C++ software system that was designed 10 to 15 years or more ago. Given the size of the legacy software system, a "big bang" redesign and rewrite from scratch could be highly risky, time consuming and expensive. A proven cost-effective approach to the problem is incremental migration, a stepwise process that delivers the new software in multiple releases, each of which comprises a fully working and shippable product. This paper discusses key technical challenges for incremental migration in .NET, including selecting the right component technology and enabling reliable interoperation of legacy C/C++ code with new C# code.

Management Techniques for Developing Highly Reliable Software | 2004
Wayne Lobb

It is well known that a software vendor's cost of fixing a failure in released software can be 100+ times as much as fixing the failure before shipment. In semiconductor fabs, downtime or offline time for a single piece of equipment can cost tens of thousands of dollars per hour. From a management point of view, preventing defects starts with establishing certain values and attitudes, and then following through consistently with techniques and actions that foster and reward success. This white paper discusses a number of hands-on management techniques that have been used successfully, over the span of ten to twenty-plus years, when developing low-defect software systems in the semiconductor industry.

How to Get Off the Software Resourcing Roller Coaster | 2004
Norm Delisle, Wayne Lobb, Tim Bowe

The Semiconductor Equipment Industry is off and running again and the increased demand for products are already starting to strain engineering resources. If you are considering software outsourcing – and you should be – then you should be thinking strategically and globally. The best outsourcing firms can outperform your internal software departments due to more experience in advanced software technologies, more skill at software architecture design and migration, much better testing and quality processes, and better overall track records at meeting budget and schedule. This executive brief looks at the pros and cons of three software resourcing options: hiring permanent staff, using temporary contractors, and strategic outsourcing.

The Fifth Risk | 2003
Software Development Strategies That Maximize ROI
Rob Firmin, Tim Bowe, Norm Delisle

This article is for those managers in the semi industry whose products depend upon software, whether for control systems, analytics or fab integration. Software development represents an ever-growing portion of R&D costs and an increasing source of problems. The dependence on software by semiconductor tool manufacturers and their customers represents a fundamental business risk. To maximize the ROI of software-dependent products, semi managers must understand basic principles of why software development succeeds or fails. In this article, we explain the characteristics and dynamics that distinguish best-practices teams from typical ones in terms of time, money, quality, and most of all, risk.

Preparing for the Upturn: A Guide for Semi Equipment Software Development | 2003
Norm Delisle, Bill Balicki

With the long-awaited upturn finally in sight, engineering groups are gearing up to deliver a new generation of products to the marketplace. Because of the severity of this downturn, however, it is more critical than ever that they execute with precision, developing the right product in the right timeframe. In order to be successful in this environment, a different approach will be needed; better analysis, planning and execution are an absolute requirement.This paper identifies methods for determining a software strategy that minimizes risk while, most importantly, maximizes return on investment.

Designing Product Line Architectures for Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment | 2003
Norm Delisle, Charlie Alfred

Semiconductor equipment manufacturers have been utilizing product line concepts informally for well over a decade. The typical semiconductor software control system is used in dozens of equipment product models – sometimes across multiple product lines. Of course, this software reuse strategy is not always entirely successful. This paper lays the groundwork for more effective reusable software strategies. We describe approaches for designing software frameworks that provide support for the required levels of variability and commonality for all of the products across a product line.

Accelerating Semi Equipment Development Using Emulators | 2003
Norm Delisle, Dan O'Connor

The use of emulators for hardware devices has quietly emerged as a standard strategy for equipment control software testing in the semi industry. However, there is very little information available on how to create effective emulators – especially for semi equipment. This paper describes an approach for designing effective emulators and illustrates key proven design principles.

Quantitative Metrics for the Development of Semiconductor System Software | 2002
How to Get Your Money's Worth
Norm Delisle, Wayne Lobb, Jay McGaffigan, Tim Bowe

Development of a new software platform for a semiconductor system is a major investment, easily exceeding $5M for many types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment or fab-level control systems. This white paper looks at quantitative industry benchmark metrics for software development and translates them into practical guidelines to help you structure your software development projects for minimum cost – and minimum risk. The metrics discussed in this paper can help lead to success in effective project planning for shortened development cycles, selecting the best software development team – exploring both internal and outsourcing options, and managing bottlenecks in the development effort in critical areas such as system integration and test.

Incrementally Migrating Semiconductor Equipment to a New Software Architecture | 2002
Norm Delisle, Dan O'Connor, Rick Flanders, Tim Bowe

Semiconductor equipment suppliers face a difficult decision when they decide to develop a new product: should they enhance existing equipment software or should they create a brand new software platform. The first step is to determine whether your software can and should be migrated. This paper describes an approach for incrementally migrating existing legacy equipment software to new software architecture. This approach reduces overall risk, reduces initial investment, and provides an extremely attractive return on investment.