Global Account Management (The Integrator)

The Manufacturer/Supplier Relationship for the Next Decade

by Guest Author: Bob Hills
Long time member of the sales and marketing community in the semiconductor industry

As the transistor developed from its simple beginnings to the complex logic and memory devices of today, the entity known as the IC Industry has gone through numerous phases. *These phases are shown in the following table.


Integrated circuits and MOS technology were invented during the decade of the '60's. The '70's introduced advanced processes of ion implantation and projection mask alignment in to production applications. During the '80's, the focus was on particles reduction to minimize killer defects which impacted yield. The current decade of the '90's has had focus on Cost of Ownership, Cost of Consumables and throughput to optimize productivity in IC manufacturing.

Relationships between semiconductor manufacturers and equipment and material suppliers have also gone through different phases during the past decades. These relationships generally followed the following pattern:

1960's Invention Scientist to Scientist
1970's Process Manufacturer to Sales to Supplier
1980's Yield Manufacturer to Sales/Engineering to Supplier
1990's Productivity Manufacturer to Sales/Engineering/Support to Supplier
2000's Convergence Manufacturer to Integrator to Supplier
2010's Invention Scientist to Scientist

Focusing on the first decade in the new millenium, the Convergence Era, a further change in the relationship between the manufacturer (tool user) and the vendor (tool or material supplier) becomes evident. Prior to the concept of Global Account Management, the Traditional Model could be represented as follows:

Today, many large semiconductor manufacturers insist on having a dedicated support group provided by suppliers. The concept of Global Account Management (Integrators) has evolved from this need. With the increasing complexity of Factory Integration (FI)** and Factory Automation(FA)** requirements, a team approach with a vendor-supplied integrator will be the model for the next decade.

These Integrators will have to be sensitive to third parties which provide software to accommodate FI and third parties which provide robots, etc. for FA. These third parties will have an impact on the sale, installation, start up and eventual management of manufacturing tools. Additionally these third parties will be beholding to the tool user or the tool supplier but not both. A clear definition will have to be made as to which of the three or more parties involved will have responsibility for each part of the overall program. Communication between all the parties involved is the key to success. This communication will be the role of the Integrator. To quote Ken Levy, CEO of KLA, ". . . look for the integrators. They are the companies that semiconductor manufacturers will turn to and say 'Help me build these fabrication plants of the future. I want you to be my partner in this project.' Those kinds of companies will be winners…"

Global Account Management may change again towards the end of the next decade. Potentially semiconductor manufacturers could ask suppliers to provide the tools, processes, and personnel to run and maintain the plants and the materials to be processed. Initially this could be on a fixed fee basis but could evolve in a price per wafer processed. The groundwork for this can be found in the Cost of Ownership and Cost of Consumables models now in use. At that juncture, the role of the Integrator and its team will be even more critical to providing finished product in the form of processed wafers, in-spec and on-time.

The second decade of the new millenium will see the see the industry reinvent itself with such technologies such as organosilicides which will emulate how the brain works. The relationship between the parties will return to one of Scientist to Scientist. And so the process begins again.

  *Special thanks to Dr. Robert Bratter for his input into this concept.
**Factory Integration (FI) is defined as control of the production process and tools by a host computer including interfab and intrafab communications. Factory Automation (FA) is defined as control of wafers and materials both interfab and intrafab. The complexity of these issues are extended by the fact that most of the fabs are custom in their design requirements and the suppliers have yet a different set of ideas.  

About the author

Bob Hills’ background includes sales, marketing and product management in the disciplines of etch, ion implantation, photolithography, spin-bake, PVD, CVD and semiconductor materials. He has held positions at Lam Research, Drytek/General Signal, Kasper Instruments/Eaton and Materials Research Corporation. He has a BSME and an MS in Metallurgy from Stevens Institute of Technology.

 He can be reached at:
 523 Sunset Way, Redwood City, CA 94062