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Values First Scores with Semicon Apps

Growing demand for miniaturized components from semiconductor factories meant getting the recipes right at the production line had become a necessity. As factories battled with manual or semi-automatic processes, Values First Consulting Sdn Bhd developed RecipePLANT 2001 to speed up integration of semiconductor equipment, thus saving companies millions of dollars in material, rework and on-time delivery to customers.

RecipePLANT provides centralized recipe management services for different equipment types and reduces yield loss and scrap while improving process monitoring and control.

According to company president and chief technical officer Dr Tan Seow Hwee the enterprise wide system allows users to have total control over recipes used for each product. The system can also interface with existing station controllers to communicate with the equipment.

Values First recently secured a multi-million ringgit project for RecipePLANT at a wafer fab facility in Asia with several other test and assembly plants in Malaysia and Taiwan indicating "strong" interest in the product. Tan declined to name the parties involved.

He pointed out that manufacturers are becoming increasingly aware that communication speed, effective modes of data collection and automated production control are critical to info-based manufacturing activity.

"We might live in the age of distributed technologies and Internet connectivity but the industry -- which is responsible for creating leading edge products -- still clings to conventional mode of automation as it is proven and reliable," he said, adding that newer applications available today are capable of predicting equipment failure.

Steady Growth

Two years ago, the Penang-based company received a RM686,000 (US$181,000) award from the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) Research and Grant Scheme to speed up the development of ObjectTool, a pack of four modules for recipe management, event reporting, equipment performance checking and equipment modeling.

"We have not actively marketed the other three modules as we feel they are ahead of their time. We also noticed that some US companies do offer similar products but the pick up rate is slow. And we realize that in Asia, [companies] tend to stick to the traditional approach to equipment integration. It might take another year or two before there is real change."

Other products available from Values First are ObjectSECS, a SECS development package based on the well established SEMI equipment communications protocol, and CellMap2001, an intuitive cell controller software for inkless wafer mapping capable of managing the supply chain. Both products are widely used at semicon factories here. CellMap has been expanded to include several other products for a complete inkless manufacturing solution known as the Inkless Suite.

Values First, set up 1997, has been profitable in the last three years and more recently recorded a 100% year-on-year increase in revenues. As it gains regional recognition coupled with growing demand, sales from abroad are expected to grow by 40%. Presently, 90% of its earnings are secured locally.

by Anita Matthews

Values First:

(October 2002 Issue, Nikkei Electronics Asia)

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