By Tom Salmon, VP, Collaborative Technology Platforms, SEMI
The FOA is an international, non-profit trade association of semiconductor and MEMS fab owners and industry suppliers who meet regularly to discuss and act on common manufacturing issues, combining strengths and resources to become more globally competitive
Fab Owners Association (FOA) enters a new era on January 1, 2018, as it becomes part of SEMI. Dialoging about manufacturing issues remains the primary purpose of the FOA – where the “A” will now stand for “Alliance.”
In 2004, a handful of semiconductor device manufacturers (DMs) united to form the Fab Owners Association (FOA) in an effort to explore ways to succeed without the huge capital equipment expenditures needed to join the race to smaller geometries and high-volume production runs on 300mm and 450mm wafers.
At the outset, FOA chose L.T. Guttadauro, an industry veteran, to lead the association. FOA’s membership increased to 23 device manufacturers by 2017. The advantages of having suppliers collaborate to find solutions within the association framework led to the addition of a new membership category for equipment, material and services suppliers, a move that increased the membership by 60 to about 83 companies by 2017. FOA leverages the collective knowledge of the membership through study teams focused on various topics including industrial engineering, facilities, equipment engineering and maintenance management, environment health and safety (EHS), and human resources (HR). The members report out at quarterly meetings, and the group has enabled growth and profitability without compromising the competitive advantages of member companies.
Collaboration is Key
Collaboration greatly improves the ability of FOA members to focus their limited resources on areas of true differentiation. Notable areas of collaboration include:
- Best practices in process flow – manufacturers get the most out of tools by sharing techniques for increasing throughput out of bottleneck tools
- Legacy tool maintenance and spare parts management – maximizing uptime by sharing optimal maintenance schedules and access to spare parts
- Personnel and staffing issues – optimum shift lengths, work rules for specific equipment, knowledge transfer and the permanent vs. temporary worker debate
- Sharing of supplier experiences – harness the experience of others when they need a legacy tool repair and service becomes necessary
- Access to a large number of suppliers – useful when looking for a specific capability or wanting to educate a number of customers and partners in one convenient setting
Four Meetings Annually
- Q1 – Collaborative Forum: Two days – Focus on Joint Supply-Chain Solutions
- Device makers and supply chain members present real-world challenges and the solutions they developed together
- Industry updates
- Market and manufacturing trends, regulatory and policy developments, etc.
- Team updates
- Topical focus team deep-dives in priority areas
- Maintenance management, power quality, HR, EHS, parts and sub-systems lifecycle, APC-FDC, etc. (illustrative)
- Q2 – Meeting at a Member Fab
- Q3 – Speed Networking at SEMICON West
- Q4 – Meeting at Member Fab
FOA’s membership and operations will be integrated into SEMI as a special interest group, and the benefits of membership will be further enhanced with SEMI’s global footprint, broader advocacy, workforce development efforts, and closer ties with the supplier community. SEMI staff will carry the torch forward and provide stewardship of events and insights for continued successful operation of these fabs.
December 12, 2017