Field Solutions Business
As demand for semiconductors increases in various fields, such as medicine, finance, transportation and manufacturing, the miniaturization and integration of CPUs and memory devices to achieve higher performance is further advancing. To meet this demand, it is becoming an extremely important issue for our
customers to improve the utilization rate of their equipment.
At Tokyo Electron, we are striving to further enhance our field solutions business by promoting knowledge management in field service, continuously improving the skills of field engineers and strengthening our global support system through the Total Support Centers (TSCs)* to ensure that the equipment we ship will operate stably in the market for a long period of time.
Furthermore, in order to comply with various regulations, such as overseas travel restrictions due to COVID-19, we are developing remote maintenance support and educational tools, and are striving to develop a high-value-added field solutions business that contributes to our customers' business operations.
TSC: Total Support Center. Refer
Initiatives to Reduce Environmental Impact
In order to meet the needs of customers producing IoT-related products, etc., we are developing and producing a new reengineered equipment based on the previous generation of 200 mm wafer-compatible equipment. The reengineered equipment replaces old units and components with new ones while maintaining compatibility with existing processes, and achieves the same level of performance as the latest equipment in terms of transfer and other aspects, thereby helping customers improve productivity and reduce their environmental impact.
As part of our efforts to reduce environmental impact, we are also deploying LEAP*, a support service that extends the life cycle of our equipment.
Support for semiconductor production equipment, which consists of tens of thousands of parts, typically ends seven to eight years after discontinuation. The main reason for this is due to the discontinuation of parts or the difficulty in maintaining safety and quality. This has led to the promotion of replacement with newer equipment and the discarding of older equipment. In response to customer needs and in consideration of the SDGs, we began redesigning discontinued parts, and by strengthening and restructuring our support system, including repairs, we are now able to provide extended life cycle support for equipment to more than 15 years after discontinuation. Through these new support services, we are working to reduce equipment disposal and contribute to the continuous use of equipment over a long period of time.
LEAP: Lifecycle Extension and Availability Program
Total Support Center
We established Total Support Centers (TSCs) in Japan, the United States, China and Europe to support overseas companies through our global network centered around Japan.
At each TSC, dedicated representatives maintain and utilize a database of information about customers’ equipment and examples of similar incidents to strive for better support, and at the same time, conduct remote support service by operating TELeMetrics™ and other systems. In fiscal year 2022, we continued to establish a system where TSCs around the world support each other, taking advantage of time differences in each region, and strove to
strengthen our global network. Through these initiatives, we respond to inquiries and problems from customers around the world with even greater speed and precision.
We promote knowledge management*1 throughout the entire Group so that it can deliver high-quality technical service swiftly. In the area of field service, we have built Service CRM*2 so that we can create a database and centrally manage customer equipment support and trouble histories. Operation of Service CRM has begun in Japan and is currently being rolled out globally.
Our knowledge management tools allow comprehensive searches of equipment history of multiple systems to be performed, thereby contributing toward shortening response time when there are problems. Equipment Records is a tool that allows batch searches of information such as equipment work histories and parts replacement histories based on equipment serial numbers, while Knowledge Search enables users to enter keywords of equipment-related problems to carry out batch searches of files and documents saved in the database based on past trouble information.
In fiscal year 2022, we worked on making the equipment database multilingual to support Korean and Chinese in addition to Japanese and English. This enables our global active field engineers to utilize the knowledge management tools with greater effectiveness. We will continue to promote efforts to manage the various systems throughout the entire Group using One Platform*3 to increase work efficiency and strive to further improve our customer responsiveness.
Knowledge management: Management approach to promote internal company sharing of tacit knowledge held by individuals, in order to encourage innovation and to improve overall productivity
Service CRM: Service Customer Relationship Management
One Platform: An initiative to manage information using a standardized database and system. Refer to Continuous Improvement of Business Operations
Remote Support System
We promote remote support service using TELeMetrics™ to minimize any downtime of production equipment, to detect abnormal operation before any major defect occurs and to support the stable operation of equipment.
In addition, with the growing need to support on-site field engineers remotely due to travel restrictions and various regulations around the world
arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are developing an advanced remote support system. This system not only allows audio and video from a customer’s manufacturing site to be shared in real time but also enhances the confidentiality of information.
Using smart glasses (image)
In fiscal year 2022, we added unique functions such as information protection, restricted image transmission and phone translation to our existing smart glasses* system to make remote support more convenient. At the same time, we are striving to further improve support quality, such as adding the option of tablet devices according to the environment of our customers.
Smart glasses: Worn like an ordinary pair of glasses, smart glasses can display images and digital information through the glasses
Engineer’s Skill Up
In fiscal year 2019, we established our training operations center to enhance the training structure and promote globalization of field engineers. The center establishes a company-wide common skills management system that meets the standards of SEMATECH (a U.S. consortium for the joint development of semiconductors). The system helps us to deploy the most suitable human resources to provide customers with service based on an objective measurement of the skills of our engineers.
In fiscal year 2021, we began providing education for expert engineers to improve the skills of engineers at our overseas subsidiaries. The education includes training programs that enable technical support engineers from overseas to learn not only technical support but also acquire advanced skills related to development in a practical manner at our manufacturing sites in Japan. Furthermore, we also conduct training for field engineers of our Global Data Engineering Team, established in fiscal year 2021, to develop data analysts specializing in digital transformation (DX)*.
In fiscal year 2022, field engineers who have acquired DX skills developed a program for the continuous improvement of business operations and are rolling it out globally. By linking this program to the field information database, it became possible to automatically update, analyze and visualize field information.