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In a keynote speech at the Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference, Doug Grose, AMD’s senior vice president for manufacturing, technology development and supply chain management, outlined a number of steps the company has taken to improve its manufacturing efficiency and customer-responsiveness.

“Our industry is simultaneously facing new demands and constraints. Consumers want new products faster with a greater variety of functions, while chip manufacturers bear the cost to develop and produce the underlying technology. Efficiency has become more important than ever in meeting customer demands and staying competitive,” Mr. Grose explained.

As part of a company-wide initiative, AMD has applied so-called Lean manufacturing techniques, which are used by Toyota, Porsche and other large manufacturers, to reduce waste and drive efficiencies across its operations. Combining these practices with proprietary tools like its Automated Precision Manufacturing (APM) factory floor control system, AMD has significantly increased the speed, accuracy and agility of its chip fabrication, assembly and test.

The traditional industry approach to improve manufacturing efficiency has been to introduce new technologies, such as smaller circuit sizes or larger wafers, to increase throughput. In addition to pursuing these improvements, AMD has increased its focus on improving the process of manufacturing itself. For example, preliminary studies at the company’s Dresden facility show that significant reductions in manufacturing cycle time can be realized by reducing the size of the wafer lots that move through the line.

Lower cycle time means that ideas move from design to product to market faster, allowing companies to realize revenue more quickly and react to market demand more effectively. It also allows chip producers to be more flexible between high and low volume orders, which has become critical as different chip products have proliferated.

The application of Lean principles has improved AMD manufacturing operations across the board. In its Singapore assembly & test operations, this has resulted in chip output increasing by 75 000 units per line annually, lowering cycle time by 25% and cutting production time nearly in half across all product segments. Further, reductions of 94% material transport and 95% in lead time have also been realized by linking together previously unassociated processes. Similarly, a 20% increase in productivity was obtained in AMD's Penang plant, along with a 60% reduction in lead time with a 17% increase in productivity at the company’s Suzhou plant.

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